When I was working in an office (cubical), I used to dream of being able to work anywhere I wanted (sidewalk cafe) when I wanted (no earlier than 10am). Especially on those beautiful fall days when the sun was bright, trees on fire with autumn colors, and the air was cool and refreshing. I would sit inside the stuffy office under florescent light and dream of enjoying the freedom to work when I was motivated and to nap when i was tired. So when I actually started working as an ‘anywhere worker’ I was excited to work anywhere, anytime and would take naps to get refreshed between bursts of productive work. I was in heaven. My favorite place to work was on the back deck of our home with a hot latte and the dog at my feet.
Then one day I just couldn’t get motivated. I slept in, ate breakfast (brunch), checked email, took a nap, had lunch…you get the idea. I would open files to start working but just couldn’t tap into my mojo. I figured it was just one of those days, and was grateful that I had the choice to work or not work. I knew that if today wasn’t productive, tomorrow would certainly make up for it. But tomorrow was just the same. This went on for several days. And though procrastination has it’s place (see ‘praise for procrastination‘) it is possible to do it to excess. Once in excess the benefits of procrastination become a hindrance. I knew I had to break this cycle before it became the norm instead of the exception. Here are a few of my tricks to…
inspire action with purpose
1. Listen to inspiring people. There is something powerful about hearing the passion in someone’s voice that gets me inspired. Of course you’ll need to find what works for you, but here are two recommendations of people I like to listen to. ‘The Go-Giver’ co-author Bob Burg is inspiring himself, but also interviews a variety of inspiring people. Barbara Sher is author of many books including ‘I Could Do Anything, If I Only Knew What It Was’ and has a refreshing approach to motivation (and a great sense of humor.)
2. Set the scene. In the movie business, establishing the context is critical. The lighting, the props, the location are often noted as a character in their own right beyond the actors. Think about it, if you are lying on your sofa trying to work, how do you think you are going to feel? Motivated? Probably not. To inspire myself, I make sure I have the right scene: bright light (preferrably sunlight), energizing music (I use Pandora since in has variety and community created channels); a dry erase white board or other drawing and brainstorming tool (paper and markers works well too); all my reference books on my Kindle; and a nice hot latte. What I don’t have: the TV on; piles of papers or other reminders of my to-do list within sight; stack of holiday catalogues with puppies. Of course this is just a short list. Basically you want to have all the tools you need to be productive. Set yourself up for success, not distracted failure.
3. Change the scene. If I’m still struggling, I take myself to an energy filled location. Usually a bookstore cafe or coffee shop where there are people talking, music playing, and there is a general buzz of activity all around. I find I need to do this at least once a week to get a shot of energy and ‘find my muse’ as I like to call it. You can also go to a shared office location or, if you are tele-working for someone else, schedule a weekly meeting in the office to tap into the office energy.
4. Do something else. Yes, contrary to logic, sometimes you can’t find your muse or inspiration sitting at your desk. When my usual tactics don’t work, I do something else – but still something productive. Most powerful for me: go for a jog or walk the dog to help remove my mental or motivational blocks. There are physiological reasons this works, but the bottom line is getting your butt in gear helps you to get your mind in gear as well. Staying physically healthy and strong will do wonders for your mental state (a topic for another post). Sometimes all it takes is turning up the music and doing a wild dancing in my office (yep, it’s hilarious!)
5. Tap into the power of accountability: invest in an advisor / coach (shameless plug). The power of coaching is something to be experienced for the anywhere worker especially. The coach can play several roles for you: keep you accountable for your weekly goals; help you identify what obstacles may be keeping you from being productive; help you identify and build necessary skills to be an anywhere worker; be a brainstorming partner; and be your sounding board. I always have a coach on board (what kind of coach would I be if I didn’t subscribe to my own philosophy?) With a coach I accomplish more, stay positive and inspired more, and develop myself more than I ever could alone. I may cut back on my latte or e-book budget, but never on coaching.
Not all of these work all of the time. Sometimes I’ll start to listen to a podcast and get even more annoyed than inspired. When that happens I stop and move on to another approach. The key is to find several approaches so that you can use the right tool for the right situation.
I would love to know what you are using to stay motivated! Please share your ideas in the comments. We all learn from each other!