Getting Motivated Is A Lot Like Dieting

There are days I get into the office and I know that the first three or four things on my list are menial, trivial, and downright annoying. Invoicing. Tracking expenses. Administrative blah-bliddy-blah. Other mornings I may have a task that is going to be very taxing. It may be intimidating. I may have been stressing about it all night. I know the way to handle these tasks is not to check out the new movie trailers or bone up on the latest fantasy baseball news. I know this. I know that if I go check out Deadspin or the A.V. Club, the next thing I know it’s going to be 10 o’clock and I’m going to be kicking myself. I know this. I absolutely know this.


So how do I keep myself on track? Well:


1)    I have a list. I write mine down. On paper. I’ve tried the apps and the online stuff, but it doesn’t work for me.  I’d like to say I make this list at night before I leave so it is fresh and ready to go the next morning, but I’m usually running out to pick up my daughter, get to the gym, or get home to get dinner on the table. The list tends to miraculously update itself at random times. Strange how that happens.


2)    When I sit down in the morning, before I check my email or the Pirates box score (but after I make the coffee of course), I knock out a task. It doesn’t have to be a big one. Something simple. It is amazing how great you feel having accomplished something first thing in the morning, especially compared to the drudgery of realizing you’ve wasted a perfectly good hour on Lifehacker. It will affect your mindset, and improve your entire day.


3)    I use a timer. I downloaded the Alinof Timer. I set it for 50 minutes and crank stuff out. When it goes off (I love when it goes off. It gets right in your face), I reset it for ten minutes and use that time to either get away from the computer or catch up on something I wanted to do first thing in the morning. Then I set it for another 50 minutes and repeat as necessary.


4)    I’ve tried a ton of different diets. Sparkpeople, Weight Watchers, P90X, Flat Belly Diet. They’ve all generally worked…for a few months. They’re all basically the same. Whatever the angle is, you have to be dedicated and diligent, but in order to be able to stick to them (for a few months), there has to an incentive. There has to be a payoff, something to actually look forward to. That’s the treat night. That one meal a week where you get to let loose and eat whatever garbage you want. That’s how I view the half hour or hour I may take to catch up with what’s going on in the world. It’s my incentive for being productive and staying on my deadlines. Believe me you feel much less guilty about taking some time for yourself after you’ve had a good productive day than you do first thing in the morning.


5)    Stop to make coffee. A lot. I do not consider this a waste of time at all.


How do you stave off procrastination? I’m always looking for tips.