Know Thyself

Last time I posted about willpower, and pushing yourself to get started. But what happens when you’re motivated to take action, but lack the energy to do so?

As a single mom, I find the times that I have the most “free time” to tackle my personal projects are early in the morning (before the kids are awake) and in the evening (after the kids go to bed). As a morning person, I’m definitely more likely to want to be active before the kids are awake. But my son gets up at 6 — leaving me limited time, unless I want to wake up before the sun. In the evening I have more time, as my kids go to bed early, but I also lack the energy and motivation to accomplish anything that requires a lot of activity.

Evaluate your own life. When do you have time to get things done? When are your energy levels highest? Lowest? When are you most motivated to tackle projects and really take action? This could be different times of day, or different days of the week — whatever your schedule and body rhythms look like.

Now what can you do with this information?

 

Back to the Drawing Board

By this I don’t mean to scrap your plan. I mean to literally head back to wherever you wrote down your goals and plans. What is it you’re hoping to accomplish and what do you have to do to get there?

If you haven’t already, make a note of every step you need to take to reach your goals and mini-goals. Get specific. Treat this list as a checklist of what you need to do to get where you want to be.

Once you have your checklist, take a good, hard look at it. You may notice that some tasks seem “easy” — that is, they don’t require a lot of energy or effort, just a moment of time to do them. Other tasks seem monumental, requiring a lot of effort to accomplish. If it’s helpful, sort the tasks by difficulty.

 

Schedule Your Time

Now that you know when you have the most time and energy to devote to your projects, and you know what you have to do to reach your goals, put the two pieces of the puzzle together. Determine when you’re going to tackle each of the tasks on your checklist, based on your time and energy levels. Schedule high-energy tasks when you’re at your most alert and motivated. Schedule easier tasks when you lack the energy to do much else.

In my personal example, I find it best to tackle active tasks — such as cleaning and organizing — in the morning, when I have the most energy, or on days when my kids are with someone else and I have more time. I save most computer-related tasks, such as responding to e-mails, updating websites, or posting on social media, for the evening, when I’m more inclined to want to lounge.

While it doesn’t always work out, fitting tasks in according to your moods could actually move you farther faster, and you may find yourself less likely to get lazy and unmotivated, as you’re not expecting yourself to take care of high-energy tasks at your low-energy times. And that can keep you on track and excited — and much more likely to reach your goals.

What do your moods look like? When are you most inclined to get things done?

 

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