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I have a mind set that I do things when I want to do things, and I think this had led to a procrastination technique that my mind uses against itself. There are days that I'm just "not in the mood" for doing certain things. Especially when it comes to tackling a big piece of work or something that requires a lot of effort (like writing). Did anybody have the same problem, and got over it? How do I convince that I can start working no matter what mood I am in?

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

Getting into the mood is about momentum. If you're watching TV, your momentum will be to watch more TV. If you feel like eating something, but you're having fun watching TV, it takes a strong enough force (like hunger or drowsiness) to get you off the couch or the activity would have to stop (e.g. the episode ending).

If you never start on something, you'll never be in the mood to do it. Start with small bits first, and you'll slowly gain that momentum. Just deciding how to do it would help. Or write a blog/talk to yourself to get yourself in the mood.

Eventually, if you're doing something often enough, you won't feel the urge to do something else.

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Well, get rid of your mind set. It's the mind set that is the problem, so ditch it. Set your mind to "I do things when I have to do things", and your problem will go away. :-)

Think about the aims. The bigger picture. Am I in a mood to have a clean house? Am I in a mood to graduate in few years? Am I in a mood to get paid for my work? You lack motivation. Find some. Actively search for motivation. Otherwise you'll just end up in a downward spiral loop because your procrastination will lead to depression and then to passivity which leads to more procrastination.

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That is a great answer. The bigger picture! – aliensurfer Nov 20 '12 at 10:52
Do what the job requires, not what you feel like doing. Even if "the job" is your private life. – Dennis S. Nov 26 '12 at 18:47

Let's be honest. There are some tasks that we never are in the mood to do (at least that's true for me). So you can argue that in a certain moment you are not in the mood to do the dishes, but is that really required to do them? No, requirements for washing the dishes are warm water and 20 Minutes of free time.

Tim Pychyl (and probably other researchers/authors) talks a lot about how we are bad at predicting our future mood. So the thought "tomorrow I will feel more like it" is in most cases wrong. A way to combat these flaws of our thinking you can make concrete plans beforehand that don't factor in mood: "For the next weeks I will start writing on my thesis at 9am every weekday". Note: My experience is that the bad feelings/anxiety gets better a few minutes into doing the task, because my mind realizes that I'm doing the right thing and that I'm working towards the goal I also thought about before ("It really would be awesome to finally have that degree...")

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If it's an activity that I can build into a routine, then that routine sees me through much of the "I don't feel like it" phase. A set routine helps make it less about how you feel and more about just sticking to the routine and letting the work come as part of that.

It's not complex (though not necessarily easy) to build these work routines that lead to working habits, but they are very powerful when it comes to out-thinking yourself by thinking less. I just need to get over the initial hurdle of starting...once I've gotten started it's a lot easier (and then I can take advantage of Pomodoro or other techniques).

It also works for me to not only have concrete plans but, if possible, some easily achievable first steps ready to go for the time I am going to work.

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Structured procrastination gives some amazing tipps to trick yourself into doing something. The main idea is as follows. Procrastinators tend to do many things in order to avoid the things they really should be doing. The trick is now to give your self some really annoying things to do, which you can put off by doing all that what you originally planned to do. :-)

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One of the great ways when working on large tasks is to break it in manageable bits. This will helps you do tasks a lot easier. Another good thing to do when working on tasks is to set an estimated amount of time, which allows you to stay focus on tasks, limit wasted time and get things done. This is what I personally do at work. I spend most of the time in front of the computer that makes me vulnerable to different kinds of distractions. I track time accurately using Time Doctor. My key in order to do tasks and finish it on time is with “Self Discipline”. At the end of the day I feel the fulfillment at work each time I can finish tasks without wasting too much time.

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