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Procrastination?


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#1 aLurker

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Posted 26 June 2010 - 04:34 PM


I've read a lot of psychology and self-help about procrastination but I've been unable to find good information regarding the difference in brain chemistry between chronic procrastinators such as myself and normal/driven people. For instance; dopamine reuptake inhibitors seem to increase motivation and decrease procrastination in some people which makes it somewhat relevant but this is probably just a small piece of a bigger puzzle.

I'm aware that procrastination can be treated by self-help methods and psychology but I've been trying that route for some time now without any real improvement. To make a questionable analogy; it's kind of like telling a kid with ADHD to meditate to improve his concentration, sure it works but there are substances which can help too, and perhaps he needs medication to even get to the point where he can sit still and meditate. Sure, procrastination isn't technically a medical condition but it's still a huge problem for us who suffer from it so please keep the Nike-slogan quotations to a minimum.

So...
Any information about how brain chemistry relates to procrastination?
Any supplements/nootropics/drugs which has helped you specifically with procrastination?

#2 Ginnungagap

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Posted 26 June 2010 - 05:57 PM

Typical ADD/ADHD medications would be helpful, I'm guessing, though I never tried them, 'cause, I know I would develop an addiction pretty fast if I would find them helpful. FWIW, other stimulants, such as caffeine, theobromine, ephedrine do a very good job keeping me awake, but don't motivate me at all. High doses only get me nervous. (Though I'm reading and hearing all the time strong, black coffee helps most people; me, it only gives me jitters).

My former psychiatrist prescribed me (after I told him I suffer from low energy, low mood and insomnia (the latter two because I felt very guilty for not doing anything all day long)) SSRIs and later TCAs, but they only made matters worse, and I suffered most side effects.
Cognitive behavioral therapy and hypnotherapy were of some help, though I only 'get' most things they told me now (~2 years later). It helps if you figure out why you are procrastinating, and on what tasks. And the difference between feelings you have about stuff you do and stuff you don't.

Nootropics and herbs I tried: Piracetam (helped me with concentration, but not motivation), different forms of choline (didnt do anything), ashwaghanda(sp?) (didnt do anything), rhodiola rosea (helped the first few days, then stopped working), ginseng (nothing), tyrosine and phenylalanine (nothing at low doses, but I managed to get a panic attack at a high dose on an empty stomache), ginkgo (nothing)..
At the moment I'm taking SJW (standardized for hyperforin) and fish oil, both seem to lift my mood (and SJW cured migraines & allergies, very much to my surprise) but don't help with motivation / procrastination.

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#3 winston

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Posted 26 June 2010 - 06:20 PM

The more I procranstinate, they more stressed I get, and then I avoid it even more.


The only thing that works well for me is saying no internet/music/weed till I finish what I need to that day.
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#4 kassem23

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Posted 26 June 2010 - 10:03 PM

Low dosage amphetamines help me with motivation. Considering I have ADHD I'm a bit biased, but I believe procrastination to be a "dysfunction" of the prefrontal cortex. If we can't control the distracting stimuli from the rest then we can't concentrate. If we can't concentrate and focus we procrastinate. On the other hand, I believe that procrastination can be changed by postive feedback and analyzing one's thought patterns, i.e. asking oneself: "Why don't I want to do this?" or something else. If it's only a distraction issue - I suppose you should get your attention checked and/or remove all external stimuli that can be distracting. Good luck.

#5 aLurker

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Posted 26 June 2010 - 10:23 PM

I've got focus like a laser this week, ever since I started Piracetam, I might even be overstimulated. This doesn't stop me from procrastinating though. The mechanisms which make low doses of amphetamines work so good for you surely involve biochemistry which helps against procrastination too rather than only aid concentration even though I have no idea how that works; hence this thread.

A comment on Rhodiola, yeah I also found that it helped somewhat with mood, motivation and I got some stuff done. Though the brand I had was somewhat expensive and I've heard that you build a tolerance quite quickly. It is also hard to differentiate what makes it work against procrastination since Rhodiola seems to affect so many aspects of one's biochemistry, it's far from selective.

#6 kassem23

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Posted 27 June 2010 - 10:51 AM

I've got focus like a laser this week, ever since I started Piracetam, I might even be overstimulated. This doesn't stop me from procrastinating though. The mechanisms which make low doses of amphetamines work so good for you surely involve biochemistry which helps against procrastination too rather than only aid concentration even though I have no idea how that works; hence this thread.

A comment on Rhodiola, yeah I also found that it helped somewhat with mood, motivation and I got some stuff done. Though the brand I had was somewhat expensive and I've heard that you build a tolerance quite quickly. It is also hard to differentiate what makes it work against procrastination since Rhodiola seems to affect so many aspects of one's biochemistry, it's far from selective.


Motivational learning perhaps. Perhaps a projection of dopamine from ventral tegmental area to nucleus accumbens, ensuring that you enjoy the process of whatever you are doing. Just a guess.

