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MOTM Dec 2011
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Any advice on creating & enforcing structure in your own life? How do you discipline yourself to accomplish tasks that there is no one else to motivate you to do (or no immediate consequences)?

I grew up finding school TOO easy (homework was done on the bus ride home, I never needed to study, I pulled projects off at the 11th hour, etc) and my parents did not make me do chores. I have little self-discipline. However, I can muster a LOT of self-motivation if I care enough, and then discipline is not even an issue, as I just do it cuz I want to. The problem is when I don't care, or not enough, but I know I NEED to care.

I'm a play before work type, and I am deadline oriented. This can mean if I have no deadline for a task I don' care to do, then I just continue to goof off. I've tried promising myself some reward upon finishing some task, but that doesn't always work. I've tried denying myself something, like a form of punishment, until the task is done, or if it's done late, but that does not work either.

How do you create motivation for something you really don't want to do but need to do?
I realize a lot of this is mental, so any tips on how to "reason" with yourself to get the right mindset is appreciated. Keep in mind, I don't respond well (or at all) to "tough love".

Thanks.
 

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Take up a sport where if you don't plan ahead or if your gear is under maintained you get hurt or die. Rock climbing for instance. Or sailing, for a bit more of a buffer before death. Ocean Swimming might do it. Probably anything will do that interests you enough to get you hooked. Then you get to play as you work - working at teaching yourself to follow rules that mean something. Instead of arbitrary rules/political rules. Then you can take the appreciation of why things are done into other areas. On the other hand, you might just invent the next extreme sport or become an olympian. In which case you will have work and play, so problem solved once again. I don't see how you can lose. Even Johnny Knoxville and SteveO had to show up for shooting. After that...:wink:
 

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Personally for me self-punishment and reward doesn't really work either.

When I have a task that has no deadline I try to make myself belief there is one, meaning I set a deadline for myself and seriously try to keep to it.

Also you could try to make the task more interesting to you by connecting it to something you like and that would motivate you to do it.

The only other way I know is getting someone to nag you to do it.
 

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MOTM Dec 2011
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Discussion Starter #5
When you do it because you want to, how do you approach tasks?
Well, when I want to do something, then it feels like fun in a way. Example: I'm a graphic designer, and on occasion I'll get a project that is inspiring. I can dive into it quickly. I instantly have ideas, and I'm finding it interesting to explore them. It becomes "play", basically. I usually do things in a whirlwind so I can finish them before I lose interest. I have to create the concept in reality as I think of it, as the concept is my motivation. Once it gets to the nitty gritty details, I get bored and may abandon it (if it's something without a deadline or if someone is NOT expecting a result from me).

Other times, the work is dull. This is often when it is not very creative or when it becomes repetitive.

I tend to accomplish things in fantasy - I'll imagine cleaning my whole apartment, then I won't do it because I FEEL like I already did. I know that makes NO sense, but it's an aspect of having a strong imagination. I find doing something when I begin to imagine it, so the real world process & fantasy go hand-in-hand, is the easiest way for me to do things. However, it's not always possible to do stuff as I think of it, as I may have other priorities I need to accomplish at the moment. Sometimes I feel bogged down by all these things I need to do, and so I end up doing nothing.


When I have a task that has no deadline I try to make myself belief there is one, meaning I set a deadline for myself and seriously try to keep to it.
I can't trick myself....I've tried that. The problem is, I KNOW there is no deadline.

Also you could try to make the task more interesting to you by connecting it to something you like and that would motivate you to do it.
This is my usual approach. I turn music on and try and make the task more enjoyable. I still find it too easy to good off. The minute interest in the task at hand wanes, I find myself making music itunes playlists or something, with the idea that the right mix will do the trick. :crazy:
 

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Well, when I want to do something, then it feels like fun in a way. Example: I'm a graphic designer, and on occasion I'll get a project that is inspiring. I can dive into it quickly. I instantly have ideas, and I'm finding it interesting to explore them. It becomes "play", basically. I usually do things in a whirlwind so I can finish them before I lose interest. I have to create the concept in reality as I think of it, as the concept is my motivation. Once it gets to the nitty gritty details, I get bored and may abandon it (if it's something without a deadline or if someone is NOT expecting a result from me).

Other times, the work is dull. This is often when it is not very creative or when it becomes repetitive.

