On motivation

Lying in bed last night, or morning, I think I discovered one core reason for my ‘procrastination’, laziness, or lack of motivation.

Setting the scene: The current tropical climate in Finland has hindered me from doing pretty much anything. I think it has to do with us being used to endure cold. Whenever I start to do something advanced or strenuous, like move about, my brain is forcing me to calm down so I won’t overheat. Even when I get excited, I feel my innards boiling. The air in my apartment is saturated with humidity, so my body cannot cool itself by sweating. Probably one of the most difficult things in the universe is to create coldness. You just have to create a lack of heat by moving it elsewhere, and even then you’re creating heat, otherwise uncle Newton gets upset.

But fleeing inside my school’s AC’d classroom hasn’t helped much. Now one core function of motivation, getting things done, is to have a designated location for it. An office, shed, your desk, bench, lathe, your tools. It’s rooted deep, a bit like conditioning; when you enter the place, you shift gears in your head and you just start to work. The problem of feeling unmotivated persists, because the classroom isn’t mine. I don’t have my tools or my environment. The problem also persists home, because that’s a place you make cozy for yourself. That’s your place for relaxing. That’s why people have home offices or studies, and don’t do work on their sofas.

The notion of a workplace is connected to a periodical rhythm, which also turns out to be a pretty rooted-in concept in our functionality. You have this time for that, then you do those things, you eat inbetween, and later you do XYZ. Your brain optimizes them into routines when possible, and you start to feel good carrying them out. The XYZ, apart from your duties, is obviously your basic mental needs. Social interaction, happiness, solitude, relaxation.

To the point: Yes, it’s the web and IRC. But not how you think it is.

I’ve seen countless times people go on “strikes” from IRC or IM’s, and I’ve never actually understood its benefit. To me it felt like self-deception; you’re having interaction because you need it, not because it’s dragging you in against your will. They start to loathe or belittle social media to invent excuses to stay away from it, because their need for it scares them. But yes, the abstinence does motivate to look for better options.

I’m probably quite liberal thinking that interaction is interaction, speaking audibly or textually has as much impact on your (existing) relations as the other. Text does have a damn low bandwidth carrying the bulk of our communication compared to face-to-face, but I’ve never felt the need to belittle textual interaction.
Now though, the thing I discovered, is that in my moderate lack of personal interaction, I’m more dependent on the small dose IRC provides.

It’s quite simple, really. Take a generic student; his or her day is partly filled with social interaction in school, work and friends. Let’s measure this dose between 8-12. Her daily need is 10, so after a few days of twelves she’ll withdraw a bit from feeling tired, and keep the day to herself.
If we take into consideration the low bandwidth of textual interaction, a daily dose from IM’s is for instance 7. You keep filling that gap constantly, because you don’t want to feel lonely. We even have a very strong need for just outputting information.

Simply said, the struggle for social fulfilment is filling your days, if you won’t get a healthy overdose of it. Afterwards you can set your mind on getting things done, because you’ve satisfied the more pressing needs.

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