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I am very curious. I can spend days on stackexchange, wikipedia, coursera, plenty of tutorials. I often start projects with very big ideas in mind, but don't really do anything concrete. There are nearly no scientific/technical subjects I can understand that I do not find very interesting.

I just can't finish anything if I'm not at work (I'm a C++ programmer). I get stressed easily. And I am highly productive when stressed. I even asked my boss to give me deadlines and to be an ass about it. While at work, I code nice things, which turn out to work fine and are easy to use enough for end users. But when I start personal projects, when I have the choice of doing something else, I can't keep very long at any task, I can't finish any project.

Any ideas or tricks?


I've tried (3) without any success with my wife. She'd rather have me chatting and snuggling with her. Other than my wife people won't care.

(1) is great, but it is easier to find someone for jogging than for doing "C++ quantitative finance" programming :)

(2) looks like a very nice idea. I take it as an answer :)

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1 Answer 1

up vote 7 down vote accepted

It sounds like you need to trick yourself into being accountable. Possible ways:

  1. Find a "buddy" to keep each other on track. (People often suggest this for exercise.)
  2. Commit to posting an update on your progress weekly on Twitter or Facebook. That way, you will feel like someone will know if you didn't do it.
  3. Ask someone to remind you. I've actually done a variant of this one. Normally, it isn't a problem for me. But a couple times (in a decade), there were things I was having trouble completing. I asked a peer to send me an email telling me to do it. Then I looked at that email which reminded me I'd be embarrassed if I didn't complete that task.
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Highly biased response here but Beeminder brilliantly incorporates all 3 of your suggestions. Even #1 if you're willing to pay for that as a premium feature (Beeminder's Beekeeper program at $200/month), but I think normally the graphs and reminders and the monetary commitment device suffice. –  dreeves Jan 28 at 22:34

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