motivation2Need extra motivation to start or continue a project–for instance, writing a novel, studying for an exam or building the world’s biggest Lego spaceship?

Me, I’m a project addict. I’ve always got a gazillion tasks and goals going–usually simultaneously. So, over the years, I’ve discovered a bunch of easy motivation strategies that help keep me moving forward on all my projects based on each menstrual cycle week I’m currently in. These easy techniques take advantage of how hormones impact mood, envy and a desire for fun. And, they might just work for you, too.

Here’s how to boost your motivation depending on which week you’re on in your monthly cycle:

Week 1: Intersperse work with fun
Day 1 (first day of period) to Day 7
Rising estrogen during your Week 1 is urging you to push work aside for fun–so use this hormonal effect to your advantage: Promise yourself that for every X amount of work you do (for instance, for every five pages you write or chapter you read), you can take a five-minute break to do a little online shopping, watch a funny video on YouTube or do something else that’s quick and entertaining. And, good news–research shows that taking little breaks actually helps boost concentration by giving your brain a rest. Tip: Set a timer! It’s easy to get sucked into doing more fun than work, so a little reminder to return to your task is helpful.

Week 2: Think of someone you’re envious of
Day 8 to Day 14 (or ovulation day in your cycle)
In Week 2, high estrogen and testosterone are making you more competitive than during any other week of your cycle. So, when you’re tempted to skip out on tasks you should be doing, imagine someone who’s done better than you on the same type of task (for instance, a fellow student who’s getting better grades in your class). Is the task you’ve got to do reeeallly boring? Try focusing on a favorite fun project you could accomplish better than a competitor (say, editing a photo to enter into a competition) if only you got this other dull task that needs to be done out of the way. Your desire to beat someone else in the fun project will help you keep your nose to the grindstone till you’ve completed the tedious one.

Week 3: Dangle a cupcake from a stick
Begins day after ovulation and lasts 8 days (which is Day 14 to Day 22 in a 28-day cycle)
Rising progesterone is triggering cravings for all sorts of comfort foods. So, instead of indulging your cravings willy-nilly throughout the day, promise yourself your favorite treat once you get a certain amount of work completed. If you’re watching your weight or health, simply stick to delicious healthy snacks you love, such as low-fat yogurt, cottage cheese with fruit or granola bars. If food is an issue for you, then promise yourself a different type of comforting treat since progesterone has you enjoying comforts of all sorts, such as a deep hair conditioning treatment or relaxing foot bath.

Week 4: Make plans to pamper yourself
Final 6 days of your cycle
During your premenstrual Week 4, estrogen plunges, taking your mood and self-confidence with it by dragging down levels of feel-good chemicals in the brain. The good news: Indulging in a little pampering during this week of your cycle is encouraged because it temporarily boosts those flagging levels of mood-managing brain chemicals back up, making you happier and more self-assured. So, use this information to both rev your joy and propel yourself forward in a task by promising yourself a special pampering indulgence for every X amount of work you do, for example, treating yourself to a mani/pedi after editing a report or splurging on a specialty tea or coffee after studying for two hours.

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[Photo: Amy]

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