How Are We Motivated?

For our latest PGP milestone, we were tasked to read an article by James Clear. James Clear, author of the book Atomic Habits, has shaped most of our PGP class this year. His methods for productivity and self-improvement are simple and straight forward, making them work for almost anyone. I have a full blog post here from our last milestone about him!

The article that I was most drawn to was called How to Get Motivated When You Don’t Feel Like It. This article inspired me because I have been having a hard time being motivated now that school is being done online. I annotated this document with highlights and notes of the most inspiring parts to me. I have less motivation to get out of bed and work because I don’t have a set schedule. For me, being motivated is the only way that I can enjoy working. In his article, Clear writes in a very understandable way. He uses the example of baseball and other sports to relate his topics back to real-world experiences. While most self-help books would simply show the reader the authors mindset and back it up with hard to understand evidence about surveys or unreasonable accomplishments, Clear’s writing instead focuses on the ways that these methods can relate to and help anyone who needs it. This style of writing convinced me to give his methods a go.

In the article, Clear lays out his system for creating motivation. He starts the article off by describing the challenges of motivation. This sets up his later points by showing his personal experiences instead of acting as if he is better than the average person for everything he does. His example of baseball shows the way in which he feels a personal connection to this issue and how he can prove his argument. His issue while playing baseball was that he needed a way to perform well even while he was unmotivated. The way that he solved this problem was to create a “pre-game routine” of actions and behaviours to do every time before your habit. This creates motivation from something that does not need the motivation to do. While I have not had the personal experience of playing baseball or any other sports seriously, I have had trouble with motivation for doing my schoolwork. It is always easier to avoid doing something than to do it, which has always been a prevalent issue for me. I’ve found that the most important thing I can do to help this right now is to get out of bed before 10 and to get dressed and ready for the day.

The first step of the pregame routine is to do something easy. This could be drinking some water, or getting dressed, or plugging in your phone. The point of this is to do something that you don’t need any motivation to do. In Clear’s words, “so easy that you can’t say no to it”. For my routine, I started with the task of putting my contact lenses in. I can’t easily start my day without them, and it’s a very simple task that I don’t need any motivation to do.

The second step is to get moving towards your goal. Physically moving will start propelling you to motivation. As Clear says, “It’s hard to think yourself into getting motivated”. To put in my contact lenses, I have to get up and wash my hands, but I decided to add another physical step as well. My next step is to make my bed. This task is a bit complicated at the moment, as I’ve started sleeping on a pullout couch instead of my normal bed. It’s a long story, but the key part is: It takes a lot of effort to put away. This motivates me enough to be awake and ready to work, but also to diminish the chances of going back to sleep.

The last step is to follow the same pattern every day. It is important to do this in order to have a solid routine. Making motivation a routine means that you are motivated at the same time every day. This is perfect for my schoolwork, as I have been able to stay on track of my work thanks to this routine.

I have been able to connect and reflect (our two competencies for this assignment) using this article in a few ways. First of all, I have used Clear’s writing and this post to effectively and accurately communicate my understanding and growth from this assignment. I have found connections between his methods and my own life, as well as current events of today’s time such as COVID-19. I have also taken a lot of time over the past two months to reflect on my learning to be sure I’m doing my best work. Every week or two, as well, I reflect on my current schedule and make sure it is still working for me. For example, I have been using the same routine for the past two months by outlining specific times to work on specific subjects. However, I recently starting taking an online SAT test prep course, and it has nearly doubled my workload. So, I went back and reflected on the schedule I was using and made adjustments for classes that I was finishing the work for quickly and time blocked in my coursework.

This is the schedule I have made for a typical online school week!

Overall, this article has helped me to create the motivation I need to be doing my work at home while still staying on top of my classes. I will definitely continue using these methods for the foreseeable future, and even after returning to the classroom.


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