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Kurtiss Frost
Kurtiss Frost

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Fighting with motivation

I haven't posted in a while or really done anything tech related in a few....months? Weeks? Honestly, it's been so long that I have no idea how long it's been.

Here lately, I have been struggling with motivation issues. I haven't felt like doing anything productive. I haven't been studying web development, or trying to get any certs or any of the many other things I have set out to learn about. Not even just tech related things. I haven't tinkered with my Linux coding environment, created any graphics, edited a video, or really anything creative.

Here lately, I have just been struggling with motivation to do anything. I work 40 hours a week and when I get home I wind up just goofing off or just going straight to bed.

Last year I wrote an article about how I wanted to increase my productivity in that article, I vaguely mention that I hadn't felt like marking things off of my to do list. This is a little more serious than that. Here recently, I haven't felt like doing anything related to tech.

I'm not 100% sure why either. Part of it could be my ADHD. Part of it could be that maybe I am just burnt out and need a break? There are a multitude of things that it could be. I'm just not really sure how I should tackle this. On the one hand, I could just bite the bullet and just do it, regardless of how I feel about it but, I feel like that would yield negative results in the long run.

I feel like taking a break could be good for me to recharge my batteries and help me get re-motivated when I finally pick up where I left off in my studies. My only thing is, sometimes when I take breaks from doing things like that, sometimes it takes me a long time to get back on topic, if I ever do, and I don't want that to happen with web development.

How do you handle lack of motivation?

Like the title says, how do you handle it when you find yourself lacking motivation to do something? Do you take a break? Power through?

Do you have any tips or advice? Struggling with your own lack of motivation? I wanted to open this topic for discussion and pick the community's brain a little and see what your thoughts on this were.

Top comments (9)

pierrewahlberg profile image
Pierre Vahlberg

Focus on preparing your body to follow a programme to get you through. Hear me out here.

Food, sleep and exercise. The three main pillars of health (and equally important!). Do these three to have something to stand on, a foundation.

Itll just take a week to feel different but DONT budge on it! Dont sit up late, dont sleep in, dont skip meals, dont skip walks or gym shifts. Its how your brain and body are made to function and closely linked to depression, de facto.

Now, having this foundation, meditation or "noise reduction" which means plain out gtf away from social media, tvs and devices, for 10-60 minutes at a time, will give your brain time to process shit that stresses you out. Do it. Let it wander.

Tips, comnine a 45 min walk with no phone/music/device to disturb ans boom, two birds one stone.

So now you have a foundation of physical and mental health and you are reducing your mental noise by letting your brain process things it wants to process.

Now, you can get to work.

Analyze what you want to do. Set up the large goal, try not to over achieve cause letting yourself down breaks your self trust and self esteem so aim lower and increase as you go.

Set up a goal, break it down to partial goals or simply wtf you need to do. Like, spend 30min every thursday evening on writing article ideas. Spend 2h every saturday to write articles. Every 1st of month you assess your goals and pivot, like do you wanna do more, less, something else etc.

since you have all the fundamentals in place, you will suddenly have the energy to follow your plan that is unclear or uncertain. Getting results is aaaalll about being consistent to a plan and having focus.

You have all it takes. Recipe for success strucured for a programmer. Now, execute!

pierrewahlberg profile image
Pierre Vahlberg

Oh and by the way, nobody ever created anything substantial from motivation. You have to set goals, visualize, strive and work for them. You think elon musk or bill gates have had all fun and motivated professional years? ;) motivation should be a forbidden term.

Your dreams make up your visions and your strive sets you on a path that only hard, designated work can get you to. Ask anyone who ran a good business, won a race, invented something great, was a bodybuilder or achieved something extraordinary. You gotta try, fail, get back up, power through, learn, pivot, reevaluate and repeat 🙌

sureisfun profile image
Barry Melton

As someone who has also struggled with motivation (and is also afflicted with ADHD), here are some of the tips I've learned over the years:

There's a bill-paying strategy that works for me. The short version is to take a small amount of money (let's say $20) and apply it to your smallest outstanding bill, like an old credit card or something. Take that $20 and apply it above the minimum payment until that credit card bill is paid off. Then you take the $20 and what you were paying on the credit card bill and apply those to your next smallest outstanding bill.

The idea is that you accumulate small wins until you get bigger wins. If the minimum payment on that credit card is $10, and you add $20, it gets paid down faster. Then you have $30 to add extra to the next bill. I do a version of this when I'm feeling unmotivated -- cherry pick a small win. If it isn't tech, or work, at least let it be something productive: Make the bed, or do the dishes. These things will be "wins" and your body will generally thrive on them. Motivation begets motivation, and even if it doesn't, at least you have a clean bed later, right?

