Intrinsic Motivation and Magical Unicorns

The art and science of time management.

Who Has Time to Meditate 5 Times a Day? You do, already!

Take advantage of natural breaks in your daily routine.

I encourage clients to invest in a 10-minute morning review of commitments and activities scheduled for the day.  10 minutes, every day.  Asking questions like “What am I doing today that I will remember one year from now?” and “Which of these activities will be fun and engaging, and which will be harder for me?” and “What are the 2-3 most important things I can do today – what conversation or email or action item will make the biggest difference?”

And inevitably we’ll get pulled off course – over the course of the day there will be distracting conversations and thoughts and YouTube videos. How do we get back on track after these diversions?

My answer? Stop and meditate five times each day. Not for long, and not a rigorous or formal type of meditation – just 5 brief “check-ins” with our core goals and purposes.

But David, who has time to stop and meditate 5 times a day?

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Ahhh, Grasshopper – that’s where this strategy comes in. Take advantage of natural breaks in your daily routine to pause. And reflect. To check in at a deep level and ask whether you’re engaged and on-task.  Doing what matters most right now.

Some examples of natural breaks in our routine might include:

• Staring off into space for a few minutes waiting for the coffee to brew

• Standing by the photocopier during a big job, while the machine hums “whuzzh, whuzzh, whuzzh.”

• And - this one’s my favorite – when nature calls. You absolutely positively will stop several times over the course of your day to use the bathroom. Don’t use that time to distract yourself with Facebook (that’s nasty!).  Use that moment, rather, to notice your use of energy and time up to that point in your morning.  When else do you get the chance to have such a private, naked (almost) contemplative moment?

So that's the strategy - check in with your body at moments like that and gently ask “how am I doing so far?”  And just notice whether you feel forward-movement and lightness (that’s dopamine!) And check in with your head, too. Notice whether you’re on task. "Have I done the one most important thing today that will make the biggest advance towards my most important goal? Am I on target?"

And then, get back to your routine until another natural break presents itself. And another.

 

 

 

photos:  flickr and morgueFile

David D. Nowell, Ph.D., is a neuropsychologist interested in motivation, focus, and fully-engaged living.

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