How to motivate yourself instantly

What’s your go-to method for motivating yourself to get started with something?

Surely the most popular method is to drink coffee. A cup of coffee motivates you pretty quickly because the caffeine “wakes up” your brain a little more.

But when you’re at work and you need some motivation, you might not want to drink an extra cup of coffee. Too much coffee, or coffee in the late afternoon or evening, will mess with your sleep. And that will just make things worse tomorrow.

Sleeping well will do the trick, too, whether at night or when you take a nap.[note]See Russell Foster or Matthew Walker on this topic.[/note] But you might not be able to take a nap at work. And even if you are able to, taking a mid-day nap might be a bad idea.[note]Taking a nap will improve your cognitive function, so if you want to be at your best in the late afternoon, taking a mid-day nap can be smart. But if you have trouble falling asleep at night, napping will only exacerbate that problem, because after a nap you’ll be less tired in the evening.[/note]

So when a nap isn’t an option, try this: move your body.

Walk around the office. Stretch your limbs. Pace back and forth. It doesn’t matter much how you move, as long as you do it.

Erik Scherder, a charismatic professor of clinical neuroscience, bangs the drum for moving your body to improve your brain function. The neuroscience on this topic is fascinating.

For example, Professor Scherder explains that your prefrontal cortex works better when you move your body (in Dutch). Because the prefrontal cortex is responsible for planning and decision-making, moving around will increase your motivation.

I’ve had my share of trying to think myself into feeling motivated. You know, when you sit down and you think “I really should get started with this now”.

It doesn’t work.

Instead, when you need motivation, just get up and move around. You’ll find the motivation you want quickly.


— Peter

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