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Before I engage in time management coaching, I require new clients to take a productivity assessment to paint their big picture strengths and challenges. Inspired by a Chicago client and a fellow productivity trainer’s book, I’m going to add assessing drive.

When you have drive, you’re likely…

  • to be motivated to work
  • problem solve with vigor, and
  • get things done quickly without delay

And when you don’t have drive, you’re likely…

  • to have lots of unfinished projects
  • to feel tired throughout the day, and
  • to procrastinate (at a near-professional level)

Uncovering what motivates you so you get your mojo back may be easier than you think. To rejuvenate your drive, pick a project you seem to be avoiding and ask yourself these ten downloadable questions:

questions to get motivated

Most times you’ll not only experience more motivation and drive, but you might feel more playful about your work because of the visual thinking process these questions prescribe.

If you’re not juiced by the end of the exercise, then you should probably turn down or re-assign the project to someone who can get excited about it.

What techniques do you use to regain your drive?

P.S. Thanks to my client for generously creating and sharing his 5-minute juice mind map.  

Following is a quick video to support the information above and provide further suggestions for regaining your drive. 








Last week at the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) conference I thanked industry legend, Barbara HemphillTaming the Paper Tiger at Work author, for writing the statement: Clutter is postponed decisions.

Simple, yet profound, this phrase is one I almost always include in my productivity training sessions. 


When you thoughtfully examine the items cluttering your desk and office, I suspect you’ll arrive in agreement with the sentiment–many items represent a postponed decision or action.

So why not make today the day you start changing your procrastination habit? Following are two questions to ask to make that happen:

What can I do in the next 15 to 20 minutes to move this forward? From The Now Habit author, Dr. Neil Fiore, this question propels many into action. No need to wait until you have enough time to complete the project. Do something now to prime the pump and maintain a forward motion.

By the end of the day, what do I want to accomplish in order to feel good about it? If you can make a habit of asking yourself this question, you’ll make a habit of getting the critical stuff done. Use this daily empowerment form to capture your ideas in the morning…and to confirm they’re getting checked off in the afternoon.

What questions do you use to prevent procrastination?

 Eat Frogs for Breakfast

We all struggle with prioritization from time to time. But if we’re honest with ourselves, we already know what’s more important and what needs to get finished today. We know what we need to do in order to meet our deadlines. And when we’re engaged in reaching our goals, we know what needs to be done next to push them along. We’re just not slowing down enough to listen.

If you want to consistently spend time in a committed and purposeful manner, consider adopting this new daily habit:

At the end of each day, review your tasks to make a plan for the next working day. Pick three-a frog, a dream and a wild card.

Start by identifying the biggest, most important task you need to complete-the frog. (There’s an old adage, if you have to eat a frog, don’t spend a lot of time looking at it first. And if you have to eat two of them, start with the ugliest.) Maybe it’s strategic work that requires focused think time, or perhaps it’s something you have a burning desire to procrastinate for untold emotional reasons. No matter, eating your largest, ugliest frog first will give you the boost to help the rest of the day seem lighter.

Next, pick a dream. The daily grind is rich with externally-driven tasks and rarely prompts you to insert assignments related to your personal, inwardly-driven goals. To move yourself toward your ambitions, consciously include taking one step toward your dreams. You’ll see, over time they will develop into reality.

Lastly, select one critical task of your choice-the wild card.

Put the three items you picked on top of your to do list. Will you accomplish more than three things the following day? Maybe, but no matter what else happens, you’ll focus on the three most important things first. (And you’ll sleep easier knowing what’s ahead of you the next day.)

It’s going to be tough, but stick to the plan you outlined. Eat the frog. Reach for the dream. But do not initiate other tasks before completing the three you selected. One easy way to make this practice a reality: don’t check your email until you’ve eaten the frog, legs and all.

Resolving to new habits before the start of a year is a ritual for most, and repeating a resolution year after year is the way of life for many.

So how do you go from pledging you’re going to do something to actually doing it? And how do you maintain the change over time?

Robert Fritz’s book, The Path of Least Resistance, describes how “the structures in some people’s lives lead to oscillation…moving forward and then backward, and then forward and then backward again…their attempts to change their life may work at first, and then not work, and then work again and then not work again.” He explains, “these people experience change, but it does not last.”

 reactive-responsive orientation He calls this the reactive-responsive orientation, an oscillating course characterized by reacting & responding to circumstances & external conditions.
 creative orientation He also presents a radically different life orientation embodying hope for lasting change: the creative orientation, a revolving state of being characterized by each person being the predominant creative power in their life.

One of the essential differences he describes between the orientations is something we hold true at Life Contained: change is initiated by changing the contents of your brain, not by attempting to change conditions outside yourself without also altering how you think.

Layer on another Fritz pronouncement, “what you choose to change does not depend on what you think is possible,” and you’ve got yourself powerful concepts for durable change.

Make a decision today to change how you think about being focused in the workplace, and then start changing how you work. Resolve to revolve.

Happy New Year!

Do you read and respond to emails as soon as they hit your inbox…especially when you’re drafting a letter you don’t want to write? Perhaps you get up to get a glass of water to avoid going through the week’s mail. Do you think about what outfit we’re going to wear Saturday instead of starting a load of laundry?

Guess what? You’re just like everybody else: you procrastinate. But you can set yourself apart by discovering your procrastination tells.

Like poker tells, most people have habits, behaviors or physical reactions which predict when they’re about to procrastinate. If you can figure out what your signals are, then with thoughtful determination you can minimize your productivity intermissions.


Procrastination typically presents itself in the following varieties. 1. Events that come to you: the phone rings, an email pops in your inbox, someone knocks on your door. 2. Events with outside objects that you create: you get up to get a snack, to find “the best” frying pan you follow a chain of websites until you can’t see straight. 3. Internal events: you daydream, you think about trying to remember to pick up toilet paper on your way home.


After you’ve uncovered your tells, try to change your environment or your routines to lessen the distractions. For example, decide to not answer any outside callers during particular hours of the day. Remind yourself to get back to work when you find yourself thinking about candy bars. Set the timer for 15 minutes and consider the task complete when the buzzer sounds. Carry a notebook to collect extraneous to dos so you can safely tell your brain to focus on what you’re supposed to be doing.

You’ll be amazed at how you can convert your procrastination habit into one of productivity.

This animation was created by the cartoonist Lev Yilmaz. We think it addresses the procrastinator in all of us. Now that you’ve have a good laugh, it’s BACK TO WORK!

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