What often strikes me is that I'm motivated to do something, but maybe not the task that I'm supposed to be doing. If there's another small task that I can get a quick win on, then I knock that one down. Oh look, an open ticket for a typo on the homepage? Bang. Done. What next?!

Past that, if you're feeling burnt out, you probably are. If you don't want to sit at your computer to tinker, take a hike, walk the dog, or get away. Whenever my employees are feeling this way, I tell them to take a week vacation. In the best case, that's a vacation where they're totally unplugged. YMMV, but for me, a week backpacking or camping recharges my brain-battery in a way that almost nothing else does, but it doesn't have to be that.

If you're still feeling burnt out when you get back, maybe consider if it's your job that's burning you out or if it's just a phase you're working through. If it's the job, then what is it about the job? If there's something about the job that's wearing you down, can it be fixed? If it can't be fixed, can it be mitigated? If it can't be mitigated, can it be isolated? If none of the above, consider switching jobs.

I am 100% a "sing for my supper" kind of worker. I struggle to find work-life balance if I know that there are work tasks that can be done, but some days I don't want to log in at all. Despite that, I know that your long term well being is more important to you (and should usually be more important to your employer/manager) than the TPS report due on Friday. If that doesn't feel true to you, then find somewhere it does. If the ennui is intrinsic, then look for quick wins to motivate, or embrace demotivation and take a walk, hit a day spa, or whatever you can.

rohit20001221 profile image

i am not sure but i think there is something other than software development which is distracting you a lot and deep within your heart you might be feeling guilt for not doing any web development its just that you are trying to be a perfectionist and it is causing burnout and bro whatever that other thing is you need to take a break from it

let me share my expirence i have started trading while doing my job since the markets were open during office i just stopped focusing on my job i started to do my work one day before my deadlines and started doing over trading in the begning i got some profits but as time progressed i started making losses and even started to feel very huge guilt for not focusing on my job and on day i had wiped out my complete captial and after that i was very dipressed and during that time my friends helped me cope with that phase and once i stopped trading every thing started to settle down slowly i started to regain my lost motivation and found more enjoyment doing web dev projects and i found even more joy sharing my web dev expirences using blogs

so i suggest you if there is anything other that webdev thats bothering you just take a break from it i know its hard but with practise things become easy just think very deeply you might find somthing thats causing you an issue

there is nothing as motivation if you want to be happy just enjoy the process of doing the coding instead of focusing on the end goal

danbailey profile image
Dan Bailey

It doesn't sound like you're unmotivated -- it sounds like you've developed bad habits and that those are dragging you down. Goofing off, going to bed early, these are things that are going to get in the way of you moving forward and being better. Forming good habits is going to provide you with the base to start improving and getting better -- we don't get to our goals via motivation or wishful thinking. We get there because we have a solid foundation of good habits that get us to where we need to be. (If it sounds like I'm quoting from the book Atomic Habits, it's because I am.)

What I've done is spend the time to decide who I want to be (not setting specific goals), and then setting up the habits that I need to do every day to get there. Learning? I've got a shit-ton of Udemy coursework, and I make a point to get through at least an hour of it per day. (That said, if I have the occasional day where I can only spend 10 minutes, I still spend the 10 minutes rather than moving on to something else). This has done wonders and I feel like I've learned more in the last year than I have in the last ten.

You got this, dude. Attack the problem from the bottom up, rather from the top down.

mickmelon profile image

I'm sorry to hear that you're feeling demotivated lately. I understand the struggles of trying to find the balance between working full-time and working on side projects (or just general skills improvement in your free time).

It's definitely very important to not force yourself to do something after you've finished work just because you feel you have to. Don't feel guilty about not doing anything. I think you're right in that you may be a little burned out, so I agree that taking a break is a great idea to recharge your batteries. I would also consider talking to a doctor, because you mention some things that may be signs of depression.

I'm not sure if you've heard of the The Pomodoro Technique, but it might be worth checking out. In summary, you manage your time with frequent short breaks. I found this helpful in staying focused when I was studying at university. However, when working on programming problems, it may not be so helpful because 25 minutes (the length of one "pomodoro") may only be just enough time to just get into the problem. However, I've found that sometimes just getting started can be the difficult part, so after the 25 minutes are up, you may actually decide to just keep going for a little longer.

Take care of yourself, mate. Maybe go for a walk while listening to some podcast. Go on holiday somewhere nice, even if it's just for a weekend in another city.

marissab profile image
Marissa B

I take breaks and have seasonal hobbies. Sometimes when work is being a grind I straight up don't want to sit at my computer desk any longer than needed in a given day.

declanmidd profile image
Declan Middleton

Theres only two options in life.
Make progress or Make excuses.

declanmidd profile image
Declan Middleton

never give up.