UPGRADE series: How to switch your brain

You have a 9 to 5 and you’ve been trying to get a project going on the side. You’re super motivated but most days, it just doesn’t work. You’re not progressing, or what you are producing is, let’s face it… crap. Why oh why? Well, let me tell you a little secret…. You need to learn how to switch your brain!

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Everybody, including me, tells you to start a project / business on the side of your 9 to 5. Why? Because it can be fun, rewarding and help you become financially independent. Even if it doesn’t become a money-making machine, such project should be something you’ve always wanted to do. Something you are passionate about, something you truly like, so it is worth spending time on it.

Yet, when you get home, you’re just plain exhausted and no matter how much you try to motivate yourself, you’re not making any progress. It becomes highly frustrating and you are ready to give up.


Don’t give up! You need to know that it’s not your fault and there are simple things you can do to change that.

It’s not your fault… It’s because of your brain! 

No neuroscience here. Just plain common sense.

Let’s take some examples and see how starting a personal project usually looks like:

  • You probably have a 9 to 5 job to pay the bills and after working all day, you come home tired if not exhausted.
  • Maybe your job isn’t really exhausting but you come home and laundry is piled up, the garbage has to be taken out, diner isn’t ready, new bills have arrived which needs to be handled, you have to plan a week-end to go see your in-laws… There are a million little things that needs to be done…
  • Or maybe you are a stay at home mom and you are taking care of your babies & your house all day.


But all this shouldn’t matter, you are super motivated and you waited all day to be able to work on your personal project so it should be easy enough, shouldn’t it? But it turns out to be hard, just plain hard.


Because your brain is wired on the million issues you’ve been dealing with all day.

These issues can be work related, they can be because of your work colleagues, your mom, kids, husband or wife… these can be financial issues, health issues, planning issues… It really doesn’t matter what these are, your brain is wired to these things and before you could possibly start on your personal projet efficiently, you need to switch your brain.


What do I mean by switching your brain? 

Good question!

I mean switching from a ‘corporate’ state of mind to an ‘artistic’ set of mind. Or a ‘mummy’ set of mind to an ‘entrepreneur’ set of mind. Anything which seems fairly opposite and requires to put on a different hat.

Switching your brain is about moving your thoughts away from your 9 to 5 activities & worries, to focusing on what is required for your personal project. And you already know it’s not that easy.

  •  If you are you dealing with numbers & accounting stuff all day and you get home to start painting rainbows and unicorns… you know it isn’t always working.
  • If you’re a waitress and have had rude customers all day and come home to blog happily about knitting…  you know it is hard to sound happy.
  • Or maybe you’ve been changing diapers all day, and wish to write the next Fifty Shades of Grey at night… you know it is hard to feel sexy with the smell of your baby’s poop lingering on your shirt.

What you need (apart from a shower for the last example) is to switch your brain to put on your creative hat.


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What you need is to learn to switch your brain… 

Switching your brain from a ‘corporate’ state to an ‘creative’ state is much easier said than done. But there are things you can do and tricks you can apply that make it easier and easier.

When you come home from your day work, don’t try to jump into your creative mode right away.

Take a break first

Have dinner, exercise, clean something! 😉 What ever works for you is fine. The goal here is to stop  thinking about your worries of the day and put them behind.

If needed consider other means like meditation, yoga or doodling.

Set a specific time duration for such break and focus on being present for which ever activity you chose. And breath!!


To be clear, there are things you shouldn’t do and these include:

  • Watching the news
  • Watching tv of any kind really!
  • Binging on cat memes. I know, I know…
  • Slouching on your sofa
  • Drinking


Next you should be able to redirect your thoughts

Once you’ve emptied your mind, redirecting your thoughts to the task ahead will be much easier.

Before starting anything, remind yourself why this personal project is important to you, why you want to do it and what your end goals are. To help, you could create a one page mission statement that you can post in front of your work space and read before starting the task ahead.

Your mission statement shouldn’t be putting unnecessary pressure on yourself. It should be motivational and help you focus.


Plan your time but be flexible

Firstly, it may be unrealistic to plan working on your personal project 4 hours a day, everyday. Not only will it take a toll on your couple, your social life, your sanity… but it might become a burden on your motivation. Be realistic, set specific times, be efficient & consistent are far more useful.

Secondly, plan ahead what you will be doing and, as usual, set S.M.A.R.T. goals.

But remain flexible…

Sometimes no matter how much you try working on something specific, it just doesn’t work so have a backup list of things that should be done. Maybe today you can’t paint, but you can take pictures of the paintings that are ready and post them on your site. Maybe today you just can’t handle replying to your customers, so instead, review your SEO and update your blog…



Have a dedicated space

Create an optimal environment for your personal project, this will most likely help you.

If you are a painter, jewelry maker or are into any other sort of art craft, have a room or corner which is dedicated to your project. This will also help you be more efficient. Working from the kitchen table means that every time you want to work on your project you have to set up your things and remove them afterward. It’s not just a daunting task, it’s also a time waster.

If your project is solely online,  create a nice environment as well. Set your desk with items and decoration related to your topic for example.

Your dedicated space should be practical but most importantly help you relax & focus.


Put on the ‘Not to be disturbed sign’

Once you have managed to switch your brain, you need to stay focused. If needed shut the door, ask your family to respect your time, turn off your phone, close anything that can become a distraction.

If you are planning your time well, it shouldn’t be a real problem. Kids might be in bed or doing homework, your partner might be watching his/ her favorite TV show, and you have already spoken to your mom today…so all is well!


And 2 final tips:

Accept that you may not be productive all the time

You thought you could finish this painting or the chapter of your new book in one hour, but 2 hours later, you are still struggling with it.

Let it go

You must accept that you can’t always be productive. If you still have some spare time in your schedule, do something else. Something different.

And plan to finish your master piece another day.

Accepting that not everyday are going to be ground breaking days for your project is totally fine and healthy.


Practice switching your brain! 

Switching your brain works or doesn’t work, both ways. When your ‘creative’ brain is wired on, it’s super hard to handle other mundane things. And once your personal project take on, you will be wired to it, more often than you may realize.

Practice switching your brain both ways, so you can still enjoy the rest of your life and you don’t alienate people around you!!



Switching your brain from a ‘corporate’ mindset to ‘creative’ mindset and vice versa isn’t easy. Far from it.
It doesn’t matter how motivated you are, it doesn’t matter if you are passionate about your project. It’s just hard. This is why I wanted to share with you some tips on how to switch your brain, focus on your project and remain focused!



Now it’s your turn. Tell me where you struggle when it comes to working on your personal project and what your tips are on switching your brain? 



This article is part of my UPGRADE Series. Click below to learn more:

Eventually I will get to the point where I explain why Brainy and Papa Smurf are here, but you will have to be patient!!



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