Hey fellow Akrasia sufferers. I’m trying to externalize motivation to do certain things and I figured you guys would know lots about it!
The below is a post I wrote for the subreddit r/ADHD (also posted elsewhere). Just to add a bit to that: I’ve tried beeminding several times, but I always end up spending loads of time configuring them as a form of procrastination, and I’m apparently the kind of person who can’t help himself editing past data points in moments of unclear thinking. So I mostly need beeminder for keeping the back-end extremely simple and for taking care of financial punishment.
Any and all advice appreciated! Apologize in advance for the long text below.
TL;DR: I want to create a system of external motivation to keep my life together, and I need outside help as well as actual financial punishment to make sure I don’t waste another year of my life. This below is what I’m imagining, but I really want to hear any thoughts and methods you guys have relevant to the topic!
1: About me
I’m what in the US would be ADHD-PI. I am medicated and can focus well; my problem now is with intrinsic motivation (which I believe is due to unfortunate emotional patterns). I can do stuff for others (work, social) but not for myself (study, sleep, exercise, self-care in general).
I’ve spent ages testing out productivity systems, app-locks and web-filters to force myself into productivity, but it always ends up becoming a battle against myself to make everything fail-safe. I always end up still doing nothing because (as I’ve come to believe) motivation still isn’t coming from within.
2: What am I looking for?
I need a self-discipline system which will get me through school (I’ll function much better in a workplace). I agreed with my psychiatrist that it’s time (one year after diagnosis) to realize that I can’t hack myself into being productive, and I need to ask people around me for help in some very basic and, frankly, kind of embarassing ways.
Baiscally what I ideally need is some kind of parent or coach who constantly peeks over my shoulder and makes sure I’m not goofing off. Of course here in my 20’s no such parent is around, so I’ll have to create one for myself.
I do have an older brother who isn’t ADHD but understands and relates to what I’m going through. He lives closeby and we see each other regularly. My plan is to create a system where I decide beforehand what I need to do and I do it by myself, BUT I have to document that I’ve actually done it, otherwise he will impose some kind of consequence (I’m thinking financial).
3: My own ideas
My own setup-idea for creating external motivation with outside help is the following. It uses beeminder and some simple data-tools to keep me on track.
- I commit to three goals: Studying X units of reading/assignments per day/week; sleeping on avg. at least 6 hrs per night; exercising at least twice a week.
- Every night, I’ll fill out a simple Google Forms asking me how I’ve done throughout the day. My brother has access to these daily answers.
- At some random interval, say twice a week, my brother will check some day’s Form and see whether I’ve actually documented that I’ve done shit. If I have, that’s all he needs to do.
- If for some reason I haven’t actually done shit that I’ve said I would, he’ll go to my beeminder goal and edit the data points which correponds to that day. Beeminder will then make sure that I’m charged some small dollar amount (the amount and degree of buffer is definable by the user). All of this should take him less than ten minutes.
I plan on using Anki and attaching my written assignments as proof of study, using “offline time” (RescueTime should do) as a proxy metric for sleep, and Google Timeline to document that I’ve been at the gym. These are all data sources that I don’t know how to fake or edit, and they’ll be easy to check for specific metrics (i.e. hours spent in Anki or cards created per day, time interval with zero RescueTime data, and Google Timelines location).
4: Your ideas
I’m excited to test out the above, but I’m also really eager to hear what you guys think, and if you have any other ideas for creating a system of accountability for yourself that actually carries meaning for you and has no obvious way of cheating.
Final notes: I’ve tried to stick to the formatting guidelines to make my wall of text manageable, if anything could be easier to read please let me know! Also, I’ll probably post this at the beeminder.com forum and at r/getdisciplined, r/GetMotivated, and/or r/productivity.
Edit2: Links and subreddit-names