Motivating oneself to actually start (and finish) work?

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pisshawk
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Motivating oneself to actually start (and finish) work?

Postby pisshawk » Sun Nov 23, 2008 5:18 am UTC

Hello, all!

I'm in the third year of a bachelor's degree in Computing Science, and have run into a serious issue regarding procrastination/laziness/lethargy/whatever. Basically, I have 3 weeks or less to complete 3 sizable projects, and am starting to panic. It sounds stupid, but every time I resolve to actually start some work, I end up doing nothing, thus inciting more panic. Obviously the simple solution to this is just to have more self-control and do the work, but as I'm sure some of you know, the human mind doesn't always work like that.

So, do any of you know any incredible secrets or effective motivational strategies that might help get my brain in gear? Obvioulsy I'm looking for some novel responses instead of just the obvious "do your work or you'll fail" lines. I know this situation might appear nonsensical to some, but procrastination is a serious problem. Help!

Many thanks.

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Lenary
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Re: Motivating oneself to actually start (and finish) work?

Postby Lenary » Tue Nov 25, 2008 8:21 pm UTC

idea 1: seinfeild calendar, but by hours. every time you do something that's for the project in an hour, you get a check in the box, try not to break the chain
idea 2: get off the forum and back to work. actually, in all seriousness, i find that disconnecting from the internet helps. if i have to research stuff, then there goes my focus.
idea 3: keep calm and carry on (with the work that is)
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Wolf
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Re: Motivating oneself to actually start (and finish) work?

Postby Wolf » Tue Nov 25, 2008 10:02 pm UTC

I'm on a mac, so I use this lovely program called Freedom.

It disables my wireless and my networking card. Meaning that all I can do is focus. Or at least not get distracted rereading the entire archive of Questionable Content.

There's no windows port (yet), but if you just turn off your wireless card or physically disconnect your ethernet (instead of just closing your browser), you could achieve similar results. It won't lock you out until your time is up or you restart like Freedom does, but it still makes you take an extra step to get back on the internet, which often causes you to go "Oh, I shouldn't do that" and get back to work.

The downside to Freedom is that it made me realize how freakin' often I check my e-mail. But that's just me being crazy, I guess.
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Re: Motivating oneself to actually start (and finish) work?

Postby i_ll_winn » Thu Nov 27, 2008 3:38 pm UTC

I actually have someone slap me if I have something important that I didn't do, it helps a lot, just remeber to make sure it is someone you can trust to slap you hard.
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Re: Motivating oneself to actually start (and finish) work?

Postby Themata » Fri Nov 28, 2008 10:07 am UTC

Spoilered for weirdness and possible nsfw.

Spoiler:
Not speaking from personal experience but I had a friend who informed me of a strategy which worked for him. He would study for an hour and then have a bat (masturbate) this would train his body to study because of the possibility of a reward afterwards. Really it was an awkward conversation.

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Re: Motivating oneself to actually start (and finish) work?

Postby zombie_monkey » Fri Nov 28, 2008 10:13 am UTC

This can be a very serious problem if you let it become a habit. Sadly, I have no really helpful advice.

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Re: Motivating oneself to actually start (and finish) work?

Postby oohal » Fri Nov 28, 2008 11:26 am UTC

In my experience getting things done is simply a matter of inertia, so long as you start you'll finish (sooner or later). The only real advice I can offer is to go to bed thinking about the project/paper/gender change operation you need finished. When you wake up it'll be the first thing on your mind so get started before something (or someone) distracts you.

EDIT: oh yeah, the internet == distraction waiting to happen, avoid it like the plague.

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Re: Motivating oneself to actually start (and finish) work?

Postby Snowdream » Fri Nov 28, 2008 10:41 pm UTC

pisshawk wrote:Hello, all!

I'm in the third year of a bachelor's degree in Computing Science, and have run into a serious issue regarding procrastination/laziness/lethargy/whatever. Basically, I have 3 weeks or less to complete 3 sizable projects, and am starting to panic. It sounds stupid, but every time I resolve to actually start some work, I end up doing nothing, thus inciting more panic. Obviously the simple solution to this is just to have more self-control and do the work, but as I'm sure some of you know, the human mind doesn't always work like that.

So, do any of you know any incredible secrets or effective motivational strategies that might help get my brain in gear? Obvioulsy I'm looking for some novel responses instead of just the obvious "do your work or you'll fail" lines. I know this situation might appear nonsensical to some, but procrastination is a serious problem. Help!

Many thanks.


