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Start with what

Lifestyle Oct 28, 2020

What makes us move? Motivation and inertia

This brings me back to our key drivers. Motivation is based on impulse and emotion, and where productivity is concerned it is often interwoven with the flawed assumption that a particular mental or emotional state must be reached in order to complete a task effectively. I think this closely relates to an emerging school of thought that teaches you must do a bunch of set activities to β€œfind your zen”, which will then enable you to engage in tasks that must be completed.

Discipline, conversely, disengages the task at hand from requisite feelings or moods. Discipline does what must be done, and the successful completion of a task usually brings about the same rush of endorphins that chronic procrastinators believe is necessary to even begin a task.

There’s a really interesting study by Dan Ariely where students were tasked with proofreading three passages. Group 1 got a weekly deadline for each passage. Group 2 got a single deadline for all passages, and Group 3 were allowed to set their own deadline.

Group 2 were the worst performers. The distant deadline proved an insufficient motivation without the compelling fear of a deadline each successive week. However, the group that set their own deadlines were the next worst performers. We frequently make faulty predictions of our future selves, particularly where it involves finding the motivation to engage with tasks. You’re expecting your future self to do something you won’t even do today.


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