Last Second Motivation: When All Else Fails

Sometimes, when you need some last second motivation, the rulebook needs to go out the window. I'm a big proponent of eating healthily and being as goal oriented as possible, but when you have an impending deadline, such as in an hour or two, and you are finding it impossible to focus, there are a few things you can do to get yourself in the right mindset to work. I won't include coffee and caffeine here, because it doesn't tend to work for me. Whenever I have caffeine, I get about a 20 minutes burst of productivity, followed by being too jumpy to keep my thoughts together. Here are some last second motivation tips that have worked.

5. Cold Awakening

If you need to wake up your brain, there's nothing like pouring the coldest water your sink can stand and washing your hair in it. This last second motivation technique will shock you back into reality and will alert your fight or flight response to get your head back in the game. As you massage the shampoo in, make sure to use your fingers to rub your scalp, to help oxygen flow to the place it's needed most: your head! Keep a towel close by so that you don't get water all over your clothes and the floor.

4. Snack-Based Milestones

When I was forced to keep myself afloat with $15 articles at Demand Studios, at one point needing to write eight mind-numbing assignments per day, I used the snack-based milestones approach to keep my energy up throughout the five to six hours necessary. If you eat a large snack at the beginning of a writing session, you are bound to crash about an hour or two later. If instead, you keep your blood sugar up by eating a small snack, like 1/2 or 1/4 of a protein bar after each milestone you set, you'll be able to keep yourself going the whole way through. Pick milestones that are at least half an hour apart and make sure not to cheat by eating too much of your snack!

3. Techno Music on Pandora

I discovered this trick a few years ago from a roommate who used to listen to nothing but techno on Pandora. I was faced with a writing deadline that I was coming very close to failing and I decided to bring up some fast-paced, wordless music to get me pumped up. I found that the music temporarily helped my brain to move faster and my fingers to move more quickly. I think this method of last second motivation has diminishing returns after a few hours, but if you need a boost and you're distracted by most other music, techno can lend a helping hand. Party in the club!

2. Vocal Encouragement

I used to think that the Tony Robbins school of loud vocal self-encouragement was a bit silly. That being said, I've used it from time to time to pump myself up when I found that my writer's block was a matter of beating myself up. This style of last second motivation takes the format of telling yourself you can do the project and anything at all, loudly and with large gesticulations. This helps to get your adrenaline pumping to push past the fear of what was holding you back. It is loud and brash and I wouldn't recommend it in public, but you're bound to get a little extra boost when you need it using this method.

1. Pushups and Sit-ups

So much of your ability to focus is based on the flow of oxygen to your brain. If you are staring at the screen and nothing is coming to you, it's time to bust out the old pushups and sit-ups routine. This last second motivation technique has gotten me through my most difficult assignments. I've been completely blocked with no hope whatsoever and a set of 25 pushups and 25 sit-ups has brought me through it. If you aren't a triceps, chest and abs kind of person, try some yoga ashtanga sun salutations to get the blood flowing.

Try all five of these in rapid succession if you're having major issues focusing. You're bound to be able to power through any case of last second writer's block with these tricks at your beck and call. Happy writing!

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