A month ago, I posted about my attempt to get motivated using tiny fold-up zines to track my evening activities. Here’s how it went.
These things got me back on track
So the big news is that they worked. I don’t know if it was their novelty or their simplicity or their embodied existence in the real world (compared to my usual task list, which is entirely digital), but they managed to keep me on track day-to-day.
My current theory is that the book acts as an open channel of communication between two people, those being:
- My motivated self. This person exists on Saturday evenings and Monday mornings, looking toward the week ahead with a view toward action and achievement. They know what they want and they know how to get it. My motivated self would rather read a constructive book than watch a TV show, and would easily stay up until 11:00pm programming or writing because “they lost track of time”.
- My hedonistic self. This person exists every evening of the week, and also for all of the weekend post-Saturday lunchtime, trying to eke moment-to-moment satisfaction out of everything. While they may acknowledge the benefit of long-term projects or personally-motivated work1, they’re also not too keen to really put much effort in. They’d much rather watch one more youtube video about railways if you don’t mind.
By writing these little per-evening goals, I’m forcing myself into my motivated persona, who basically gets to act as an accountability partner to my hedonistic self. Plus it’s a lot easier to make my future self do work, than to make myself do work now. Then, when my hedonistic self sits down for an evening, they know exactly which part of the grand plan they’re supposed to get done. We’re effectively removing the barrier to work.
But they’re not 100% effective
I’ll still hit evenings where I’m not just a bit tired, but exhausted. Sometimes I’ll have whole weeks like that. There’s no mechanism in this system to account for this, so the goals need to be applied with compassion. Some weeks you’ll complete two of your three goals. Some weeks you’ll get zero. That’s how life goes.
Next step: linking up
The one thing the current system doesn’t do, is link to goals at a higher level than the week-to-week. I’ve been trialling a kind of personal system of OKRs, on-and-off, for the past six months, and it would be great if these weekly goals linked straight into those. You can do that manually, of course, but it’s always good to have a reminder. Which is why the next iteration of these little booklets - typed up and printed out - has a space for you to remind yourself what you want to achieve in the big picture, not just what you need to do each week:
Which, incidencally, means you can download them right now. You should know what to do with these by now.
That is, work done for your own benefit, instead of work you do for a paycheck. ↩
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