Placeholder Image

Subtitles section Play video

  • Let's be honest with each other here.

  • You're not actually supposed to be on YouTube right now.

  • Right?

  • Now you probably have some huge assignment

  • that's staring at you from your desk right now,

  • but the thought of doing any work

  • on that assignment right now

  • is the last thing on your mind

  • because you have literally no motivation to do it.

  • And if you're feeling that way,

  • well you're not alone.

  • I feel that way all the time.

  • And despite all the years I have put

  • into productivity research

  • and all the videos you see on this channel,

  • at least once a week

  • I run into a situation where I have to do something

  • and I have basically no motivation to do it.

  • So this is a pretty common problem.

  • And despite those immortal words from Shia LaBeouf

  • constantly ringing in our heads ...

  • Just do it!

  • A lot of us continually deal with it.

  • Now within the realm of productivity,

  • there are both long term fixes and short term fixes.

  • And for a problem like this,

  • a problem of motivation,

  • long term fixes would be things like

  • building better self discipline

  • or building strong habits

  • or creating a better study space.

  • But today I wanna focus on the short term fixes.

  • If you have something that you need to get done today,

  • but you're feeling completely unmotivated,

  • what can you do?

  • Well today I'm gonna go through a four step process

  • that I go through every single time

  • that I'm feeling this way.

  • And through personal experience over several years,

  • I have learned that doing these things really does help,

  • even if my brain tells me that,

  • this time I really am having an off day.

  • This time it's not going to work.

  • When I actually take the time

  • and put in the effort to put these things into practice,

  • they really do help.

  • And the first one on the list is to simply

  • go outside and go for a walk.

  • This is probably the simplest practice on the list.

  • But it's also the one that my brain

  • always tries to convince itself that it doesn't need to do.

  • Because when I have a lot of work to do,

  • the thought of getting up from my desk

  • and going outside,

  • seems like a huge waste of time.

  • But every single time that I do it,

  • when I'm feeling unmotivated

  • or I'm dealing with brain fog,

  • it always helps to raise my motivation levels

  • and clear my head.

  • Now I could send you all sorts of scientific evidence

  • about why this is true.

  • For instance,

  • Dr. John Ratey's book, "Spark,"

  • goes into all sorts of detail about how exercise

  • raises your cognitive abilities after you do it.

  • And there are also studies that show that Vitamin D,

  • which you get primarily through sunlight exposure,

  • can help with symptoms of fatigue.

  • And there's also the Japanese concept of Shinrin-Yoku,

  • or forest bathing,

  • which asserts that exposure to nature,

  • you know forests and trees like this,

  • can have all sorts of health benefits.

  • But the main thing I want to share here

  • is my personal experience with this practice.

  • Because my ability to focus is always

  • 100% of the time improved when I choose to go for a walk.

  • Or to be more accurate,

  • whenever I choose to go outside and do any kind of exercise.

  • Could be playing basketball or skateboarding.

  • The reason I chose to focus on walking here

  • is that it's easy.

  • You don't need any equipment.

  • You don't need a basketball.

  • You don't need a bike.

  • And you can even do it if it's cold.

  • As they say in Norway,

  • there is no such thing as bad weather,

  • only bad clothes.

  • Now let's go back to the studio.

  • So once you've gone out and finished that walk

  • and you brought your mental energy up just a little bit,

  • the next thing on the list to do

  • is to decide on one specific task to work on.

  • If you have a to do list with multiple items on it,

  • put it away.

  • You need to commit to a single task

  • and you don't want that to do list

  • to be a temptation to jump to something else

  • once it gets difficult.

  • It's all about committing.

  • Imagine a hamster ball with three different hamsters in it.

  • If all those hamsters

  • are trying to go their own little separate direction,

  • then that hamster ball is going to go nowhere.

  • But if they all decide to go in one direction,

  • well they're probably going to trip all over each other

  • because hamster balls

  • were not designed for multiple hamsters,

  • but luckily your brain is not a hamster ball.

  • And when you decide on one specific direction to go in

  • and you commit to it,

  • you make progress.

  • Now you can make this commitment purely mental.

  • But I also find that it sometimes works

  • to pull out a scrap of paper

  • and write down the task that you decide to work on,

  • so that way it can be sitting next to you on your desk

  • and constantly reminding you if you start to forget.