#7 aLurker

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Posted 27 June 2010 - 01:12 PM

Yes but why don't I get that reaction now then? Was it because of Rhodiola's effects on MAOIs or did in another way balance my levels of dopamine or serotonin or something else entirely?

Whether there is a difference between motivation and not procrastinating is also an interesting question. One is probably more prone to procrastinate when unmotivated but yet lots of people seem to get things done without feeling motivated which leads me to believe there is some kind of subtle difference. I just ran 5 km without feeling motivated at all, though we could chalk that up to habit which is another way to ease procrastination.

#8 winston

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Posted 27 June 2010 - 04:17 PM

I think self control is an important factor. Some people who work hard might naturally be procrastinators but they force themselves to do what they need. Others just feel like doing it and don't have to give it a second thought.

#9 425runner

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Posted 27 June 2010 - 04:34 PM

Low does Adrafinil 150mg the cheap brother of Modafinil, seems to help a little and so does Deprenyl 5mg. I'm dealing with the same problem, went through several therapy sessions and did fairly well but once that stopped I was back to my regular "I'll do it later" self.
It's really...really bad and I wish there was a cure. I've tried various noots, choline, galantamine, etc. but the only thing that worked, although temporarily, is Mucuna Pruriens (40% L-Dopa) powder from BAC and PEA with Rhodiola on an empty stomach. Eating less carbs helps as well.

But like I said...it's all temporary, I get very motivated and get things done after I take those herbs but that's only like 2-4 hours max.

I truly fear that this will be a life long struggle. :|? Any other suggestions from members who overcame procrastination much appreciated.

#10 LIB

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Posted 27 June 2010 - 07:39 PM

Deprenyl can be helpful. As well as your adderall, rits, modafinil ect. But these are harder to get and arguably not as safe as most supplements.

what kind of work are you avoiding?

There's this widget I use 10 + 2, from 43folders.com

its a timer that counts down from 15 min which you work, then you rest for 5, then repeat. You can change the times. Basically just force yourself to work in small chunks, before you know it you'll have your task complete.

#11 aLurker

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Posted 27 June 2010 - 10:26 PM

Deprenyl can be helpful. As well as your adderall, rits, modafinil ect. But these are harder to get and arguably not as safe as most supplements.

what kind of work are you avoiding?

Since you explicitly asked:
I'm avoiding everything I should be doing: both in my career and social life. Maybe it's some kind of fucked up risk aversion although I KNOW from experience that failure doesn't really bother me or hurt me at all, especially compared to the inertia I suffer from now. Though I feel like don't get that much pleasure from success either which leads me to believe that my biochemistry might be off somewhat. For example getting good grades or beautiful women into bed doesn't seem give me the "kick" of accomplishment it should. I feel everything is pretty "meh" and not really worth struggling that much for.

Have you yourself tried any of the mentioned drugs and what were your reactions? Most stims scare me a bit since they might not be considered a long-term solution. I didn't know Modafinil could help with this. I'm seriously considering trying Deprenyl (mainly for motivation but also mood, longevity and concentration) but I question whether a low dose will do a difference when it comes to motivation (I'm thinking somewhere between 1-2 mg per week up to a maximum of 1-2.5mg per day). I'm often a good responder even though I'm prone to side effects but Deprenyl seem to have very few on lower doses. The only people I've heard getting any side effects from Deprenyl on a dose on or below 2.5 mg has done something silly like take PEA or tried some other bad drug combination (feel free to correct me on this issue because I'd like to know). I think I'll discuss the matter with a doctor and see if he has any objections to the prospect, especially objections I might have overlooked or alternative solutions.

#12 aLurker

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Posted 27 June 2010 - 10:35 PM

Other people reading this thread might not be looking for chemical short-cuts like I am and they might find this helpful. It's by "jdog" and from other part of the forum, a good summary of some mental aids to defeat procrastination. Not really entirely relevant to this thread but it might help others since it's very good stuff.

Read some books on procrastination.

Put together a list of goals, then carefully devise how you will achieve them. Remember SMART when putting your goals together: Specific Measurable Attainable Realistic Timely.

Make little signs that remind you of your goals. Put them up at the corners of your bathroom mirror so that you see them every day.

Identify the personality traits necessary to achieve your goals, and work on slowly cultivating them, one at a time. Rome wasn't built in a day. You already identified disipline, now get your ass in gear, and begin integrating it into your life. Take baby-steps, mind you.

You don't need external motivators such as authority figures or friend's putting guilt trips on you. You also don't need the military. Everything you need is right inside that thick head of yours.

If you're lacking motivation, put up posters of role models, and find some intangible purpose to achieve in life. For me, I have a little sister - who I know looks up to me, I have a family who has the highest expectations of me, and I'm also an underdog, due of my past history. All that, for me, gives me motivation to act of my own volition and succeed, by being the best person I can be.

Also, instill a sense of urgency into your life. Internalize the idea that this life you're living, here and now, may be your only one. Once you die, it's game over. With this mentality, you must live your life like it's your last, and live each day as though it were your last. This is your one f'in shot, so give it your best!

