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The Motivation Experiment

Life can be rough sometimes.

I’m still struggling to be productive since I moved back home recently. I have had spurts of productivity, but it feels as if I’m fighting an uphill battle. When you’re fighting an uphill battle, your motivational strength is sapped easily.

As I wrote about in a prior article, the key to using motivation correctly is to set smaller goals that you can accomplish. Once you accomplish a goal, you’re ready to tackle the next. This is an experimental post that involves an actual experiment.

The Experiment

I’m less motivated now than I have been in months.  It’s weird. It’s hard to pinpoint any one reason, but generally I’ve been failing to focus.  There is so much I want to do at this very moment that I’m being pulled in 568 directions.  When you are being pulled in every direction – you stay in the same spot.

So my experiment is to test the motivation method I talked about earlier. I have several hours left for the rest of the day and SO much I want to do.  Today, I have literally accomplished nothing so far (how’s that for honesty?).

An interesting tidbit is that the motivation article was not talking about intra-day motivation, but I am going to apply it in this way.  I also think that having this information online where hundreds of people can see it will serve as a motivator.

My goal is to build momentum by motivating myself to accomplish tasks one after another.  Each accomplished task will take me incrementally closer to my goal of regaining my vigor for life (which is typically there).  If all goes as planned, I will go to sleep tonight being very pleased with the day and excited about my success.

Here’s What I’m Going To Do

I’ll post a list of things I want to accomplish by midnight tonight (US Eastern). At midnight, I will update this page with my results and thoughts on this experiment.  If I fail…well, I’m not going to fail.

The motivation-building list (start simple and build up to more difficult tasks):

  1. Exercise for a minimum of 30 minutes
  2. Read one chapter in a book
  3. List three items on ebay
  4. Clean my room to satisfaction
  5. Write 1,500 words in the e-book I’m working on
  6. Organize my bookmarks toolbar to satisfaction (such a mess right now – flooded with links)
  7. Transfer MS Word blog post ideas to Excel SS

I have a whopping 8 hours and 10 minutes to do this.  I’m gonna go for it. You know what?  Just making this orderly list and setting clear daily goals has my motivation climbing rapidly.  I’m excited! I’ll update this post a little bit after midnight with results.  :-)

Wish me luck!

The Update (8 Hours Later)

Readers, I just had an incredible day.  Even with the terrible start, the finish was so incredible that it made up for the first half.  In short, the experiment was a ridiculous success.  I essentially combined shock treatment and my motivation technique with an added focus on momentum building to have one of the most productive 8 hours I’ve ever had.

1. Exercise for a minimum of 30 minutes  √

Yes, I am using the square root symbol as a check mark.  :-P

For this I jogged 2.5 miles in 30-40 minutes.  Part of the way I ran while dribbling a basketball.  I wanted to start this list with exercise as it is suitable for the “shock treatment” aspect of this equation.

It worked wonders.

Not only was I out the door running 5 minutes after I published this post, but I literally had about 20 ideas for blog posts and websites during the run.  It makes me want to hire an assistant to run alongside me and take notes next time.

The run increased my motivation and positivity.  I haven’t mentioned this yet, but being positive is essential to being creative.  Knowing that, it wasn’t too surprising I came up with several good ideas.  The increased blood flow to the brain helps too.

2. Read one chapter in a book √

I read chapter one in The Hobbit.  It’s developing into a nice story.  I had trouble getting into it in the very beginning, but towards the end of the chapter I found myself very engaged.  Nice job, Tolkien!

After completing task #2, I was very encouraged by my quick reversal of a bad day.

Affiliate link above – by the way, nearly everything I link to that can be purchased will be an affiliate link to Amazon.com because I love Amazon, they sell everything, and affiliate links don’t cost you any money (but can help me a tiny bit).

3. List three items on ebay √

I did this quickly.  I could really sense the momentum from tasks 1 and 2.  It took me 30 minutes total to list three items.  This might be standard for most people, but I usually take longer with ebay when I should just focus on quickly getting rid of items for cash!

4. Clean my room to satisfaction √+

Here is the surprising MVT (Most Valuable Task).  Not only did I go well beyond my initial ideas for cleaning – I deeply organized – but cleaning up my work area resulted in an epiphany.  I believe my room being messy was the cause of my unproductive skid.

As I was talking with Tom about productivity (see it in the comments below), he mentioned that cleaning my room was busywork.  While the work itself is busywork, it unleashed a gargantuan amount of value upon completion.

Now, I can see why I instinctively placed a high priority on cleaning my room – because to me it is a cornerstone of productivity.  When my “sanctuary” is messed up, so is my life.  A cluttered environment gives me mental blocks and makes me unhappy.

5. Write 1,500 words in the e-book I’m working on √-

This is the failure in the list, but not really.  I only wrote 750 words in the book.  I’m not sure I should have set a specific word count to begin with because that can force terrible writing.

As I reached 700 words, my mind just wanted to move on to something else.  Eventually, I stopped fighting for the sake of reaching an arbitrary goal (a valuable lesson).  What I did write was quality content, however, and I look forward to finishing the book and setting it loose.

6. Organize my bookmarks toolbar to satisfaction √+

This had the same completely refreshing effect that the room cleaning did.  Life is twice as good because of this. Now my internet world is organized.  I even organized my computer files for extra credit!

7. Transfer MS Word blog post ideas to Excel SS √

This was wonderful.  I organized my blog ideas on a spreadsheet (still more to do here).

Conclusion of Experiment

I highly recommend trying this.

  1. Compile a list of tasks that you believe you have enough time to accomplish (if in doubt, aim a little low, but not too much that you can slack off!).  It is good to have a little bit of pressure that gets you focused, but too much will just overwhelm you.
  2. Once you have the list of tasks, organize them from easiest to hardest.  You’re building momentum with the small easy tasks and using that positive motion to help you complete tasks that you have been putting off.  It is a confidence-building process.

I like to start off with exercise as it serves as the shock treatment and sets a great tone for a productive day. After I ran, I was much more decisive than usual – something you need for getting things done.  I believe it had to do with increased brain activity and that “go go go” mindset carrying over from my run.

If you do decide to try this, please let me and the Deep Existence community know.  It’s cool that there is a community here.  Deep thinkers unite!  :-)

Until next time,

Stephen The Experimenter

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