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How do you stay motivated without deadlines, Snapzu?

As a grad student trying to self-discipline my work over the summer-break (gosh, I hate having no proper structure) I'm fining it difficult to stay motivated most days. It's easier to go on Netflix than to run regressions or read research papers when you feel like you have alllll summer to get that work done. So I wanted to ask, what are some of your strategies to get yourself working even when long-stretches of procrastination is an option?

3 years ago by sushmonster with 9 comments

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  • spaceghoti

    Motivation? What's that?

    • sushmonster

      It's this thing people apparently have that makes them do other things; imagine that!

      • spaceghoti

        I am intrigued by this concept, and wish to subscribe to your newsletter!

  • idlethreat (edited 3 years ago)

    I work remotely with a boss who seldom assigns actual tasks (more or less mentions things in passing) and very fluid deadlines. So, I spend a whole lot of time trying to build my own structure into my workday. Unsure if any of this will be of use to you, but here's my take on it.

    * Set the alarm clock, get dressed, and have a place to work from - yes, you can slum on the couch and do stuff, but if you force yourself mentally to prepare yourself for a workday, then you will be ready for it

    * Create projects and tasks. Plan what you want to do - Personally, I use Omnifocus to jot down projects, tasks, and deliverables. I schedule the tasks across the month and it reminds me when things are getting due. There's other GTD apps out there, so look around and see what does it for you.

    * Emergent Task Tracking - I have a spreadsheet using the Emergent Task Tracking concept. I can look across the past day, week, month, etc and see where my time went.

    Covey said it best: "begin with the end in mind." Visualize what you want to accomplish over the Summer. Best case scenario. Write it down. Now, break it down to component parts- x number of papers read a week, y number of regressions, z amount of programs, code, documentation, notes, etc. Put numbers around it. Schedule those into tasks and get started.

    But, take some time out everyday to enjoy the summer. perhaps you can get away with 4 hours a day instead of a full eight. Tweak it until it works for you.

    best of luck!

    • sushmonster

      Awesome advice! Thank you, I'll try to apply a lot of those! :)

  • ShinyRatFace

    The thing that works best for me is to create somewhat arbitrary deadlines for myself. I am self-employed and work from home. My days have almost no structure at all unless I create it for myself. So that's what I do... create structure.

    What do you need to get done over the summer? Break it down by what you need to get done each month, each week, each day. Be realistic and give yourself wiggle room to make up for lost time, unexpected delays, or disruptions.

    So, now you know what you need to accomplish each day! Take that seriously. And keep a day planner or a calendar where you can check off tasks and chunks of work you've completed. Watching yourself tick off accomplishments will keep you motivated and (alternately) watching uncompleted tasks start to pile up will motivate you to buckle down and quit procrastinating.

    Another big one is getting yourself on a schedule and sticking to it. Go to bed at the same time each night. Wake up at the same time each morning. And get to work at the same time each day. Personally, I like to get to work first thing in the morning because having the afternoon/evening to myself to relax once I've accomplished all of my work for the day is a good motivator for me to get to work and keep working until my goal for the day is met.

    • idlethreat

      Superb advice, man. Love it. Looks like we're working off the same notes to keep our day's in order ;)

  • Jupiter7

    Usually my boss yelling at me to get something done or reminding me he needs it yesterday does the trick.

  • remez

    Taking pleasure in the tasks works well, when I'm able to manage it. As soon as the task becomes interesting and/or challenging and/or pleasurable, it's much easier to remember and do.

    Rewards system is something worth a try, too. Like "I will watch this movie only when I've completed X." - then, if I'm eager to see the movie, X gets done ASAP.