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Thread: Motivation

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    Halfling in the Playground
     
    GreenSorcererElf

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    Default Motivation

    How do my fellow playgrounders get over the lack of motivation to get work done? In my case it is school work, but I feel like people suffer from a lack of motivation in all sorts of manners. I ask as I start to eek out this paper at 3 AM eastern time, so I was curious how others deal with lack of motivation.
    "A man once said do not meddle in the affairs of wizards for they are subtle and quick to anger. Tolkien had half of that right. **** subtlety." ~ Harry Dresden

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    Default Re: Motivation

    Discipline. It's hard, but everyOne can do work when inspired. It's the people who do work when they don't that are valuable.

    And discipline is the practice of doing what you planned when feeling peppy, when you're finally there and not so peppy.

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    Default Re: Motivation

    Break the project down into small planned chunks and stick to the plan. Try not to think of the whole project, just your current section. You don't have 10,000 words to write, just 500. Give yourself a small, pre-set reward for each section completed. Take regular short breaks. Eat a healthy, balanced diet to keep your blood-sugar stable; it's been demonstrated many times that willpower is linked to blood-sugar. After exercising discipline for a while you need a small rest and something to eat in order to continue working at the same level.
    Only an animal does useful things. An animal gets food, finds a place to sleep, tries to keep comfortable. But I wanted to do something that was not useful, not like an animal at all. Something only a human being would do.
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    Default Re: Motivation

    Quote Originally Posted by SiuiS View Post
    Discipline. It's hard, but everyOne can do work when inspired. It's the people who do work when they don't that are valuable.

    And discipline is the practice of doing what you planned when feeling peppy, when you're finally there and not so peppy.
    That is a very good definition of discipline, and is something I should work on personally. I just wish my professors would stop giving busy work, and give more meaningful assignments, but that is asking for too much from profs.
    "A man once said do not meddle in the affairs of wizards for they are subtle and quick to anger. Tolkien had half of that right. **** subtlety." ~ Harry Dresden

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    SwashbucklerGuy

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    Default Re: Motivation

    Quote Originally Posted by Talar View Post
    I just wish my professors would stop giving busy work, and give more meaningful assignments, but that is asking for too much from profs.
    That's what Daniel wanted Mr. Miyagi to do in the first Karate Kid movie. It turned out that the "busy work" was necessary repetition for developing habits and abilities, in ways that were not obvious to Daniel at the time.

    I teach algebra. What my students think is "busy work" is actually repetitive practice, so that those skills become so automatic that they can be used quickly as tools for solving harder problems.

    Do the work in good faith - without guessing on incomplete information whether or not it's "busy work".

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    Default Re: Motivation

    Habits are helpful here. It's much easier to do the work if you have a particular time, a particular space, and even a ritualistic approach to getting it done. If you have weekly homework (even if it is busywork), get in the habit of doing it on the same day at the same time each week. Ideally pick a day that isn't when it's due. Then, if you slip up on the routine, you can get it done later. Try to get back to your routine after doing that.
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    Default Re: Motivation

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay R View Post
    I teach algebra. What my students think is "busy work" is actually repetitive practice, so that those skills become so automatic that they can be used quickly as tools for solving harder problems.

    Do the work in good faith - without guessing on incomplete information whether or not it's "busy work".
    There are bad teachers in the world, though, and some of them unfortunately give a lot of busywork. I had a teacher that wanted us to do things like copy down verbatim definitions and vocabulary words out of the textbook and hand them in as assignments every week. For a college-level biology class. I stopped doing them because I didn't have time and it was a total waste of effort (I was up past midnight almost every night doing homework that year and I had to get up at 6AM for classes), and she tried to give me a D in the class despite me never getting lower than an A- on a test or quiz. I got the highest score in the class on the final exam after spending my time doing useful studying instead of busy work. The administration had my grade altered because they agreed with me.

    Busywork - and the teachers who assign it - can bite me. It's stuff like this that burns people out on academia. No wonder it's hard to get motivated. I feel your pain, OP... by the time I was a senior in college I had serious problems with motivation and procrastination just from being so burned out, and dropped my plans for grad school because I couldn't stand it any more. Hope you manage it better than I did. The end of the school year is in sight!

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    Default Re: Motivation

    You're making the dangerous assumption that we do get over lack of motivation.
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    There are different motivations for different activities. As far as schoolwork is concerned, it's a desire to never work with the general public ever again. In high school, I couldn't stand the sort of things you're talking about. Now, school seems like a vacation.

