6 Life-Changing Tools I Use to Motivate Myself

A.k.a. tools for self-motivation. Brace yourself, this is gonna be a long read.

Some of you guys that know me a bit better also know that I’m not very out-going, and while the primary reason for that is my location, it’s also the fact that I choose my company carefully. But that’s a story for another blog.

Just kidding, I would never use a MacBook.
The point I’m making is that there’s really no one that could motivate me directly. So I need to motivate myself.

Many of you dear readers are also in a similar boat. My hope with this post is that at least one of these tools will be able to inspire you to try using it yourself, and newsflash, ALL OF THEM ARE COMPLETELY FREE. All they require to work properly is your willingness to make them work. So, without further ado…

1. > Habit-Tracking Spreadsheet.

Let’s call it HTS for short. (it’s also the only tool here that I’ve thought of myself)

So what is a HTS? It’s basically an Excel* spreadsheet that you use to track your habits. Duh.

How does it work?

It should work by making you feel guilty for seeing so many of your daily goals (that you’re trying to make into habits) not completed yet, and that will, in turn, power you to complete them.

How do I set it up? Basically, you open up a new spreadsheet in your program of choice (for me it’s Google Sheets because it’s cloud-based so I can easily check it anywhere) and then you start filling THE FIRST COLUMN with habits you want to include into your daily routine.

Seems like I forgot to eat apples or study After Effects this month. Luckily I started meditating and reading more!

Choose as many or as few as you would like. Personally, I have 13 and that’s not particularly good, because there will never be a day where I’d possibly be able to check ALL of them.

So, for higher sense of accomplishment, choose a lower number of habits. But if you truly want to change your life from the root, do include more.

If you’re tired of scrolling to the right for eternity, just paste downwards for every new month. Above is my HTS for May, and below is the one for June.

Now, I’ll assume you have some basic knowledge of how Excel and similar spreadsheet programs work, so I’ll just tell you to freeze the 1st column (the one with habits) so that you’d be able to scroll to the right easily and still know which row is for which habit.

After that, in the first rows, add a short date (and the weekday above it, optionally) for every column so you know on which day you managed to accomplish which habit.

An easy way to get the weekday number is to input this formula, and for Sunday instead of subtracting 1, you add 6. The date you just type in yourself, and move it with a black cross to the right to get the following dates. You should know this if you have basic knowledge of Excel.
Now, find some nice shades of red, yellow, and green, and start marking.

A valuable tip: As of my knowledge, Excel doesn’t know how to count cells of a specific colour (yet), so for tracking how many days you were able to accomplish a single habit, in every cell, in addition to colouring it, also add numbers: 2 for green, 1 for yellow, and 0 for red. So for example, the formula for counting accomplished days would be =COUNTIF(your_cell_range ; ”=2"). This really shouldn’t be an Excel tutorial so let’s just move on to the second tool.

2. > Goal-Tracking Spreadsheet.

GTS for short. No, it’s not a new 911 Porsche.

So what is a GTS? It’s a spreadsheet where you track your goals, obviously.

How does it work? Ideally, you should make a new one every month, but I’ve seen that it’s not always the best thing to do. But you should check into it every so often, just to re-assure yourself in what you need to strive forward.

Looks like I still need to strive forward A LOT MORE. Also I really need to make a new GTS, this one is over 3 months old already.

How do I set it up? Again, you open up a new spreadsheet. You can also do this on paper, but I’ve found that colour-coding and being able to edit without crossing over stuff or using a pencil eraser are valuable advantages.

The original GTS that I’ve come across had 3 columns instead of four and did not have a 4th colour for goals that you’re not interested in pursuing anymore. You can omit them as well, but you will most likely need them later.

You can also change the time period for columns (e.g. put “SHORT TERM” as 14 days instead of 30, if you prefer to roll like a productivity machine), so just use my own GTS as a reference. This tool is a bit more subjective than HTS, so let your imagination go wild!

It’s all good as long as you’re achieving the goals you set out for yourself.

3. > MyFitnessPal.

FYI this is NOT a sponsored post. I just really like the app and thought it might be useful for you too.

So what is MyFitnessPal and how does it work? It’s a mobile app that you can use to track what you eat and in turn, gradually lose weight.

Because losing weight is simply taking in less calories than how many you’re spending.
Yeah, I still have my phone set on German.

How do I set it up? You just download it from your phone’s App Store, install it, and begin tracking your food intake. The app itself has a lot of tutorials in it, so I won’t be going into much detail here.

But I do highly recommend that you have a food scale near you because most food values will NOT be expressed in pieces, but rather in grams, kilograms, ounces and such.

After a while you’ll start to become better at approximating the mass of the food you ate so you can then gradually stop using the scale.