Small bites work best for procrastinators. Starting early also helps, even very tiny bites very early on will help later when crunch time comes.

I personally would make sure I had the introduction paragraph done on most of my essay's before I left them to sit for god knows how long... so I knew at least where I was going.

If this fails, strap a bomb to your chest, and have your teacher hold the trigger. Explain that if you do not hand in the report, ask him/her to hit the button (don't tell them what it will do!)

The downside, they may get curious and hit it before you even start.
The upside; do it or die!
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Re: Motivating oneself to actually start (and finish) work?

Postby rubber314chicken » Mon Dec 01, 2008 2:35 am UTC

I use a combination of listening to an album and trying to finish before the album is over, and the reward (only not with masturbation) method. Like I wanna get my homework done no so I can hang out with some friends tonight.
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Re: Motivating oneself to actually start (and finish) work?

Postby Angua » Mon Dec 01, 2008 12:35 pm UTC

I would listen to music while you're doing the work, I find that it helps to stop me getting bored. Under no circumstances start any good books until you're done. Disconnecting from the internet is also a good idea.
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Re: Motivating oneself to actually start (and finish) work?

Postby Pit » Mon Dec 01, 2008 4:23 pm UTC

The problem with music is that when you listen to a song you like, you end up singing the lyrics of the song in your head instead of actually doing your work.

I usually set computer alarms while I work, so that I'm reminded to work while I'm working. Sometimes, it's annoying cause I'll be in the middle of work, and it'll be disruptive. But if it's a particularly annoying project/essay, and my mind wanders, it's a really good wake up call.

Alternatively, I get friends to also call me up while I'm working to make sure that I'm working.
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Re: Motivating oneself to actually start (and finish) work?

Postby Kow » Mon Dec 01, 2008 7:48 pm UTC

Pit wrote:The problem with music is that when you listen to a song you like, you end up singing the lyrics of the song in your head instead of actually doing your work.


That's why non-lyrical music is good, be it techno/trance or classical. I highly recommend Explosions in the Sky. Great instrumental band for getting work done.
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Re: Motivating oneself to actually start (and finish) work?

Postby 0range » Mon Dec 01, 2008 7:54 pm UTC

oohal wrote:In my experience getting things done is simply a matter of inertia, so long as you start you'll finish (sooner or later). The only real advice I can offer is to go to bed thinking about the project/paper/gender change operation you need finished. When you wake up it'll be the first thing on your mind so get started before something (or someone) distracts you.


There is great wisdom in this post.

However, I find that it's not enough to just think about whatever it is you want to motivate to do, you need to visualize. So, if you need to write a paper, don't sit there and think about the topic, or things you'd like to say, research you need to do, etc... instead, visualize yourself doing the necessary steps in the first person and in close to real time as possible.

Usually one of two things will happen, either you will have an irresistible urge to go do whatever it is you're visualizing, or visualizing it will be so agonizingly dull that you'll do anything to escape doing it (including actually doing the task).

I have spoilered part of an article on the subject, it is specific to piano practice, but it is universally applicable.

Spoiler:
Consider that the human body/mind has these three functions (there are more, but these three are the ones that interest us for the moment being): emotional, intellectual and motional.

The emotional function works on the basis of: I like it I hate it. There is no argument or explanation, just a feeling of attraction or of repulsion. It is very quick to react to various stimuli. Emotional responses (like/dislike) are almost immediate.

The intellectual function works on the basis of comparisons. It takes a long time for all that comparing to take place. It also has nothing to do with likes or dislikes. If you are in intellectual mode you may do something you dislike deeply (e.g. washing the dishes) because you have reasoned yourself into it. But you will be resentful and unhappy about it. And eventually you will stop doing it.

The motional function has to do with your movements and with the five (+) senses: your sensual perception. The motional function is amazingly fast: much faster than the emotional, which is itself much faster than the intellectual. Piano playing at the physical level is done purely with the motional function. If – as you play – you start “thinking” – that is using your intellectual function – about what you are doing it will all fall apart. Also, the only way to learn motional tasks is by imitation. You cannot use an intellectual approach (making comparisons and analysis). Try to learn how to dance by telling yourself to step this way, turn to the left, turn to the right and so on and so forth. It will not work. Instead find the best dancer in the hall and imitate what s/he is doing. You have to be in a certain state of mindlessness to do that: all your attention must be directed outwards. If you are not used to it, you will find it really hard to concentrate on pure imitation. Chances are you will slip into intellectual mode and flop it.

