Monday Motivation #5 (6/15/2020)
I hit a bit of a slump last week, personally. A few schedule changes, a couple days of all-day-on-zoom meetings, a migraine, and weird weather somehow combined to put me into a funky mood where I just didn’t want to work (insert whiny voice to get the full effect!).
There are a bunch of short humans and a furry friend living in my house, so dealing with their needs meant I still had some semblance of a schedule most days. But motivating myself to fill the in-between times with productive work was a challenge, to say the least. Luckily, I’ve developed a whole bunch of strategies over the years to prompt myself into getting something done, even when I just don’t feel like it. This week I’m sharing some of my favorite strategies — try them out and see if they resonate for you, or send me your own tips and tricks for getting tasks done when you’re just not in the mood.
That being said, it’s important to note that my funky mood was temporary and I was able to bounce back using some tried-and-true tricks. If you’re struggling and aren’t able to restore some sense of normalcy within a few days, please be sure to reach out for help — longer or deeper emotional slumps might be a sign that you need more support in order to feel better again. The folks at CAPS (https://caps.msu.edu/) and Employee Assistance (https://eap.msu.edu/) are great resources for graduate students.
Three Things to Try This Week
The Pomodoro Technique — I’ve got a little red tomato kitchen timer on my desk, and when I’m not feeling particularly motivated I set the timer in short increments (10, 15 or 20 minutes) and commit to working just until the bell rings. If I’ve gotten into the flow of work, I can reset the timer and keep going after a quick break to stretch — or I can just quit and go do something else for a bit. You can read about the development of this technique here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pomodoro_Technique
Write Fast, Edit Slow — when I’m not in the mood to write, but have to make progress on a writing task I like the “write fast, edit slow” approach. Google will give you a number of references for this approach, but here’s a quick summary: https://unstick.me/write-fast-edit-slow/. I also find it can be helpful to work on the low-energy/less creative parts of writing: developing a bullet point outline, linking in my Zotero citation management system, organizing references, reading through the formatting requirements and setting up the document appropriately, etc.
Watch a Professional Development Video — professional development is one of those tasks that’s important, but often gets pushed way down the priority list. When I’m not feeling particularly motivated to work, sometimes I try to relax(?) with a training video. The MSU Work Life Office has a great menu of recorded webinars; check out this one that’s called “Not Another ‘How to be More Efficient’ Story” https://worklife.msu.edu/node/901
- Email email@example.com if you want to be added to the Teams space for Engineering Graduate Students. Come see who is studying for quals, check out others’ timelines and summer goals, or just find a place to connect with other students who are working from home this summer.
- Take a break and try something new! I learned to make these origami frogs when I was a kid and had fun “racing” my siblings’ frogs: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uj5t4klo-SA
- Searching for “motivation hacks” can be a little overwhelming, but here’s a website that lists 9 options in case you’re looking for more tips and tricks: https://medium.com/@thirtyapp/10-scientifically-proven-motivation-hacks-you-can-use-to-boost-productivity-today-cb8d6ad2c892