Afternoon Inquisition

Sunday AI: Motivation (or lack thereof)

I think I have a terrible illness. It seems to be late-onset spring fever.
I am consumed with slackitude.  I haven’t even finished unpacking from my move yet–and I moved at the end of April.  Suddenly, it’s almost time for SkepchickCon!  I was going to have all sorts of things done before then.  Whoops.

Lazy Lion

I can’t seem to get started writing at work, or on my own personal writing projects. All I want to do is hang out, read books, and nap.  I keep staring into space in my new office, instead of productively planning for fall semester.

I know that I should feel guilty, but I just can’t work up enough angst to change my pattern at the moment.  I am really, really enjoying being lazy, which I suppose is understandable after 4 years of working constant overtime on my old job.

How do you motivate yourself to get work done? What works and what doesn’t work for you?


Bug_girl has a PhD in Entomology, and is a pointy-headed former academic living in Ohio. She is obsessed with insects, but otherwise perfectly normal. Really! If you want a daily stream of cool info about bugs, follow her Facebook page or find her on Twitter.

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  1. I keep a few big bottles of really good beer in the fridge. I pick out the one I will drink after I finish the project(s) I’ve been putting off. Right now I’m one more task away from a smiling Belgian monk!

  2. The “honor system” self-rewarding never, *ever* works on me, so I just break out a twelve-pack of ale and an up-beat record that I can sing along to, and by the end of the day I’ve usually finished at least a couple of unpleasant tasks that I wouldn’t have been able to complete had I been thinking too much. I’m afraid this applies even to projects that require thought…

  3. I am having the same problem working on my PhD thesis. I try to get at least something done every day, but it is slow going. Sometimes, with my data, it is like putting “lipstick on a pig”, and that is not pleasant. I work with animals in the rainforest, and finished my last field season in May. It is not like I can go re-do my observations…much as I would like to.
    Beer does not agree with me either, for some reason, so don’t feel too alone.

  4. I promise someone that it will get done by a certain date. I’m completely mental about deadlines so it works rather well. This also means I wind up working a lot of weekends, but so it goes.

  5. You can’t avoid the situation. There is no turning back. The only way forward is *through* the laziness.
    You have to take the slack-assitude to it’s ultimate limit and bore your mind into restarting the ambition drive.
    Stop working. Stop posting. Don’t leave the house. No reading. Don’t shower. Don’t even get out of bed! Use a bedpan.
    I have to warn you: this is a dangerous path. Some people come through in a week. Others aren’t seen for months. A few poor souls never return from the Land of Sloth.
    But if you can push through, the rewards are great. Imagine: an unlimited amount of work in your future!

  6. To help with the reward based way to increase motivation try setting up whats called a token economy. For instance, MathMike could set up a system where say he gets 15 points for finishing some task toward his project then he could set say a “price” of 100 pts for a beer (could be different pts for different beers). He could then set up more things that can act as an “income” in this economy.

  7. I’m currently working on assignment #5 of 7 due by Friday. Naturally, I’m reading lots of fiction books, and playing a game on the smartphone. I find tricking myself works – I say to myself, i’m not going to do any actual work, i’m just going to open the file on the computer, and have it on screen. If I get that far, (which in itself is troublesome), then I find that 15 minutes later there’s actual progress.

    1. I thought a little about nominating this for a COTW. Maybe I’ll get around to it later.

  8. Oh, do I empathize! Two sayings that pretty much sum up my life are one I learned from my brother: “the world’s round; we’ll get there,” and one from my best friend in grad school: “You don’t want to rush into these things…”

    There a couple of things that work for me, at least some of the time. Like davew suggested, external deadlines. If someone else is depending on me, I usually come through. The other thing is a regular kitchen timer. I keep in in my office, and when I’m feeling overwhelmed, I set it for 20 minutes, and tell myself I’m going to do whatever I want during that 20 minutes (it usually involves the internet). Then, I’m usually able to get some work done after that. Guilt can be kind of paralyzing for me, so if I give myself permission to fuck around for a limited amount of time, I seem to be able to be productive after that.

    Oh, and drugs. When my antidepressant dose is too low, I’m totally screwed, in so many ways (except the fun one).

    I like quotes. Douglas Adams said something like “I love deadlines. I love the whooshing sound they make when they go past”.

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