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My GTD Log, seeking for help

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  • My GTD Log, seeking for help

    it's painful that i have spend nearly 3 years that i still haven't start with my thesis, i have tried to find out the reason, and in fact i know the reasons which may led me to the perplexed situation. I have lots of interests which may distract me all the times. it's a bit difficult for me to stay focused on the research project, especially those vain and useless ones.

    Every time i start to work in front of my computer, it's routine i may start to read some news which are recommended by the search portal, at first i may read some pieces of news which are related my research domain, but some times there are some really attractive topic which may interests me, for example history, current events, also some trivial news about the super stars, many many times, i am about to read them for only about 30 minutes, but in fact i may spend more than 6 hours on it, after that i would find that nothing has been done the whole day, or i have only did very few things in such a long time, then i would be frustrated. This happens times and times again, sometimes i really hate myself.

    Maybe i am just in the natural way in seeking for comfort, and don't like the feeling to stay in uncomfortable zone.

    Now i 'd like to make a log of my life here, and would update this thread when i think i need to make a log.
    Hope i can discuss with guys who may have similar problem as me on this forum, and i would be very appreciate if i could receive some suggestions from you

  • #2
    Procrastination and lack of motivation etc are very common problems, but not something that can be cured by methodology such as GTD (possibly mitigated a bit, because it helps you see your intentions clearer, but not cured).

    I am no psychologist, but I believe the real causes are to be found in factors beyond the control of your conscious analysis. In your case, you seem to have decided, analytically and most likely quite correctly, that doing the thesis is good for you, so you have decided you should do it. But you have to face up to the fact that it is not the analyst in you who is the boss.

    I can teach you a very ugly trick, that seems to work for lots of people, including me, but the method is very unpleasant. The whole idea is that for many people it is relatively easy (for the analyst inside) to forbid you to do things, but virtually impossible (for the analyst inside) to get your ass moving and enthuse you to do something. So here is the solution - forbid yourself into action.

    1) Allow yourself to breathe, eat all such things, in normal measures
    2) Allow yourself to work on the horrible task, should you want to
    3) Allow yourself to get absolutely nothing done at all, should you prefer that
    4) Forbid yourself to actually do any other thing than those
    5) Forbid yourself to think about, or even let your mind drift to, any other thing

    The result is that you will stare empty-headed into empty air until you are so sick with boredom that your horrible task seems like a pleasant escape.

    But usually I do not bother. I take the easy way out. I do what I feel like, and face the consequences. Sometimes I notice that I get back on the intended track out of my free will at some stage, and sometimes I don't. I have no way of knowing whether this was good or bad. In retrospect, I honestly cannot say that my "instinct" makes worse or better choices than my intellect recommends me to. I really do not know. They can both seem a bit crippled sometimes. But don't let your intellect bully you


    • #3
      There are lots of techniques that can be helpful.

      Sometimes it's a matter of very small things: when you get distracted by something on the computer, it can happen in a fraction of a second and involve very little effort or thought or energy. Turning that little action in a different direction can be like turning the course of a tiny trickle of water which can eventually grow into a huge river, down one side of the mountain rather than the other.

      I had something I wanted to spend more time on when I use the computer at home. I made myself a rule that I have to do a bit of work on it every time I use the computer. I also positioned the window for that application at the edge of the computer screen so that there's always a little bit of it showing peeking out from behind the edge of my browser which I have sized to not quite fill the whole screen. When I start up the computer, one application might start up a few seconds before another, and those few seconds can contribute to what I end up spending time on. Being able to see it makes it much easier to remember to switch tasks. Little things can make a big difference.

      You could set a timer, maybe every 10 or 30 minutes, and when it goes off stand up, stretch and ask yourself "what am I working on? Am I doing what I want to be doing?" You might try the Pomodoro technique.

      Don't be hard on yourself. Do reward yourself for doing small amounts of work, or for doing a little better than the day before.

      You could make rules for yourself. Sometimes it's good not to make them too strict: leave room for playing, too. On the other hand, sometimes staying off distracting computer stuff completely is easier than letting yourself do a bit of it and trying to limit it.

      You could aim to spend half an hour only on the thesis, then have a reward (e.g. something nice to eat), then after that do other stuff on the computer.

      You could use one computer in one room only for your thesis, and a different computer in a different room (or the same computer, moved to a different room or turned around in a different direction) for everything else.

