By Siobhan Colgan
We all have days when exhaustion gets the better of us and our motivation crashes. Typically, we reach for coffee or sugar to energize. Or we sink into the sofa. All treat the symptom; none cures the disease.
We need to find a fix within ourselves. That way, when we hit a wall, we’ll always know we’re capable of scaling it—or running through the damn thing.
Here are six expert-approved ways to jumpstart your mojo in 60 seconds or less.
The best way to get the job done is to start the job. So claims Steven Pressfield, author of War of Art. No drama. No discussion. Just sit down and do your work.
Once you start, you won’t want to stop. This is the Zeigarnik effect, or the human tendency to become preoccupied with a task until it’s finished. People have better memory for tasks and a greater compulsion to complete them once the ball starts rolling.
Physical space is a powerful driver of motivation. Charles Duhigg, Pulitzer-prize winning writer and productivity expert, says that we mentally connect certain behaviors and habits with particular places.
So, for example, you associate your bedroom with sleeping and the family room for winding down. If you work at home, then, the temptation to slack will be irresistible if your office is your bed or sofa.
Find a different spot, one that you haven’t already pre-judged, and only use it when you’re getting stuff done. Then you’ll begin to associate it with productivity.
Music is an underappreciated and underutilized motivator. A study from Sheffield Hallam University found that cyclists who move in time to music hold a steadier pace and use less oxygen than those who don’t.
Sociologist Christine Carter, Ph.D., author of Sweet Spot, says this is because music can stimulate the body and mind to use energy more efficiently. In fact, Carter has a special playlist for when she needs to focus on her most important, deep thinking work.
“Music can raise our energy and focus our attention,” she says. “It allows us to release stress and tension and helps us to move quickly into a state of flow.”
What type of music is best? The research varies, but much of it suggests that tunes you love provide the biggest kick.
If a task feels too big, break it down. Harvard Business School professor Teresa Amabile, coauthor of The Progress Principle, amassed 12,000 diary entries from 238 employees across seven different companies and discovered that people were most motivated to succeed when they could see their progress happening in real time.
When you are feeling most exhausted, start by tackling the smallest tasks on your to-do list. “Track your small wins to motivate big accomplishments,” Amabile says.
Michael Phelps famously visualizes winning every race before he swims (his game face during 2016 Olympic finals in Rio became an Internet meme), but he’s not the only athlete to use this powerful technique to get fired up.
Australian psychologist Alan Richardson did a fascinating visualization study with three groups of basketball players. All groups had their free throw percentage measured on the first and twentieth days of the study. Between those tests, the first practiced shooting free throws every day for 20 minutes and the second did nothing. Meanwhile, the third group visualized shooting free throws for 20 minutes a day. If they “missed,” they had to keep mentally shooting until they fixed their mechanics.
The result? The practice group improved their shooting percentage by 24 percent, and the visualization group improved 23 percent. The second group saw no improvement.
You can apply this technique to work, sports, and tough conversations. Visualize completing your work, and you’ll prepare yourself to actually do it.
We don’t need to tell you that exercise can boost your energy and productivity levels. But you don’t need to go on a five-mile run, or do an hour-long workout. Experts say even low-intensity physical activity like walking or yoga can jumpstart your metabolism and pump out some happiness-releasing endorphins.
“We sometimes lose sight of the fact that the mind, brain, and body all influence one another,” says John Ratey, M.D., a Harvard Medical School psychiatrist and best-selling author of Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain. “In addition to feeling good physically, you feel good about yourself.”
Originally published at life.spartan.com