    If I may make a suggestion, try spacing out your classes a bit next semester if you don't already. You'll end up spending a ton of time on campus, but that time can be utilized to do homework (either just after it's assigned or just before it's due), cram for that test, study, or just read.

    Setting goals and making a checklist can help as well. Realistically, you'll only get about a third of it done, but just having a discrete set of things to do can incite action.

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    Default Re: Motivation

    Quote Originally Posted by Jormengand View Post
    You're making the dangerous assumption that we do get over lack of motivation.
    Take it as a compliment

    I guess it is possible that I am missing something about the assignment. But it is a paper about a slum in Bombay, and what the prof wants us to write about was already thoroughly discussed in the class, so the assignment to me seems superfluous. Thanks for the general tips guys, they are definitely things I should keep in mind.
    "A man once said do not meddle in the affairs of wizards for they are subtle and quick to anger. Tolkien had half of that right. **** subtlety." ~ Harry Dresden

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Motivation

    Do note that if you have some form of the attention-related disorders, taking lots of short breaks is about the worst thing you can do if you want to get something done. Setting up a routine for homework, study etc becomes even MORE important though.

    You generally want your study space to eliminate excuses not to study. Empty your bladder before you start, have fluids, preferably drinkable water, available, have a comfortable chair, and don't leave anything you'd normally read for pleasure lying around.
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    Default Re: Motivation

    Quote Originally Posted by Talar View Post
    Take it as a compliment

    I guess it is possible that I am missing something about the assignment. But it is a paper about a slum in Bombay, and what the prof wants us to write about was already thoroughly discussed in the class, so the assignment to me seems superfluous. Thanks for the general tips guys, they are definitely things I should keep in mind.
    If you can do further research, it might be worth doing, even if the paper doesn't actually require it (I'm assuming it's some miniaturized pseudo-essay joke assignment). It's probably more work, but it's work you put in to learn better and it makes things less tedious.
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    Default Re: Motivation

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay R View Post
    That's what Daniel wanted Mr. Miyagi to do in the first Karate Kid movie. It turned out that the "busy work" was necessary repetition for developing habits and abilities, in ways that were not obvious to Daniel at the time.

    I teach algebra. What my students think is "busy work" is actually repetitive practice, so that those skills become so automatic that they can be used quickly as tools for solving harder problems.

    Do the work in good faith - without guessing on incomplete information whether or not it's "busy work".
    This. "Busy-work" is pretty much the only kind teachers - and to a lesser extent, professors - can give. It's rare to find a real-world task that meets all the conditions it would have to, to assign to a student:
    • Within the student's capabilities
    • Involves less work to explain and define, than to just do
    • Not critical if it gets blown off, or done badly.

    Even if the professor could find plenty of tasks like that, they'd have to assign them individually to each student - otherwise, 22 out of the class of 23 will still feel, afterwards, that they've been doing "busy work" because they're just doing an inferior version that will be discarded.

    If you can't live with that, then maybe it's time to quit full-time education. Seriously. It's not for everyone, there's no shame in going out and getting a full time job.
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    Default Re: Motivation

    Quote Originally Posted by veti View Post
    This. "Busy-work" is pretty much the only kind teachers - and to a lesser extent, professors - can give. It's rare to find a real-world task that meets all the conditions it would have to, to assign to a student:
    • Within the student's capabilities
    • Involves less work to explain and define, than to just do
    • Not critical if it gets blown off, or done badly.

    Even if the professor could find plenty of tasks like that, they'd have to assign them individually to each student - otherwise, 22 out of the class of 23 will still feel, afterwards, that they've been doing "busy work" because they're just doing an inferior version that will be discarded.

    If you can't live with that, then maybe it's time to quit full-time education. Seriously. It's not for everyone, there's no shame in going out and getting a full time job.
    Hardly. There are things like proper research papers, STEM problems which require actual thought (or which constitute necessary practice, often both), and a bunch of other things. I've been assigned plenty of things that aren't busy work, because they actually legitimately do involve honing skills, and by college often even have real world application - sure, you're working with a somewhat smaller chunk than you realistically would, and some of the information you just have you would likely have to find, but there's still applications.
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    SwashbucklerGuy

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    Default Re: Motivation

    Quote Originally Posted by Talar View Post
    Take it as a compliment

    I guess it is possible that I am missing something about the assignment. But it is a paper about a slum in Bombay, and what the prof wants us to write about was already thoroughly discussed in the class, so the assignment to me seems superfluous. Thanks for the general tips guys, they are definitely things I should keep in mind.
    Sometimes the purpose of an assignment is to measure how much you listened, understood, and retained. You are in essence being tested on that material.

