Sunday, December 30, 2012


It’s generally really easy for me to keep going if I’ve already got a bit of momentum, but if things have derailed me and caused me to focus elsewhere, Newton’s First Law decides that it also applies to motivation and proceeds to kick my backside.

Translation – if I stop, it takes real work to get going again.

It’s also fair to say that, for me at least, large tasks are intimidating, but breaking them into smaller chunks makes them more manageable because it lets me just consider the current step and leave subsequent steps for a little later.

Big = difficult. Little = easier. Makes sense, right? Less stuff, less to be overwhelmed by.

Or, to paraphrase my sifu a bit “Concentrate on now right now. Later will come when it is time.”

A few years ago, I found a way to motivate myself when learning something new from a book or video as well as when working on projects. Thankfully it plays into the fact that I’m a big fan of marker boards (I have several in my office to help keep myself organized and to brainstorm) so it doesn’t take any additional expense on my part.

I write the name of the book or video series on the marker board and then put down the chapter or video numbers. As I work through it, I erase the numbers for the chapters that I’ve covered.

This does two things:

First, it lets me keep track of where I am. This is especially helpful if I’m doing a video series or a web-based lesson plan.

Second, it lets me see that I have actually been making progress so I don’t get lost in the feeling that I’m never going to get anywhere in what I’m doing (I’m pretty sure that I’m not the only one that has this problem. It’s downright overwhelming to look at how much you have to learn, and every time you learn something, it shows you other things that you need to learn).

Some people will prefer to strike through the numbers or put a check mark next to them after they’ve finished, but I prefer to erase for one very simple reason – it lets me actually SEE the list of things I need to do shrink. If the numbers are still there, the size of the task never visually changes so my brain still says “Hey, there’s still this daunting list of things that we have to do.”

If I erase the numbers, my brain goes “Wow. We’re making progress! Maybe we can do this thing after all.”

Yes, it’s a stupid psychological trick, but in my case it works.

I guess that means it’s not so stupid after all…

Current mood: undecided
Current music: Adam and the Ants – Room at the Top

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