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Self-discipline - for those who are "play before work" types

1413 Views 15 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  Seeker99
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".

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When you do it because you want to, how do you approach tasks?
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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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