You’ve made it through the bright and early first part of the morning. You either accomplished part of a goal or you have begun to pave the way to your own style of daily motivation. Some people will be able to stay at home and continue to cultivate their productivity. Most of the world, however, will be suiting up, buttoning up, or packing up on their way to their nine to five jobs. Being a creative person shackled with a non-creative job can be a tough situation for getting things done. Since your boss might frown upon you moonlighting as an author while you’re supposed to be filing forms, there are some small steps you can take to use your time wisely without getting any nasty looks or pink slips.
Note: Some of these steps appeal more to an office-bound employee, but they can be adapted for all sorts of jobs. Just be creative with them!
Mid-Morning: 8 AM – 10 AM
Many nine to five workers spend this time period sipping their Starbucks and trying to get focused on their days. Since you have already accomplished this in the early morning, you can utilize these couple of hours to increase your daily motivation and as a result, your productivity will probably rub off on your eight hour a day job as well. The name of the game in this section is learning, planning, and idea generation.
Going to Work
If you live in the big city like I do, you probably take the train or the bus to work. If you go out to the suburbs or you do not have such a cumbersome, I mean, practical public transportation system, you might take a car. These methods of transportation are a perfect opportunity for learning.
More often than not, I see people zoning out on their iPods or listening to loud music or somewhat funny morning programs on their car radios. There is an opportunity being missed here. There are some great audio programs out there that deal specifically with all subsets of personal development. There are programs on motivation, success, spiritual well-being, etc. Instead of using this audio listening time to space out, it can be used to strengthen our minds.
These types of programs are available all over the Internet, can be downloaded or checked out from your public library, or purchased at bookstores. Not all of them will resonate with you, but if you find one that you truly believe can help you improve yourself, it can leave you with a great feeling by the time you reach work. Also, a positive side-effect of a high-quality program is that you will feel more motivated for the next several hours. I suggest looking for a program on success, personal development, creativity, or any area you’ve wanted to develop.
The Daily Plan
You have arrived at work. It’s time to get situated and sit down at the desk to start plugging away. Right? Not quite yet.
This is a good opportunity for you to plan out your day, both at work and afterward. While you could spend a few minutes talking to your co-workers or get your eyes adjusted to the dim lights of the computer screen, getting a solid itinerary is going to be the most helpful for your motivation. Making this plan is the best way to find gaps in the work day where you could do some writing, a lunch break perhaps, or to figure out things that need to be accomplished after work that could get in your way of your writing time. If you can plan to knock all the required tasks out of the way, quickly and efficiently, you allow yourself to be more excited about getting the chance to write, instead of thinking that you’ll never get around to it. It is much more comforting if you can see the way that it’ll happen.
I doubt that your boss will stop you from doing this planning session, even though it happens to extend to the entire day. Tell him it helps you think and it makes you a more efficient and productive employee. If he forbids you this several minute activity, get to work a few minutes early, sit down in the lobby or at a café around the corner and plan before you go inside. This step is extremely important in your quest for daily motivation, do not skip it just because the fire-breathing dragon gets angry about it :).
The Note Pad
This is a simple but often overlooked step for a desk employee. Have a note pad available to jot down any ideas that you might generate during the day. Sometimes the doldrums of the office can make you forget some of your good ones and it’s important to not let them go. One idea can lead to another and before you know it, forgetting one good thought can make you miss out on an entire screenplay or novel.
It’s helpful to develop a little shorthand system for yourself so you’re not spending more time writing notes than working. At the end of the day you can review your notes and see if you thought of anything life-changing. If not, any idea has the chance it can be used later. An idea an hour leads to forty ideas per week, 160 per month, and 1,920 a year. At least one of them is bound to be good :).
Late Morning: 10 AM to 12 PM
This is the time when for most employees the coffee has kicked in, the salutations and donut offerings have ceased, and the real work is getting done. I do not expect a lot of writing or idea generation to be accomplished during this time, but there are still a couple items that can be addressed to further improve your daily motivation as a whole.
What do you have at your desk and cubicle area? Pictures of family? A funny office joke from a couple of months ago? A plant? The real question isn’t what you have there but how it makes you feel. Does that old Far Side comic taped to your monitor make you feel happy or cynical? Does that picture of a beautiful beach inspire you to go there for vacation or are you using it as one of those “this probably won’t happen but at least a man can dream" sort of pictures?
My suggestions for your work space: a vision board and your goals. A vision board is used along with the law of attraction to help you visualize things that you want to happen to you in the world. If you want to be wealthy, you put up pictures of the objects you would have if you were wealthy like an extravagant house, a yacht, and a huge television. At this point, when you look at the board, you must visualize yourself as if you already have these items and the positive feeling that results from that situation. The belief of the law of attraction is that by doing this exercise you will attract those things toward you. If you wish that you had the items or you get angry at yourself for not having them, the board will have the opposite effect and you will push those items farther away.
Putting up your goals can be a great tool to remind yourself why you want to stay motivated. If your goal is to make enough money at your job so that you own a bigger family house, you could type up the phrase, “I want to create a better life for my family," and post it on your cubicle wall. If you want to write a novel, post up, “I will write a novel by the end of 2009." Once again, just like the vision board, do not get angry if this hasn’t happened already, you must think positively. By surrounding yourself with your goals, it’s like having a sip of motivation every time you look up. As if you thought, “what am I still going on for?" and you looked up to find the answers all around you.
The Smart Snack
You may not be hungry at this point in the day quite yet, but it is a good idea to eat a little bit now to avoid eating a huge lunch. By eating a healthy snack, such as a banana, some nuts, and a little bit of unbuttered popcorn, you can really take the edge off of lunch and you can keep your brain fueled for the rest of the morning. When I work at an office (I moonlight as a temp sometimes) I like to keep little snacks with me all day long to keep myself at peak energy and motivation.
This snack can help you feel positive and full. If you eat a smaller lunch as a result you will help yourself around the problem of the post-lunch slump. For the snack I suggest keeping it below 300 calories and sticking to foods with little to no preservatives.
The bell has struck noon and you are feeling pretty good about yourself. After working through some bumps in the road, you have actually stayed motivated and happy from 6 AM to 12 PM. This is the hardest part for most people and if you are able to achieve this state in the morning more often than not, you are well on your way to being classified as an extremely motivated person. A strong, productive morning lays a great foundation for the afternoon and especially the evening.
I sometimes like to look at the process of daily motivation like keeping a balloon from hitting the ground. A good naturally energized breakfast pushes the balloon into the air, some thinking and productive work hits it up as gravity pulls it downward and the words of someone like Earl Nightingale smacks it once again above the floor of negativity and laziness. It can be annoying to continually hit the balloon and at times it can get discouraging, but if you are diligent in your balloon whacking, you will get more done every single day.
Try some of these ideas and techniques for 30 days and see if they help you. The worst that can happen is that you still feel crappy and detached at work. The best is that you can actually fit writing back into your work days.
Bryan Cohen is the author of more than 30 books, many of which focus on creative writing and blasting through that pesky writer's block. His books have sold more than 20,000 copies. You can find him on Google+ and Facebook.