I tend to accomplish things in fantasy - I'll imagine cleaning my whole apartment, then I won't do it because I FEEL like I already did. I know that makes NO sense, but it's an aspect of having a strong imagination. I find doing something when I begin to imagine it, so the real world process & fantasy go hand-in-hand, is the easiest way for me to do things. However, it's not always possible to do stuff as I think of it, as I may have other priorities I need to accomplish at the moment. Sometimes I feel bogged down by all these things I need to do, and so I end up doing nothing.
I actually relate a lot to this. I have background in accounting so getting things done that were mind numbingly boring is something I had to develop fast.

When it comes to the nitty gritty I'll break down the assignment into a step by step process and write it out on a pad of paper. Let's say I hated making pb&j sandwiches (which I don't), I would probably write something out like this:

1. Plop two slices of bread on plate
2. Plop peanut butter on slice 1
3. Plop jelly on slice 2
4. Plop more peanut butter on slices 1 and 2
5. Plop two slices together.
6. Enjoy.

Start - to -Finish lists like this have always helped me when I really didn't want to do something. As soon as I would be done with a step, I'd check it off, add a smiley face or two, and continue on to the next step. It helps me mentally because it seems more manageable. Otherwise, I would just sit there and think about how cumbersome it is.

I also find that I assign value to my step by step lists. Almost like it's a how-to-guide to freedom and getting things done.

I'm not sure if that will help you but hopefully it does.
 

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I suppose that I was likely conditioned into my current role... some via parents and some via my own doing. There's far too much back story to attempt to explain, but I think in my case, the defining moment came to me at a young age when my father casually, yet matter-of-factly, told me, something akin to:

"There ain't no Santa Clauses, son. If you want something, no matter what it may be, you must go out and figure out a way to get it for yourself in an honest manner. No one owes you ANYTHING, and don't you ever forget it. You only have yourself to depend on. Life isn't fair, period, so don't complain when things don't work out in your favor all of the time, but keep after it and you'll accomplish whatever you want. Just make sure that you want what you're after. You will have to endure a lot of pain and have a lot of discipline, but I promise you it will be worth it. All you really have in this world is your reputation and once you lose it, you cannot ever get it back, so guard yours always. Also, always remember, that you have a choice in everything. One choice may not be desirable, but it is still a choice. The right thing to do is not always popular."

I'm sure I have romanticized it through my own filters, but that's how I remember it and how I have always lived it. Of course, we've had other talks in life as well, and while what I write here isn't remotely meant as a "pep-talk" or anything like that, I'll offer this one last thought that my own father shared with me:

"Do what you have to do, when you have to do it. Then, as you get older, you will be able to do what you want to do, when you want to do it and will owe no one anything."

So, I may not have answered your question, directly, but let me say that, for me, I am often motivated to learn new things. I cannot stand to have something dangling over my head, knowing that I will have to eventually do it. I guess, again, I have an inner drive that jolts me into doing things that may be unpleasant, because I know that, eventually (and it becomes clearer each day to me), I will be able to do what I want, when I want.

Unfortunately, I do not have any unsolicited advice on how to develop this "ability". I wouldn't dare say it's *maturity* (or lack thereof) nor *age difference* since I also know individuals both older and younger than me that are on both sides of this issue. I also will not try the "tough love" approach, but only attempt to explain from my own upbringing.

I hope this was somewhat helpful, even if only at the margins.
 

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if only i can get paid somehow for goofing around and being lazy i can be a billionare! there must be a way, it's probably really complicated and it would take a lot of effort to work it out, but i honestly believe it can be done. "ill do it tomorrow".
 

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MOTM Dec 2011
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Discussion Starter #9
I suppose that I was likely conditioned into my current role... some via parents and some via my own doing. There's far too much back story to attempt to explain, but I think in my case, the defining moment came to me at a young age when my father casually, yet matter-of-factly, told me, something akin to:

"There ain't no Santa Clauses, son. If you want something, no matter what it may be, you must go out and figure out a way to get it for yourself in an honest manner. No one owes you ANYTHING, and don't you ever forget it. You only have yourself to depend on. Life isn't fair, period, so don't complain when things don't work out in your favor all of the time, but keep after it and you'll accomplish whatever you want. Just make sure that you want what you're after. You will have to endure a lot of pain and have a lot of discipline, but I promise you it will be worth it. All you really have in this world is your reputation and once you lose it, you cannot ever get it back, so guard yours always. Also, always remember, that you have a choice in everything. One choice may not be desirable, but it is still a choice. The right thing to do is not always popular."
Hm...he sounds like an STJ. That speech would not have affected me, honestly. The "life is not fair" argument immediately sets off alarms - it contradicts my ideals. Life SHOULD be fair, and that is all that matters. If we accept everything as it is, then it will never improve.

