How to Ride the Wave of Motivation

Do the hardest things in your day when you’re feeling the best.
September 30, 2017

Stanford University professor B.J. Fogg looks at motivation a bit differently than most. In Fogg’s model, motivation is a wave with peaks and valleys, and the goal isn’t to stay at a constant peak, but rather to recognize the valleys and adjust your efforts accordingly.

According to Fogg, it’s not realistic to expect focused attention from yourself at all times. Instead the key is to become more aware of your daily (or even hourly) fluctuations in motivation and do the hardest things in your day when you’re feeling the best.

Related: The 5 Best Ways to Motivate Yourself

For example, you might use this approach to trick yourself into working out every morning. You know that when you get up in the morning and you’ve just had your first meal, your willpower is at the highest point it will be all day. You haven’t checked your email yet or jumped into social media. If you hurry to the gym, you can take full advantage of the natural motivation wave that hits you first thing in the morning, and if you ride it carefully, you can surf those feelings of optimism and maintain your energy until noon or 1 p.m.

In anticipation of this wave, stack your hardest work between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.—all of the calls you don’t want to make, the tedious emails you don’t want to answer, the boring work you have to plow through. You need to do them at your peak state.

Related: 4 Reasons You Get Nothing Done After 2 p.m.

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