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It’s crunch time: you have a deadline to meet. Time is against you but, worse than that, your motivation levels are at an all-time low. Work? You’d much rather be on a beach somewhere… Snap out of it! These are my favorite fast motivators: the tricks […]

It’s crunch time: you have a deadline to meet. Time is against you but, worse than that, your motivation levels are at an all-time low. Work? You’d much rather be on a beach somewhere…

Snap out of it! These are my favorite fast motivators: the tricks I use to get myself going when the going gets tough. Mix them up, combine a couple … and share your own speedy motivators in the comments.

1. Star jumps

Seriously! When my motivation troughs, I’m usually slumped over my desk, chin in hand, eyes glazed.

You might choose to take a short run, do some push-ups, or use the skipping rope — it doesn’t matter. What’s important is that you get up, get the blood circulating and start focusing. A short bust of exercise — 30 star-jumps usually does the trick for me — is enough to kick-start my brain and get my head clear again.

2. Music

We know that music changes the way we feel, so why not use your favorite artists to boost your mood and motivation levels? Whether it’s Schumann or the Sex Pistols, there’s bound to be some music that motivates you.

If you can’t work to music, have a five-minute break to listen to a couple of tunes that really inspire you. If you can, crank it up and get cracking!

3. Change your location

If you’re finding it hard to concentrate in your home office, you might benefit by stepping out to the local library or cafe. But just making the move from your everyday desk to the kitchen table might help you get a fresh perspective and the focus you need (provided the kitchen isn’t crammed with family and friends).

A change in location changes your surroundings and outlook. For some, working in public provides a sense of involvement — or the sense of being watched — that remote work can lack. Knowing that someone (even if it’s just the waiter!) can see what you’re doing may well motivate you to get something done.

4. Disconnect

You know it, I know it — the web can be a distracting place. Close your browser, or, if you need to work online, shut down all your nonessential applications, including chat and email.

Don’t just change your IM status: shut it down. Clear your desktops — virtual and physical — of everything but the essentials you need to complete the task at hand. This kind of brief, self-imposed psychological isolation usually helps me refresh my focus and my drive.

5. Time yourself

Choose a small task, or a portion of a task, and give yourself a certain timeframe in which to do it. Ideally, the task shouldn’t take longer than 30 minutes; the shorter, the better (though admittedly five minutes might be a bit of a challenge!). Set an alarm for the end of that time period: when the alarm goes off, you need to have met the mini-goal you’ve set yourself.

The technique is a great way to slingshot yourself from a low ebb to high-impact productivity. Obviously, it’s not ideal for larger tasks, but if you can find something small — and easy win — as a motivating task for a given timeframe, this approach can be really handy.

These are my favorite five minute motivators. What about you? How do you boost your motivation and focus at crunch time?

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  2. personnaly, in such a case, i like to use the pomodoro technique but with a timer higher than 25min, i shut off twitter, gtalk, gmail, google reader and give my cellphone to someone, then i start coding and when the timer ring, i take 5min and so on. I have found that this allow me to focus only on my code and during the short break, on all the other things.

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  3. [...] procrastination with these tips to motivate yourself from Web Worker [...]

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