Wednesday, October 14, 2009

v31.1: Motivate Yourself

Good morning folks,

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Back when I starting writing Musings I was motivated and focused.  It isn't everyday that someone can sit down at a computer, write a few lines of text throwing in the odd slurp here and there and make people smile or laugh.  Over the years my musings have been light hearted, sad and even boring (trust me, I've read them).  I like to think of Musings over Coffee as my playground where I get to play and exercise my writing talent(?).  I have a much broader audience than I thought as I've had quite a few people (here at work especially) come up to me and comment on my "blog" or say they have spoken to someone who has read my "blog".  First off, welcome to those who are long time readers and have never posted a comment.  I know you're out there and I welcome you to my domain of insanity.

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garbageToday my topic is simple and is something many of us have issues with (myself included) and that is how to motivate yourself.  To Motivate is simply defined as giving incentive for action.  In other words, giving yourself (or someone else) a reason to do something.  Many of us dread the day-to-day tasks of life.  Things like washing the dishes, cleaning the house, taking out the trash and all the other things that we need to do on a daily/weekly basis.  Some of us need to get motivated, others do it out of habit.  When the garbage is starting to smell and making the house stink, that is your motivation (or incentive) to take out the trash.  There are also things that are left undone as the motivation isn't quite there yet to finish or start the task.  Have a leaky faucet that needs fixing?  How about those heaters, are they ready for winter and cleaned out?  What about that collection of dust that has somehow accumulated on the top of the kitchen cabinets?

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listI'm pointing the finger at myself here as well because I tend to let these "little" things slide and never find the "time" to go and do them.  I always find something "better" to do which is only a temporary distraction until I remember what really needs to be done.  So how can we get motivated to do these things?  I would like to reintroduce you to something that very few people use anymore.  This tool is well known but it is so versatile it can be used in almost any situation you face day-to-day.  I'm going to reintroduce you to "The List"!

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messy_roomWhat is a list you ask?  Of course you didn't ask, but I need to get a certain word count here to make it feel like I accomplished something today.  Perhaps I will put the question to my readers.  Without looking it up, in your own words, define the word list for me.  To make this list we're going to go back to the olden days and use a piece of paper and a writing tool (pencil is my preference) and we're going to start in the room where you spend the most time.  For me this is the bathroom because I am my mother's son (too much info?).  Using the piece of paper (or pad or whatever you decided to write on) and the writing tool, create a list (hopefully you defined it properly) of all the things in that room that annoy you.  If you think the shelves look too cluttered or the stack of magazines looks too disordered, write it down.  Look over everything, even behind the toilet and write it all down.  Hopefully you've found a few things and you're beginning to generate a list.  Now, go to the next room in your house you spend the most time, for me that is the bedroom (giggidy giggidy alllllright) and begin recording all the things that cause annoyance.  Bed unmade or clothes hanging out of the dresser drawers, write it all down.

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todo-nothingContinue with this exercise until you've gone through your entire living area.  Basement, spare bedrooms, kitchen, even go outside and take a walk around your house and record everything you see there that you feel is out of place or needs work.  At the end of this exercise (which should take you some time) you should have a list, or more specifically a To-Do List.  That's right, you've heard about it, you've maybe seen pictures of it but by the gods you've created one on your own, behold YOUR To-Do List.  Now before you faint and become overwhelmed with the awesomeness of the To-Do List, I need you to have a seat, take a few breaths and look at the list again.  That's right, it is still there and staring back at you.  These are the things you now need to do.  To simply visualize the issue isn't enough to motivate, you need to write it down and manifest it as a problem or annoyance.  Now that it has been addressed and identified, you can take the steps necessary to correct the wrongs.

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coffeeWhat you do from here is up to you.  If you've done the exercise as I've instructed, you have at least a bit of motivation in you to go through the exercise of identifying problems in your home.  Take this list and post it somewhere you will see it multiple times a day; I will post mine on the bathroom door.  Now, instead of focusing on all the things in your house that annoy you, focus on the list.  Every day pick at least one item on this list and correct the issue.  I'd start with the things that are easiest to accomplish like cleaning the dust off the coffee machine because you'd rather spend $2/day buying your morning coffee than making it yourself.  Just some quick math for you, the average working person who buys their coffee will spend approximately $3/day.  Take that and multiply it by the number of working days in a year (minus vacations and holidays) and you're looking at approximately $600 a year spent on coffee.  Now I'm no mathematician but I think a jar of coffee you make yourself is much cheaper to make and probably tastes a whole lot better.  For you Tim Horton's fans out there (raises hand) why is it that Tim Horton's coffee doesn't taste like any other coffee you can buy?  I've had coffee at a lot of coffee places (Star Bucks, Second Cup, Convenience Stores) and they all taste basically the same.  When you go to Tim Horton's it tastes different and for most of us, we like the taste over the other coffees.  Why is that?  Just wanted to throw that out there to spark a comment or two.

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clutter-freeNow that you have started working on your list (what?  you're still sitting here reading this?) you can begin to cross off the items that are done.  That magazine rack in your living room that was disorganized and had an old National Geographic from 1983 with some of the pages stuck together, is now organized and looks neat.  The clutter of papers and other various "things" that used to sit at the end of the counter top is now gone and things are put away.  As you clear of more and more things from your list, the more you will become motivated to do these things on a semi-regular basis.  You will begin to take pride in your home and begin to see changes both inside and out in your life.  I don't need a statistic to tell me that a motivated person is more likely to get things done than an unmotivated person, that is common sense.

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time-travelAnyway folks, time is not my friend today as it continues to move forward despite me telling it to stop.  I'm going to write that down on my list: find a way to stop time.  Remember the list, love the list and don't forget to comment with your definition of the word list.  I'd really like to read what you have to say and see what other tips and tricks you have for getting motivated.  Also, if you plan on building a time machine, please don't use a DeLorean.  Everyone knows the DeLorean would never survive the temporal field needed to make time travel possible; and the flux capacitor is fake, it was only used in the movie "Back to the Future" to divert people from the truth about time travel.

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Cheers,

Al