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I have an addictive personality for activities with constant stimulation.

videogames - call of duty
reddit/youtube - always changing

I struggle with keeping focused and interested in work (studying, reading, working).


How do I convert less interesting tasks like studying, reading and coding into tasks that give constant stimulation?

I'm am (broke addiction for the past 3 months) of Call of Duty and other videogames that have constant action. I can play it for hours and the time flies. I would be amazing if I could build a similar excitement and addiction to productive tasks.


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up vote 4 down vote accepted

I think the appealing aspect of Call of Duty and other multi-player games is the real-time competition with other players.

When I was a university student and there were topics I didn't like too much, I found studying in group, with people better than me at a certain subject, very performing.

This has always encouraged me to study more in detail and not just the basic things.

PS: take this kind of competition as a game and don't hate people who know more than you (you're also probably better in other subject :-)

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Hey, Thanks. I got halfway there in the last few weeks making study groups, but I like your idea of treating the groups as a competition. Learn as much as possible to 'win' and find smart people to challenge myself and make me better. – Mhsmith21 Nov 11 '13 at 9:16

I think working with spaced repetition flashcard via Anki provides good immersion for studying.

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Consider a game like Chore Wars where you get points for doing routine activities. Or make studying into a game - flash cards?

It's not going to be as stimulating as a game, but might make the reading/etc more interesting than it is now. And maybe the supplemental motivation will help you develop a longer attention span. I can read for hours if the book is good.

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Games are fun because they're either challenging at the lower levels or have some epic goal at the end. That's why people are willing to 'grind' for thousands of hours with the promise of an epic win at the end.

Making things fun at the low level

Use the Pomodoro technique. When you can't quantify your progress, it gets boring and frustrating because you don't know how much progress you're making. Count how much effort you're putting into studying. You can gamify it by counting the amount of Pomodoros you put into your work/studies each day and trying to reach or exceed a certain number.

Familiarize yourself with the concept of Flow. This is almost necessary for any kind of learning. This is what makes games fun - the challenge is not too hard as to be frustrating and impossible yet not too easy as to be boring/grindy. There are entire articles and other questions on Flow, so look them up.

Making things fun at the higher level

Let's face it, studying to get a good job is not a great motivator. Studying to get good grades or a first class distinction is not motivating either. You need some better goals.

This is exactly why you see a lot of entrepreneurs wake up at 5 AM and sleep at 1 AM, doing something that pays almost nothing for months. Without that higher level vision, they'd be exhausted and give up almost immediately.

This is also why people are willing to stick with a 100 episode long marathon TV series just to see the ending.

One solution is to meditate and learn what you want to accomplish in the long term.

Sadly, most people never find what their higher level purposes are. So a lot of productivity gurus, including the well known GTD method and Robert Greene's Mastery, encourages you to simply stick with doing low level things you enjoy until you find a high level goal which you'll love.

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