      You could have an alarm go off at random times, and give yourself a reward if you're working on the thesis when the alarm goes off. (A very quick little reward, then back to the thesis; the reward could be opening a book to look at a beautiful picture, or turning over a rainmaker to make a nice sound. If you've chosen it as a reward, it feels like a reward.)

      "Eat that frog!" is a book that can help with overcoming procrastination. Other good books include "Willpower" by Baumeister and Tierney (but the first half can be a bit discouraging), and "The Power of Habit" by Charles DuHigg.


      • #4
        You can also get someone to act as a coach. It could be someone you know, or someone who does that
        professionally. Or you could use this forum or a forum such as the Procrastinators Anonymous website:
        you can post a goal such as "in the next half-hour I plan to do A, B and C" and then half an hour later
        post whether you did or not. Try to be realistic about what you can reasonably expect yourself to get done.

        When you stop playing around on the computer, be nice to yourself, especially for the first few seconds.
        You can say "Yay! I got off the computer!", not criticize yourself for how long you were on. One of the
        difficulties in ending a session of distraction on the computer is not wanting to go through those first
        few seconds of realizing how late the time is.

        I like having a face clock easily within view, near the computer screen. A computer clock as a program on
        the computer screen doesn't seem as real somehow.

        I like to do some kinds of thinking with a piece of paper, off the computer.

        Using the computer is a bit like reading a book. Well, the computer can be a lot more distracting and difficult to stop. But here's' what I do with reading: I choose where I'm going to stop, and cover the first few words of the next paragraph with a stick-note. This makes a huge difference. I don't feel any big battle of will taking place in my mind. The two sides of the battle are just starting to look up and think about maybe picking up their weapons when the battle is already over. If there's a stick-note, I almost always stop reading there, with little or no apparent effort. If there isn't, I usually kindof accidentally see the next few words of the next paragraph and pretty soon I'm thinking I might as well read the whole paragraph and pretty soon half an hour has gone by and I'm still reading.

        Doing a bit of physical exercise, e.g. pacing back and forth a few times now and then as a break from the computer, can help you concentrate and have more control. A real, full aerobic workout is supposed to help you concentrate for the following 4 hours.


        • #5
          Be yourself.

          Originally posted by gtdlog View Post
          Maybe i am just in the natural way in seeking for comfort, and don't like the feeling to stay in uncomfortable zone.
          Be yourself. Stay in your comfort zone. Stay away from uncomfortable zones where successful people live...


          • #6
            As has been briefly mentioned, I think you'd find very helpful. It is a group of people who like both you and me have great problems with procrastinating on anything from little tasks to major theses. There are quite a few project logs, including mine, as well as forums and a meeting room where you can find support. And lots of useful ideas and documents

            Last edited by RuthMcT; 09-23-2013, 08:40 AM.


            • #7
              Every time i start to work in front of my computer, it's routine i may start to read some news which are recommended by the search portal
              A really simple thing you can do is turn off the news suggestions. Everything on a computer is designed to vie for your attention (emails, instant messenger, program updates, news readers, adverts, etc) but most of them can be turned off.

              The news suggestions will still be there if you choose to go to them but then at least then it's an active choice.


              • #8
                First, know that you are not alone in this common situation. Many smart, creative, and intelligent persons have been in this very situation. Many are in this forum. I count myself one of them.

                Second, accept the fact that finishing your thesis will require you to work outside of your comfort zone. The process by its very nature will not simply allow you to collect, collate, and communicate all the research you have read or conducted. You must look hard at this morass of datum and find some logical next course of inquiry that only you could have charted. It is hard, it may not come quickly. It will not come at all if you do nothing and stay in your comfort zone.

                Thirdly, understand that your blog of the exploration of GTD will simply be a distraction and divert time and energy from the second point. However GTD like any other method will be useful only if they help you to learn how to eat a whale (one bite at a time). GTD may be a good tool to allow you to break the task of the thesis into manageable tasks. GTD may allow you to plan your day and allow you to do those quiotidien activities that keep you sane, happy, and a whole person. However when you have the block of time freed up and the task is: "Write 10 pages." GTD will not make that happen, nor will a blog, nor will chatting with all these nice people here.

                I believe what you need is someone/something else to help you to be accountable. That person may be the kindly committee member, a classmate, etc. Find that person, commit to them and honor your commitments to them by using the GTD workflow to help juggle all those balls that daily life requires and distracts you from your thesis.

                Go ahead and ask away about how to practice GTD, but do not let this be an excuse for not getting things done.