In Ireland there is a saying “what’s the crack?” to mean, “what is happening?” Here, though, I am referring to your drug of choice to motivate yourself. I have a number of things that I fall back on when I need an extra bump in productivity (not just coffee).
It has taken me a while to develop this “motivation crack,” but now I have a number of re-usable (and non-addictive) ways to induce the mental state I need to be productive.
One of the most effective things I have found is to pay attention how different movies, music, books, etc make me feel. These types of media are, by their very definition, supposed to elicit emotions. I noticed a long time ago that a lot of people seem to have a movie they throw on and half-watch for a while when they want to feel better. Why not apply the same tactic to motivation?
I am not advocating doing too many things at once, multitasking and thus reducing productivity. Instead, I suggest that – when it is needed – it is a viable tactic to take 30 minutes out of the day to do something to restore your motivation.
A while ago I watched the movie Limitless for the first time. Sure the whole plot is a tribute to narcissism, but who cares? The first 30 minutes are enough to make me want to go running, learn a language, start a new company and run for president all at the same time. Pirates of Silicon Valley is another movie that does the trick. Some books, like Frank Herbert’s Dune (my personal favorite) make me pensive while others (like the The 4-Hour Workweek or The Fountainhead) make me motivated. By keeping track of how each effect me I have been able to turn them into a free reusable drug to elicit the mental state I desire.
Again, it is not surprising that we each have distinct emotional responses to different people. A person whom you would like to impress will motivate you to work hard, though perhaps in a different manner than someone whom you simply respect. I firmly believe that the best teams (be it a sports team, a business startup or otherwise) come about not only because of the talent of the members, but how each person’s presence affects the others. In computer programming, there are even design and coding strategies based upon using pairs of well-matched programmers to tackle a project.
I am currently in the midst of an experiment to create an Android app in just 28 days (for a contest – I’ll post more on this when the contest is over, including the exact process we went through). There are two other members of the team, each with a unique skill set. What we have in common, though, is that we each like to work hard and see results. Simply being around each other is enough to motivate each other. On the other hand, we also each need to know when to set down the proverbial crack-pipe and go work on our own for a bit. There comes a certain point, with media or with friends, where you need to acknowledge that you have built up your motivational reserves enough and it is time to just go do it!
When I am in the right state of mind already, exercise can serve to multiply my motivation. If I go on a run I will let my mind wander to plan out the project I am working on. By the time I return from the run, I am excited to start implementing all the things I have planned, not to mention energized from all the adrenaline. The trick is simply to start working right away, and not let the endorphins wear off before I can start (thus leading to a crash).
Do you have some sort of motivational crack? What is it? Let me know below!