I also think people DO owe each other things, namely that we have moral obligations to one another as fellow human beings. This should be evident in the way we treat and deal with one another on every level of interaction.

Anyhow, my parents did give me some discipline & structure, but they also made sure not to crush my spirit. I think I would have rebelled if they had tried to be too rigid. It's just not in my nature to create structure for myself, but I can work within loose structure created by others well.

"Do what you have to do, when you have to do it. Then, as you get older, you will be able to do what you want to do, when you want to do it and will owe no one anything."

So, I may not have answered your question, directly, but let me say that, for me, I am often motivated to learn new things. I cannot stand to have something dangling over my head, knowing that I will have to eventually do it. I guess, again, I have an inner drive that jolts me into doing things that may be unpleasant, because I know that, eventually (and it becomes clearer each day to me), I will be able to do what I want, when I want.
I get what you're saying, but I don't agree with spending your youth doing mundane work to finally do what you want when you're old. I try and minimize what I don't want to do NOW, so I can do what I want to do NOW, but you can only eliminate so much of it. A big part of my "play" is how I work, in the sense that I get ideas then. As a designer, I need ideas. It's when something does not require ideas that I get lost.

The issue comes down to focus for me - I can't focus my attention. I start to wonder off into la la land when something is very simple and familiar. It's a matter of will power though, as I have a very good attention span when something interests me (ie. complex or new things).

I'm looking for a way to make bland work interesting to me or to create a sense of urgency to motivate me. If I'm in the right frame of mind, then I can accomplish a lot in a short amount of time.

------

Troisi, I guess the first thing on my list is to make a list....eventually :tongue:

Seriously though, the list option is useful for me in tasks, such as cleaning my apartment. I do find myself making mental lists so as to make it less overwhelming; I can take it one step at a time. I have to remember to keep these goals reasonable though. I have a tendency to plan TOO much, and then when I fail to meet my list I get discouraged.

I have made lists on occasion for work, but some difficulty arises with design as it can be, well, "organic" in its process. There aren't clear steps. I suppose that's why Feeling types are drawn to art. You just know when it's done; there is not always a defined finish line.

This is why I need some structure from outside myself, like a deadline set by someone else.
 
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I'm the same way. What I do is I do it in increments.

Like right now I have a literature review for tomorrow. I had to find 4 sources to use in my paper, read them, and write a summary. So I'm just doing one at a time. I get one done, then come on PerC or talk to a friend for a bit. Do another, then go on PerC more.

When I have to read a long boring chapter, I break it up into 10 pages at a time or less. Sometimes I read the last 10 pages first or something weird like that to mix it up.

There's not a lot of motivation, its just forcing myself to get it done, and giving myself breaks because I simply can't focus enough to get it all done in one sitting.
 

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Hm...he sounds like an STJ. That speech would not have affected me, honestly. The "life is not fair" argument immediately sets off alarms - it contradicts my ideals. Life SHOULD be fair, and that is all that matters. If we accept everything as it is, then it will never improve.
Nah, my dad is an xNTJ, like myself. I'm genuinely curious as to why you think that life SHOULD be fair? I don't necessarily disagree with you, mind you, just curious as to the logical reasons as to why.

I also think people DO owe each other things, namely that we have moral obligations to one another as fellow human beings. This should be evident in the way we treat and deal with one another on every level of interaction.
Again, I'm curious as to why you think that Person A owes Person B something by mere virtue of existing. Treating others with respect and the like is just good manners and "moral obligation" is highly subjective.
 

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I think life should be fair....to me :tongue:


Actually I'm a big believer in the motto "shit happens". Sometimes bad things happen and its nobody's fault. What isn't fair is spreading the suffering around by making others pay when life isn't fair to you.
 

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Nah, my dad is an xNTJ, like myself. I'm genuinely curious as to why you think that life SHOULD be fair? I don't necessarily disagree with you, mind you, just curious as to the logical reasons as to why.

Again, I'm curious as to why you think that Person A owes Person B something by mere virtue of existing. Treating others with respect and the like is just good manners and "moral obligation" is highly subjective.
I don't really feel like getting into a debate on this, and I don't see any reason why such a feeling needs to be "objective". I'll briefly explain my viewpoint. And yes, this is a brief version, as it's a complex topic.

Morality is not entirely results dependent, especially not immediate results. If something "bad" results in something "good", does that mean it is not "bad"?. I don't think so. Maybe some people do, but they often have short term vision and don't see how something affects the basic structures of human interactions, and how over time it degrades these structures so there are breakdowns in social order. Then there are all these negative consequences, many of which are huge and difficult to solve. At this point, these "bad" things have been accepted as social norms, and people say, "that's just life". It's like trying to defy gravity though - at a certain point, whatever is keeping something in the air will run out, and down it falls.