  • And if you want an electronic solution,

  • there's also a chrome extension called momentum,

  • which basically replaces your new tab screen

  • with a cool wallpaper

  • and it lets you decide on one singular focus

  • that you can type in and then set.

  • Alright onto step three in the process.

  • Once you've decided on that one task

  • you're going to work on,

  • the next step is to clear to neutral.

  • This means to clear up your work space,

  • your desk,

  • and your desktop on your computer,

  • and setting that space back to a state

  • where it's prepped for that single task

  • you decided to work on and nothing else.

  • Anthony Bourdain talks about a similar concept

  • in his book, "Kitchen Confidential."

  • He talks about how a chef that he used to work with

  • went up to one of his line cooks

  • and ran his hands across the cooks really dirty,

  • crumb-filled cutting board,

  • put it up to his face and said,

  • this is what your brain looks like.

  • Work clean.

  • Every chef knows the value of mise en place.

  • Did I get that right this time?

  • - [Offscreen Male] Yep. - Yes!

  • Which is a French term that essentially means,

  • everything in its place.

  • When your work area is organized

  • and set up for the task that you have decided on,

  • you are going to work on that task a lot more effectively.

  • Again remember that hamster ball.

  • Finally,

  • to actually get yourself into the process of doing the task,

  • utilize what I like to call,

  • the low effort hack.

  • This is a useful little mental hack that I use,

  • on pretty much,

  • a daily basis.

  • Because usually when I feel mental resistance to a task,

  • like researching for a video

  • or writing a video script,

  • that mental resistance is usually because

  • of how difficult it is to do the task well.

  • If I'm writing a video script,

  • usually I feel resistance writing the next paragraph

  • because I feel like it needs to have a better word play

  • or a funny reference.

  • And when I'm researching,

  • I know that it's gonna be difficult

  • to actually find the scientific studies

  • that will back up what I'm trying to say.

  • But,

  • and this is where the whole low effort thing comes in,

  • what isn't difficult

  • is just writing what's on the top of my mind right now.

  • If I can't come up with a joke or a reference

  • that will make the segment I'm writing funnier,

  • that's fine.

  • I'll just write what's in my head right now

  • and I'll come back and make it funnier later.

  • And it's the exact same story when I'm referencing research.

  • If I really don't want to go find the exact source

  • or that one fact that I'm trying to reference,

  • then I won't.

  • In the script I'll put in brackets and all caps,

  • reference that one study and figure out where it came from,

  • and then I'll do that later.

  • Now doing this means that you're creating something

  • that you're gonna have to come back and fix later on.

  • But that's okay.

  • Remember the blank page is the enemy.

  • It's far easier

  • to come back and fix an imperfect mess later on,

  • then it is to create something perfect

  • from scratch on the first try.

  • That imperfect mess

  • gives you hand holds that you can grab onto.

  • Additionally,

  • another huge benefit of starting from a place of low effort,

  • is that sometimes

  • you just need a little bit of a warm up

  • to get yourself into a place

  • where you're really creative and in the zone.

  • Back when I was a teenager,

  • my dad had a weight training schedule for me and my brother.

  • We had to work out at least three times a week.

  • And sometimes I'd come down into the gym with him

  • and I'd say,

  • dad today is an off day,

  • I really just want to go light.

  • I'm not feeling it.

  • And I will never forget what he told me

  • on one of those occasions.

  • He said that sometimes you hit your PRs,

  • your personal records,

  • on off days.

  • And I'm actually not making this up,

  • this really did happen.

  • One of those days I came down to the basement,

  • I said dad,

  • it's an off day.

  • So he had me go through a longer than normal warm-up period

  • and on that day,

  • I actually hit a PR.

  • In fact I think it was actually 2 25,

  • which if you're a weightlifter

  • you know is two plates on each side of the bar,

  • and that was one of the mentally,

  • most difficult PRs for me to hit.

  • It took me a really long time to get.

  • So that should serve as an illustration.

  • Even if you feel like today is an off day,

  • just use that low effort hack

  • and put some time in.

  • There is a big difference

  • between your state of mind before you start working

  • and your state of mind once you're in the flow state

  • once you're immersed in your project.

  • The trick is just getting yourself there.

  • So one of the things I've been working on for a while now,

  • kind of behind the scenes,

  • is a brand new design for my website,

  • College Info Geek,

  • which is where you may have seen

  • some of the articles that go along with the videos I make.

  • Though,

  • I should probably say,