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Motivation

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay R View Post
    Sometimes the purpose of an assignment is to measure how much you listened, understood, and retained. You are in essence being tested on that material.
    Or the purpose of the essay is to see how you write, or to produce written material so it can be critiqued. Lecturing the entire class on the material ensures (for the most part) that everyone is on a level playing field with respect to subject matter knowledge, and everyone is writing on the same subject.

    Schoolwork isn't like real world work because real world work isn't calibrated to determine a level of achievement. Sometimes this is like a kitchen knife complaining that it will never have to slice a grindstone, so bring on the tomatoes and meats and such and let's skip all this monotonous grinding.
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    Default Re: Motivation

    Personally, I'm bad at being motivated. I'll work, I'll stop and check this forum or email or whatever, check the news, go do more work after that, then stop again. At this point, I simply consider that an overall process. I've never had a problem getting all the work done that I need to get done by doing that kind of process, and I'm frankly not sure that I'd be more efficient if I forced myself to just sit down and work without distractions. My empirical evidence is that the worst grades I've ever gotten in my life were the one semester in law school where I decided I wouldn't play any video games on weekdays and stuck to it. The next semester I gave that up and did much better in school. So...shrug.

    The real trick, I think, is getting good at estimating. Then, once you've gotten good at estimating, take your estimation and add 20% more time to it.
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    Default Re: Motivation

    I mean, there's always the last minute approach. Excellent for getting work done, if you don't mind slightly more variable quality.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anarion View Post
    Personally, I'm bad at being motivated.
    Aren't we all.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Jay R View Post
    Aren't we all.

    Yeah that's pretty much my entire life. Except now there's a smart phone that pings me when people I know say things to me.
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    Default Re: Motivation

    The only thing that's ever worked for me with any degree of consistency, is "turning the things I normally take for granted into 'rewards', and setting conditions for myself to meet before I qualify for them'."

    For instance, "I will have done this task before I eat my lunch." The risk there is that I might just end up going without lunch entirely, which isn't enough of a punishment to keep me from goofing off if the task is really offputting.

    My most successful application of this approach was a medium-term task: I was determined to emigrate by the end of that year. I told myself "Okay, here are eight things that I need to get around to before this can happen. I will only cut my fingernails when I've ticked off one of them." Then, when I started finding it hard to type, I had a constant and, quite literally, growing reminder of what I needed to do. It worked.
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    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Kobold

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    Default Re: Motivation

    My college education was more about learning how to get things done than about learning the material.

    Rules help. Sometimes I wouldn't let myself game until homework was done. Other times I'd schedule breaks. Like, I'd put on an album (we called them CDs in those days) during homework. When it ended I'd put on another album for a break. Repeat. Etc.

    When I didn't have the discipline to follow those rules I got a second computer. My desktop was for gaming. My laptop wasn't powerful enough for gaming so it was for homework. If I went somewhere with just my laptop, video game icons didn't call out to me, so I wouldn't think to start a game. I realize buying another computer isn't always an option, but library computers are even weaker than my laptop and are a perfectly good alternative. I graduated almost 10 years ago and this still applies. I'm allowed to work from home two days a week, but I go into the office anyway because home is where I keep my distractions. It's easier to not get distracted if I don't even have the option.

    Finally, momentum is its own motivation. What I mean by that is that when I get stuff done I continue to get stuff done. Knowing that, I can sometimes plow through work solely on the basis of not falling off the wagon.
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    Default Re: Motivation

    I just channel my crushing fear of death.
    You aren't punished for anger. You are punished by your anger.
    - Buddha

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    Quote Originally Posted by Thanqol View Post
    I just channel my crushing fear of death.
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    That was pithy as all get out.
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    Default Re: Motivation

    Just do it

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    Default Re: Motivation

    For me at least, it's stubbornness and pride. I have trouble paying attention or focusing for long. Right now I should be studying and actually I'm switching between writing this post on my phone and looking at histology slides. But the thing is that I know what I want to do, and I'm too damn stubborn to not do it, and too proud to not do a good job. So basically I brute-force it.

    I've found other things that help, like studying in big blocks of time, during the day, with soundtracks in the background. But I can't do that all the time, so this semester I'm practicing at studying outside my optimal comfort zone (though it's more like I have to, given my odd schedule). But honestly, the biggest thing is that I don't really know when to quit so I brute-force my study habits, and I'm too stubborn and proud to let things go.

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