Ariana, a Hormonology newsletter subscriber, asks: “As a student, I notice there are some weeks where I can study for hours at a time and then others where I can’t even open a book! I was wondering if you know of any techniques that will get you studying during the various weeks?”
My advice: Whether you’re studying for exams or working on a project, I’m going to recommend motivation strategies that work for me based on the “personality” of each week of a woman’s monthly cycle. They might just work for you, too:
Week 1: Intersperse work with fun!
Day 1 (first day of period) to Day 7
Rising estrogen is urging you to push work aside for fun–so use it to your advantage: Promise yourself that for every X amount of work you do (for instance, for every chapter you read or five pages you write), you can take a 5-minute break to do a little online shopping, watch a funny video on YouTube or do something else that’s quick and fun. 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 13
In Week 2, high testosterone is 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). Or think of some other project you could be doing better than a competitor if only you got this other work done and out of the way! Your desire to beat them will help you keep your nose to the grindstone till you’ve completed your task.
Week 3: Dangle a cupcake from a stick!
Day 14 (or ovulation) to Day 22
Rising progesterone is triggering cravings for all sorts of comfort foods. So, instead of indulging 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 have health issues, simply stick to delicious healthy snacks that you love, such as low-fat yogurt or granola bars.
Week 4: Make plans to pamper yourself!
Day 23 to the end of cycle
During your premenstrual Week 4, estrogen plunges, making your mood and self-confidence to go south with it. The good news: Indulging in a little pampering during this week of your cycle is encouraged because it makes you feel happier and more self-assured. So, for every X amount of work you do, plan to do something pleasant for yourself, such as giving yourself a pedicure, putting on deliciously-scented lotion, doing self-massage or brewing a cup of your favorite tea.