So of course, sometimes social order is wrong or at least flawed, which is why accepting things as they are is not something I can always do. If it seems a "rule" or the status quo is at odds with a basic concept of what is good, then I will reject it. In the same way, people have rejected things in the past they saw were wrong, such as slavery. On the other hand, upholding certain standards is important when these standards promote what is good.

I don't believe in a dog eat dog mentality, basically. I think human survival requires harmony between people because we are interdependent. I'm not talking about manners even, but basic human decency. Concepts of murder & stealing being wrong are based on creating & maintaining this feeling of harmony; if people feel safe & trust each other, then they can accomplish more in the long run. However, I don't think it boils down to what you DON'T do to people, but also what you DO to/for them. In a sense, not doing anything is negligent ("the absence of bad is not good"). For example, a parent does not kill their child, but they also don't feed them. They are not a good parent. They have a moral responsibility to DO something as well as to refrain from doing other things.

Fairness is also a basic part of justice. It denotes impartiality. Injustice does not create harmony between people. Biases and partiality create divisions, not unity. I don't feel like typing out examples; use your imagination.

Actually, Troisi posted a video in the cognitive functions section which he saw as an illustration of Fi, and while I don't agree with everything in the video, I think it makes some good points and does reflect a Fi attitude in some of its basic concepts.
 

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Well structure consists of a well planned out day for me. So i make a number of goals which should be completed by the end of the day i will numerically list the goals by importance, and sometimes meals will be planned to. When i am done finishing all the tasks on my list i do whatever i want to do.
 

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I know exactly what you mean. I've definitely always been a "play before work" type and I can't make myself do something when I'm just not in the mood to do it. It's like my brain shuts off. I can remember back in high school when I had to choose between seeing my friends or going straight home to work on a project that was due the next day I'd choose my friends every time. My thought process was if I skipped out on my friends I might miss out on good memories I'll have forever. So what if I had to stay up late to get the project done? Honestly I still think that way and have a problem with procrastinating, but I think over the past few years I've come up with a few little things that help.

I know how hard it is to stick to self-imposed deadlines so unless you can get someone to give you some external motivation to stick to those deadlines it probably won't work. But if you can split a project into smaller tasks that might help you, and the smaller the better. (I know the easiest time I had writing a paper in college was for one class where the teacher had us turn in a small section of the paper every couple of weeks so we were forced to split up the work into more manageable pieces. I think that's the only time in college I didn't end up writing the whole paper in the last few days before it was due.) Work for like 10-20 minutes and then goof off for a while if you're just not in the mood for work anymore. If you can't do that make the task even smaller - work for 5 minutes instead. I think if you can split the work into tasks that seem so small that it's almost ridiculous not to do them you're less likely to put tasks off.

Sometimes when I have problems focusing on a project it's because I have too many ideas about it floating around in my head. If that's the case for you too it might help you just to make an outline or a list just so you can organize your thoughts and focus on one thing at a time. As an added bonus if you have a lot of things to get done, checking off your list and watching it get smaller and smaller can be a real mood booster and can help alleviate that overwhelmed feeling that comes with procrastinating. I started doing this my last semester of college and sometimes I found myself doing work ahead of schedule just so I could cross it off my list.

Sometimes I put off a task because my perfectionistic tendencies make the task more overwhelming for me than it should be. I know for the longest time with my own projects and assignments there was no such thing as a rough draft because I couldn't move forward unless I was totally happy with what I'd already done, which of course makes the work take twice as long (and makes it more stressful). If you have this problem, just force yourself to do something because even if you do a half-assed job on your first attempt, you've still got it half done (and you've got the hardest part done... actually getting started). You can always go back later when inspiration strikes and improve on what you've already done.

I hope some of this helps. (If it doesn't, just be grateful for that boost of creative energy that comes right before a deadline and saves all us procrastinators from epic failure. :tongue:)
 

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I am the biggest procrastinator. I procrastinate EVERYTHING, even things that I enjoy doing. Anyway, I won't go into that.

I read this really cheesy book called "Let's Get Motivated" (xD) that was actually very helpful.

The basic idea is to precisely define your goal and decide methodically how to go about it. What's important is that you WANT to achieve it, not just because you think you have to. Focus on the end result, picture yourself having done it and just go for it.

Okay that all sounds incredibly obvious... I don't really know how to explain it.

Maybe these will help:

Procrastination
Increase Motivation | PickTheBrain | Motivation and Self Improvement
 
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