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How to Find Your Motivation [Or at least your dirty socks]

Posted Aug 14 2011 11:50pm

image credit: Natalie Dee

“How do you do it all?” is a quesetion I get asked a lot. This usually makes me fall on my (dirty) floor laughing as I blurt, “Not well!” I’ve become a master of making easy things look difficult thereby making me look cooler, more talented, and possibly possessing 7 arms. The truth is that while I do a lot of things, I don’t do a lot of them well. For instance, I have a load of my boys’ laundry that has been rewashed four times now because I keep forgetting to move it to the dryer and so it sits for several days in the washer until I wonder what reeks like a sweaty sports bra left in my gym bag for a week before finding the damp, stinky clothes again. Once is funny. Four times is indicative of a brain injury. (Which reminds me, I need to go put those in the dryer now. I’ll be right back. Yes, I’m serious. I forgot them again until I decided to write a post where I needed an example of my awful inefficiency. Wow, it’s like Inception for the hygenically challenged.)

Whether it’s housework, homework or workwork, everyone has something that they have a hard time getting the motivation to do. It’s just one of those parts of the human condition, you know like sniffing your finger after sticking it in your bellybutton even though you know it’s going to smell like two dozen eggs forgotten in a hot car for three days (something else I also did recently). Fortunately for me, I’m super motivated to workout and write so I never need any prodding there. As you know sometimes I need help reining those impulses in. But unfortunately for me that mad motivation does not extend to, say, cleaning up the poop streaks on the downstairs toilet seat. (My strategy is to just shut the door every time I walk by and tell visitors it’s out of order but we have some nice secluded trees in the backyard.)

So how do you motivate yourself to do something you don’t want to, especially when the finale of So You Think You Can Dance is beckoning from your Hulu queue? (DON’T tell me who won! Of course it’s going to be Melanie but I want to SEE it with my own eyes.) My favorite tip is the 10 Minute Rule (which I’m sure I didn’t make up but I don’t know who did): you tell yourself you’ll just do whatever it is for 10 minutes and then you can stop if you want to. Usually you’re in the groove after 10 minutes so you’ll keep at it but if not, hey at least you got 10 minutes’ worth of stuff done!

A new site has come up with, what I think, is a pretty awesome solution. In the past there have been websites that will allow you to punish yourself for not reaching a goal – as if I need a website to point out my failures, that’s what my kids are for! – or allow you to set up a reward for yourself or inspire you with real life and/or celebrity stories of success. But takes this to a new level. I don’t usually go for stuff like this and I almost deleted the e-mail unread but I’m glad I didn’t.

Here’s how it works: you check-in every time you accomplish a daily feat – usually something that people don’t naturally want to do like “!walking” “!cleaningthebathroom” (hey-o!) or “!talkingtoakid” (yeah that’s on there! I’m gonna be a millionaire!) – and then you get points for each feat you accomplish. You can set up reminders for feats you want to accomplish or you can just go to the site or use your smartphone to mark it as done. Some feats are worth lots of points, some just get you one but you can use your points to buy real-world stuff . For instance, 3,000 points gets you a $10 gift card to Amazon, Home Depot, Starbucks or a bunch of other companies you likely frequent. Not bad for stuff you’re supposed to be doing anyhow, right? Even better, DailyFeats gives you the option of donating your points or money/goods to a charity or gifting them to a loved one. I get a nudge to switch my laundry and I get to do something nice for someone else? Love it.

Now the only trick is getting motivated enough to sign up and log my feats every day! To help get me – and you! – started, DailyFeats is offering us 50 free points by using the code greatfitnessexperiment50 when you sign up (it’s free but the bonus code expires Friday, August 19!). To be clear: I’m not getting paid by them nor am I getting any kickbacks or commissions or whatever, other than the 50 starting points. I just thought this was a really cool idea and wanted to share it:)

What’s the #1 thing that’s hardest for you to get motivated to do? What’s your best motivation tip? Anyone else ever left wet laundry in the washer for a week?

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