The emotional function does not learn. It just likes or dislikes. It is pretty much useless in genera land is always causing trouble. However it does have a very important function to fulfil: It is the emotional that will make you do anything. You can sit down and reason to yourself all night why you should practise everyday (intellectual function). You can even sit down at the piano and go through the movements of practice (motional function). But unless you come to like practice , that is unless you succeed in engaging your emotional function in a positive way, you will not practice. It is as simple as that.

So all this long preamble to explain this obvious fact: quick progress is a result of deeply enjoying what you are doing. In other words, if you succeed in engaging the emotional function, the student will go through heel and fire to follow your instructions. And all the pedagogy in the whole world will not change this simple, but mostly ignored fact. Your teaching system can be very logical (intellectually well reasoned), it can be incredibly efficient and correct technically (motionally appropriate), but if the student dislike it intensely that is it.

Now to make the above relevant to your question:

It is only by engaging the emotional function (like/dislike) that you will be able to go through with nay activity/plan. In short, laziness is always the result of emotional detachment/indifference. No amount of intellectual reasoning will see you through a piece unless you can engage your emotion sot your intellectual decision.

So all you need to do is to engage your emotional function to your good intentions to change (which are basically intellectual, and therefore completely ineffective). Think of your intellectual decisions as a train wagon. However good to transport passengers and goods, it will only move if you can link it to the locomotive of your emotions.

Now that you understand the problem, sit down for the solution, for it will make you weak at the knees.

The only way to engage the emotional function to your intellectual decisions is by visualising it.

Yes, that is right. You must see in your mind the process by which you must achieve your goals. Once you see it, it will create an irresistible compulsion to do it.

It is that simple. Just try it. Do you have a pile of dirty dishes in the kitchen sink, and you are just too lazy to get out of the armchair to wash it? Just sit there, and start seeing yourself in your mind going through the process of washing the dishes. I assure you that you will not be able to sit idly for too long. Soon you will feel this violent compulsion to tackle the dishes.

But you must guard yourself against two mistakes most uninitiated make:

1. They visualise the goal, not the process. It is no good to sit in front of the TV and visualise the dishes sparkling clean in the cupboard. This is the goal. What you must visualise is the complete process that leads to that goal: getting up form the armchair, going to the kitchen, turning the water, soaping the dishes, drying the dishes, storing the dishes. The more detailed you can make this visualisation; the strongest will be the compulsion to fulfil it. Likewise, it is no good to visualise yourself playing Rach3 and bowing to the applause of the audience. This is the goal, not the process. Instead visualise the process of practising it in as much detail as possible and you will be unable to resist the compulsion to go and practise.

2. It is important to distinguish between two kinds of visualisation: associated and dissociated.

i. Dissociated visualisation is when you see yourself from the outside, so to speak. One way to create this kind of visualisation is to imagine yourself sitting at a cinema, and then see yourself as the main actor in a movie. This way you are seeing yourself form the outside. This is the kind of visualisation you want to avoid when dealing with laziness, because it disengages the emotional function. However this is very useful in certain circumstances when the emotional function would be a hindrance (this is the sort of think surgeons do when operating so that they can maintain their cool).

ii. In associated visualisations you actually go “inside yourself” so you see through your eyes, so to speak. This is the visualisation that engages the emotional function. That is the one you want to apply to your laziness.

3. One last word. We all do these visualisations all the time, but they are done haphazardly, chaotically and mostly at the unconscious level. Most of the time we start practising and unconsciously start visualising watching TV or playing some video game. The compulsion to do so results and practise becomes boring, so we have to watch TV. This is also a very typical pattern with people who are trying to stop smoking, for instance. They say I will stop smoking now, And then they unconsciously visualise having a very last cigarette. Next thing they know they have gone through a whole pack. The only way to counter such unconscious visualisations is to consciously visualise the process that will lead you to your goal. In the case of the cigarette addict , he must visualise himself actually refusing a cigarette, or even better, visualising himself doing something else. This explains why we have such constant shifts of mood and energy. What I am suggesting here is that you start to do it in a methodical and pre-planned way. (Oh crap, I forgot you are lazy, you are never going to do it!)

So, since you never seem to finish a piece, set yourself a goal that demands a finished piece. The best one is of course a performance of some sort. Then visualise regularly the process (or steps of the process) that will lead you to that goal.
"A person who persists in believing what is not true or disbelieving what is true can waste a lifetime of effort on something that is without hope of success."

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Re: Motivating oneself to actually start (and finish) work?

Postby fishyfish777 » Sun Dec 07, 2008 2:13 pm UTC

Get off the fora~

Damn, I just contradicted myself.
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