Saturday, November 21, 2009

Two rules for my two weeks rule.

My two weeks rule: No matter what, if I decide to start working on any project or try to follow a strict plan, in about two weeks I will have already lost all my motivation and probably forget about it.

Two rules for my two weeks rule:

  • When there is an optimistic feeling during the first days I start working on something that it will go well, it is always accompanied by another ironic feeling that the two weeks rule will probably prove to be true once again. My inner cynic wakes up and laughs at me as he knows the future.

  • When the point is reached where my glorious plans are scrutinized by the two weeks rule of motivation, it's usually the end. I have that fear at the time that this point is not just a break. It is the point of no return. It is when your project stays on the shelves for a year or two.

Recently I have just noticed how true and precise my personal rule is! (Of course it's a rule applying to me, others might have the one month or even three days rule :)

Case one, when I started studying the first days were very enthusiastic and I was highly motivated but now things are boring. Of course, there is no different way here rather than working on my assignments for the time being, then being demotivated and doing anything else, then back working on them for another one or two weeks. Here, deadlines and obligations fight rule number two and the best worse thing that happens is to work for a week, then do nothing for another week and then repeat the cycle. Usually you start working when the deadline is near and you end up finishing your assignments the very last morning you have to hand in :P

Case two, diet plans. I have started some recently but those where scrutinized yesterday after eleven days of keeping an ok plan (two weeks is the most, usually a week and a half is enough time to break things apart). I suddenly felt the need to go into the supermarket and buy tons of stuff and... chocolate. My only hope here is to not continue the habit for the next days but start a new schedule for one more week. Because usually on diets I was either frustrated or kept the bad habit for a month or even a year after the two weeks.

And those two cases are the things that you are obliged to do. You have to hand in assignments no matter what and you have to take care of your health before it is too late. Even if the deadline is always far away for the second case :P. What about the things that you want to do but you don't have to do? I kept thinking on my demomaking hobby. It's crazy but it's still two weeks ruling here. I remember the biggest cases when I wanted to work on a big demo and thought that if I work hard for a month or two I could have something good. I even thought that if I worked only two hours per day for three months or a little more I could still reach that plan. There are some of my demos that theoritically they might have taken six months or a year (like led blur on the GP32) but the reality is that all those months I was experimenting with new effects or hardware and it was usually sparse like one evening of work per week and only when the deadline was near I started working intensively one or two weeks near the end. In my latest demo (Quantum Retrofuture), I decided to break the rule and work one and a half month before the deadline, not intensively but steadily. I started working for maybe one week, then lost the motivation for two weeks, then worked for two three days, then I had less than a week near the deadline. It's funny how precisely the rule works and you can never work steadily (even not so intensively but only at a stable pace) for a period more than two weeks!

It works so perfectly that I love it! Even if it always manages to scrutinize my plans :P

p.s. Solution? Maybe minimize the burn out period (it shouldn't be two weeks off after one week of work but maybe 1-3 days of break would be ok) yet let yourself take some rest without thinking about. Also don't be disappointed and never quit. Especially when it's a very important projects (like studies or personal health, demos can go screw themselves at the moment ;).

p.p.s. I was also going to write about the single day miraculous yet fading idea rule and then the near deadline rule which is obvious yet bugging me right now :P


nitro2k01 said...

My rule is only 1 day long. I know that if I don't finish a project within my attention span and instead go to sleep I can't get it into my head again. (except maybe if I get a spark again) I've stayed many nights first optimistic, then losing speed, procrastination loop begins, and at last I'm just feeling desperate. And sure enough, the next day I usually can't continue the project. I keep hoping for a few days and then I give up. And then I get all nervy about the big pile of projects that will never see the light of the day.

That's depressing enough when doing my own projects, but it's worse when doing commissioned work. Which is what I'm struggling with now. First I was super positive and came up with solutions to his problems, then the attention span ended and he's mad all the time that I'm not delivering, and I obviously don't get paid. I wonder if this will ever end for me. Maybe if I quit caffeine and sugar completely, try to sleep strictly in the nights and run a lap every morning. But then again I'm afraid I won't get the focused periods either. And that I won't be able to keep that strict schedule in the first place.

Optimus said...

Ah man, that sucks!

If I am motivated only for one day, that depends on the project. Usually when I have a paying work to do, I can work for weeks. Only in the spontaneous projects of one day inspiration I may start something and then forget it.

I sometimes am trying to answer to the question "Why we can't do the things that we want to do?" and I can't find an answer that I like. The PHD comics guy said something, which is "Because we don't want to". Which is funny but then it doesn't solve the problem :P

Except if we decide that maybe we don't want to work on anything and just play games or do something else. Which is depressing though..

Now I had to finish a math assignment and I discovered that the rule applies. I really don't want to solve math assignments! The fact that I am procrastinating has a good reason here. It's boring and without purpose.. :P

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