What Actually Works?
I’ve written a little already about some ideas for boosting motivation. I also have some more ideas I haven’t written about yet. But do these ideas really help?
I’m inclined to answer “no”, which is a little self-defeating. Writing about these ideas might help develop a better picture about the ideas in general, but when I’m actually in the moment, they really suck.
The problem seems to be what I addressed briefly in the Precommitment essay: what I want to do in the moment is not what I’ll want to have done in the future. Basically, actions that seem like a good idea at present will be actions I’ll regret taking later on. This appears to be hard to address because the same brain trying to get me doing things is also the same one giving great excuses for why I should just laze around. So it seems like the main issue is how my brain is set up. Trying to use motivational techniques in the context of a brain that doesn’t want to do things is ineffective, to say the least.
This means that the largest gains to my workflow and motivation will probably come from tackling how my brain views things on a more fundamental level, rather than trying to come up with a clever mental construct and attempting to slap that over a problem which lies levels deeper.
In light of this, I don’t think that keeping certain mental constructs in mind can reliably “motivate” you to get things done. At least, I haven’t found something like that yet. Instead, it may be much more worth my time to focus on making productivity my default mindstate.
My revised view looks at trying to make “getting stuff done” a more ingrained part of my mental system. I shouldn’t have to struggle by implementing “mind hacks” to go against my typical inclination to laze around– by typical inclination should just be to “get stuff done”.
Much like how businesses automatically consider cost when it comes to decisions, the goal is to make productivity an assumption when making decisions. It’s the difference between concluding “I should be productive” as a result of axioms, versus having “I am productive” as one of my axioms for life.
I’m not too certain what this entails (though CBT appears to be a good start), but I hope it is more effective than my current approach.