This tool, along with intermittent fasting, is what helped cut my belly fat in half. (not that I had much of it to begin with, but it was still like 1–2kg in 1 month, WITHOUT changing what I eat, just eating less and at a more strict schedule)

See that bar-code icon in the top-right? Just click it and it’ll take you to a camera you can point to a bar-code and get an instant overview.

A very important plus that I didn’t mention yet is that MyFitnessPal has an ENORMOUS worldwide database of products, so you’re not stuck with American products only. All you have to do is scan the bar-code of the food.

Or if the food doesn’t have a bar-code a.k.a. it’s homemade, just look up the food’s name in your own language.

I won’t talk about this app anymore because there’s quite a lot of detail.

Short story, if you are someone who cares about their health and well-being, give it a go.

Moving onto the next tool.

4. > Prints of Dale Cargenie’s Principles.

Taken from the best book I have ever read, How To Win Friends And Influence People. Again, no affiliate links or anything, just thought you would genuinely benefit from this.

So what are these Principles? In this book, Mr. Cargenie explained a few dozen principles he’s learned throughout his 66-year old life. Even though the first rendition of the book has been published way back in 1936, most of this info still applies today, because it focuses on the internal psychology of human beings, and all the technology and progress we’ve since managed to invent did not change that.

I’m planning to hang them on a wall, but for now they’re lying on my PC desk.

How do they work? Well, for the full effect, I suggest you read the actual book. The principles are explained through dozens of real-life examples and anecdotes, and after reading, you will easily start to notice them in your own life too.

You’ll also begin to find ways to implement those principles so you’ll gain an edge in human-to-human relationships (especially if you weren’t really sociable in the first place!)

I also suggest that after reading, you too print them out (or you can even write them down) and hang the paper(s) somewhere you spend the most time, whether it’s your office, your room, or someplace else. That way they’ll be easier to remember and implement because you’ll be looking at them all the time. You can even make them your phone’s wallpaper!

5. > Toggl.

(Edit: I actually did not have this included in the first version of the post simply because I forgot about it, so here it is now.)

So what is Toggl? If you’re familiar with Toggl, you know that it’s mostly used by employees to track their hourly rates. Well, I’m using it a bit differently.

I’m tracking the time it takes me to write this very blog, too.

How does it work? I got this idea from someone at a Facebook group I often perused at that time. Basically, instead of your projects being work-related, you group them up by stuff you do the most.

After a month, you’ll start to see cool graphics pop up (see screenshots below) which will show you visually how you spent your time. WARNING: This only works if you’re constantly tracking time, whether you’re eating, working, enjoying the beautiful nature, or having your own nature call.

By the way, you can further describe what it is you’re doing by using descriptions. And yeah, they’re also searchable in the “Reports” tab!

Seems like I really kicked my blogging game up this month.
Here’s all the stuff I did this week. It gets even more detailed when you click the “+” icon next to each “project”.

How do I set it up? Just go to Toggl’s website and make a free account. You do not need to pay anything, and it will help you tremendously when you realize you just wasted 2 hours on Facebook, trust me.

6. > Google Keep.

I saved the best for last.

This tool is honestly the most important one here.

What is Google Keep? It’s a simple notes-based app which helps you remember stuff. For some people the tool that replaces Keep is Evernote, and for others it’s a good ol’ pen-and-paper notebook.

However, my reasons for choosing Keep are again, cloud-based portability, and ease of use.

How does it work? I can write a simple reminder, whether it is for a new project, or a shopping list, or an actual reminder for something I have scheduled. Keep does it all.

There it is on the right, the idea for this very blog. Some of the best ideas and projects I’ve ever done were born here. Of course, I had to blur out some of those ideas.

How do I set it up? First off, you need a Google account. Then you simply download the Keep app from your phone’s App Store and you’re good to go! This tool is both the simplest to implement and the most important, because I can take out my phone half-asleep and write down an idea I have.

Conclusion.

I hope this article has helped to inspire you to be more productive and motivated. A question for you: what tools do YOU use to stay motivated? Let me know in the comments below!

I should mention that over half of these tools I’ve only managed to implement in 2017. This year has been an on-going effort on my side to radically change for the better. I will be posting more on Medium regarding this journey. If you want to follow me, be sure to check out my Facebook profile or Facebook page because there’s most activity on there. If you’re interested in checking out my design stuff, I have a Dribbble and a Behance account as well. Thank you for reading!


* I’m using “Excel” when I want to say “a spreadsheet program”. The simple reason for that is to make this post an easier read for most people. I’m aware that it’s not the only program which can do this type of job, but it is the most popular one. No offense to you spreadsheet enthusiasts.