2. Do Something Different
Another thing that helps when it comes to motivation is task switching. Particularly after a long day, or a long week, it’s easy to think of our motivation as a tank that’s running out of gas. And to be sure, when it comes to physical exertions, that’s definitely the case.
But when it comes to mental exertion, we’re not as limited as we think, according to a recent study from researchers at the University of Toronto.
“Our results are consistent with theories showing that people lose motivation within a specific task,” said Dan Randles, an author, in a statement. “But at odds with theories that argue self-control is general resource that can be exhausted.”
In other words, it’s not so much the work that’s tiring, it’s doing the same exact work for too long that leaves us feeling drained. That that suggests is that you’re better off trying to stay focused if you schedule some task switching throughout your day.
Interestingly enough, this finding also has ramifications as far as human learning, too. When you’re trying to master something, you’re best off studying in frequent, short, bursts as opposed to trying to drill something into your head.
1. Game-i-fy the Drudgery
Humans are sometimes pretty dumb. One of the most bizarre findings about human motivation is that we really seem to love it when are rewards are batched into categories, even as it turns out, when those categories are stupid and meaningless.
That’s according to a study from researchers at the University of Southern California which found that people were more likely to complete tasks for rewards in two different categories than when the rewards are all pulled from a single pool. The categories were meaningless, but that didn’t seem to matter.
What’s at play here might be the enduring fear of missing out on something better, a powerful human motivator (that also helps explain why we have such a hard time ignoring our phones.)
So if the same old rewards that used to get you through the 3 o clock hump aren’t working anymore, consider mentally breaking them up into categories (for example food rewards, enjoyable online content rewards, talking a walk outside rewards) and then incentivizing yourself with those. The utterly irrational desire to get one of each will motivate you more than that chocolate croissant, or that Clickhole quiz, or that walk around the block will on their own.
And then, hunker down. You’re almost there.
This has been an adapted version of our Strategy newsletter, a weekly rundown of the most pertinent financial, career, and lifestyle advice you’ll need to live your best life. I’m James Dennin, innovation editor at Inverse. If you’ve got money or career questions you’d like to see answered here, email me at email@example.com — and pass on Strategy with this link!