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Sorry if the title of the question is a little unclear, but I have found that in general I am motivated to make changes (minor or major) in my life (or just in general "get things done"), but that the motivation to actually make the change is only strong when I'm not able to make the change.

Examples should make this more clear:

I'm at work now, procrastinating by writing this. I'm thinking about how my closet is a mess and how I have to hang a new shelf in the kitchen. Right now I really want to do these things, and I find it difficult to focus on my work.

In a few hours I'll be heading home, thinking about the closet and shelf, but once I get there, doing those activities will no longer seem "fun" (yes, while I'm thinking about them at work they actually do feel like they'd be fun). I will then procrastinate at home, check my email, etc. - and maybe spent a total of 20 minutes on the closet and not touch the shelf - i.e. a tiny fraction of what I could have accomplished. However, I may be thinking about work, and all of a sudden, the work that seemed awful at 3pm is now more appealing. Sometimes I'll actually log on and do a little, but once I get started, I get bored with that.

So basically when I'm at work, I'm making lists of things to do around the house - and when I'm at home, I'm thinking about things that I can do at work. And I feel like it's this never-ending spiral where very little actually gets done.

I don't know if this is just a standard case of the grass being greener on the other side, or if there's something more specific at work with respect to motivation, concentration, etc. Is this common, and/or is there anything I can do about it? If I was just able to do my work at work, and the home stuff at home, I'd be many, many more times productive!

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Are you sure you really want to do these things and that's distracting you from work, or is it more that you just don't want to do work so your mind tries to find other things to think about? – weronika Aug 21 '11 at 23:57
That was kind of what I was getting at - maybe it's really just wanting to do something other than work. But I'm not sure - because even when I'm doing other fun things (out with friends, traveling, etc.) I find myself thinking about home improvements, for example. So I think I do want to do these things (and at the least, they are mostly things that should get done). – Jer Aug 22 '11 at 14:17
That's very strange... I'd say maybe you just have too many things hanging over your head, but you said those things actually seem like they'd be fun when you're thinking about them - so I really have no idea what's going on. I hope someone else will! – weronika Aug 23 '11 at 2:01

Sounds like you are wanting to do something, but when faced with it, it may seem too daunting - too large or intimidating to actually do. Perhaps you need to break the project down into smaller tasks. Then possibly creaet a reward for yourself. Example, cleaning the kitchen may be too large. Maybe just choose a drawer or a countertop. Maybe cleaning the closet is too big, just skim through the rail and throw out anything that's frayed, or maybe do the hanger trick - set all hangers one way today. Then when you use something, reverse the hanger. After a month, throw away or hide away whatever you haven't worn. Basically break the project up and do something small to get started.

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This is just a learning experience - when you first start you may need to use the fact you seem to want to carry out distraction activities to be a trigger. When you spot it, deliberately commence the activity that you should be doing.

One way to start this can be as simple as using that list (for example, the list of tasks for the house that you wrote while at work) as soon as you get home and completing the first one before you let yourself do anything else.

As an example, when I get home I usually put a wash on, empty the tumble dryer and fold the dry clothes. I don't enjoy doing it, but getting it done at that point means I don't need to think about it any more that night.

It gets easier the more you do it, but there are any number of self motivation techniques to help you carry out the boring tasks without letting them get to you.

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Thanks - using that list is a good idea (ironically I find that I often sit at work writing the list, and then leave it there on my desk). I may also just make a google spreadsheet for it so I can easily edit it anywhere. – Jer Aug 19 '11 at 15:29

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