Productivity and Motivation

It’s amazing how much your motivation can improve as your productivity goes up. Of course, it’s another reason that motivation is so hard to get. You can’t get motivated if nothing is getting done, and it’s harder to get things done without motivation. Ah, the wonderful circle of motivation and productivity.

I find my productivity ebbs and flows. There seem to be too many factors at play (although motivation is a large one). Do I have deadlines? A zillion errands to do? Am I tired? Or stressed out? Am I over-scheduled (or under-scheduled)? What’s the weather like? Am I feeling grounded (or upset over something)?

Interestingly, that when I do get motivated/productive (which, for me, might as well be synonymous) I’m usually more likely to stick with a task that’s frustrating then I am with one where things are just working. I think it’s because a frustrating task is challenging – it’s something I want to accomplish and get through because it leaves me with a feeling of satisfaction. If things are going easily, it feels like I can just stop and pick it up at a later time without problems (although there usually ends up being problems – mostly how to convince yourself to continue).

I’m at an interesting point in my experimental design process. I’ve got my ethics approval and now just need to finish getting the actual pieces of my experiment together and ready. And I’ve been both very motivated and unmotivated to finish it. There’s a few reasons behind this. 1) If I get it done, I’ll get results and what if they aren’t what I’m hoping for? Which is scary. 2) My supervisor has expressed doubts about a critical part of the experiment that I don’t have control over and is not sure about proceeding until it’s perfect (which I’m doubtful is even possible).

On one hand I’m motivated to continue, because until I get things all put together, I don’t know what it’s going to look like in the end. And I have to keep learning new tricks and solutions to get things to work. It’s exciting and challenging.

On the other hand, I’m scared that I might find out that all of this work is for nothing. I already feel so behind, what if this is just another step backwards? What if we don’t get anything publishable out of this? Of course, thinking of all the “what if” scenarios isn’t a good path to go down, but it can be hard to stop.

So, in the meantime, I’ll continue to try and stay motivated by looking at the new skills I’m developing and taking joy in watching it all come together. And at the same time, I’ll have a couple of fingers crossed that it all works out.


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