Put this quote from Mark Twain up on your bathroom mirror, "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."

Another one by Leonardo Da Vinci, "Like a day spent well brings a night of serene rest, so a life spent well brings a serene death."


Now back to discussing the brain chemistry aspect of procrastination.

#13 thevaughny

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Posted 28 June 2010 - 04:54 PM

I can't help you with supps or medicines or brain chemistry but you might be overthinking the procrastination.

In my experience with procrastination I found that it helps to identify that in a lot of respects procrastination is a result of perfectionism. It sounds odd, but at least in my own case I had a 'fear' or apprehension about finishing a project because as I was approaching it or partially through with it, I pre-judged the result to be imperfect or flawed in some way and it left me unmotivated to see this sub-optimal work through to the end.

I think if you check with yourself and manage the perfectionism aspects that drive this you will be able to accept less than perfection which will allow you to finish what you start or start what you need to do.

In fact, I think worrying about finding the exact brain mechanisms at play and which supps or meds to take for this is a clever way to delay dealing with it.
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#14 aLurker

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Posted 28 June 2010 - 05:42 PM

I can't help you with supps or medicines or brain chemistry but you might be overthinking the procrastination.


I overthink everything. I over analyse most decisions I make, I even read books about intuition to rationalise making more impulsive decisions (which makes it something of a meta-joke). I should really be more impulsive in certain aspects, I also think impulsiveness is somewhat regulated by medication. Many ADHD medications reduce hyperactivity and impulsiveness. (Deprenyl does luckily not seem to do this according to the studies on humans I've read though.)

In my experience with procrastination I found that it helps to identify that in a lot of respects procrastination is a result of perfectionism. It sounds odd, but at least in my own case I had a 'fear' or apprehension about finishing a project because as I was approaching it or partially through with it, I pre-judged the result to be imperfect or flawed in some way and it left me unmotivated to see this sub-optimal work through to the end.

I know, here is the book "Procrastination" which explains this angle of looking at the problem and much more.
As someone who over-analyses everything I know this more than anyone. It hasn't really helped me that much in practise though.

I think if you check with yourself and manage the perfectionism aspects that drive this you will be able to accept less than perfection which will allow you to finish what you start or start what you need to do.

In fact, I think worrying about finding the exact brain mechanisms at play and which supps or meds to take for this is a clever way to delay dealing with it.

Of course I'm delaying dealing with stuff, that is the definition of procrastination! At least this is more productive than watching TV since it might help me somewhat in the long run.

You seem to assume this is the only thing I'm doing to correct my procrastination. I've read lots of books about the subject and tried several different methods to try to cope with it. I'm just looking at all possible things which might help me since I haven't found anything really helpful yet. There are other forums and other books which deal with the more mental aspects of procrastination. I started this thread to investigate what might help within the scope of nootropics/drugs/biochemistry which is directly related to this forum.

#15 FunkOdyssey

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Posted 28 June 2010 - 05:43 PM

I've been meaning to contribute something helpful in this thread but I keep putting it off.
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#16 aLurker

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Posted 28 June 2010 - 05:49 PM

Haha. You can always procrastinate other stuff by contributing to this thread. That's obviously what I'm doing.

#17 health_nutty

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Posted 28 June 2010 - 06:03 PM

I wish I could find something in a pill that would motivate me too. Caffeine seems to work the best for me (but I've tried any of the prescription options).

#18 aLurker

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Posted 28 June 2010 - 06:10 PM

Exercise might help some people too, I often get more done after a run. Although the trap is that you often procrastinate by exercising instead of doing anything useful.

Yeah coffee helps some. But I develop a tolerance, become hyper and crash like Al-Qaeda.

Edited by aLurker, 28 June 2010 - 06:12 PM.


#19 thevaughny

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Posted 28 June 2010 - 06:37 PM

You seem to assume this is the only thing I'm doing to correct my procrastination. I've read lots of books about the subject and tried several different methods to try to cope with it. I'm just looking at all possible things which might help me since I haven't found anything really helpful yet. There are other forums and other books which deal with the more mental aspects of procrastination. I started this thread to investigate what might help within the scope of nootropics/drugs/biochemistry which is directly related to this forum.


It's all the same. You are reading lots of books and trying multiple methods but it's all the same. This is part of being over-analytical. Believe me, I am the same way by my nature.

My job is one in which I am responsible for mathematical based optimization of certain processes and this means I am always looking for the very best way to achieve something and even if other ways work but are sub optimal it drives me nuts. I was an expert level chess player and one of the top HS players in the country in my teen years and Chess is all about optimization and it is a game of complete information and it is hard to respond to a world in which we have to make decisions in a game of incomplete information and uncertainty.

If I go to subway and order a grilled chicken sandwich and the subway employee starts putting toppings on the sandwich and THEN grabs the chicken to stick it in the oven for 60 seconds while I wait rather than using the optimal queuing of heating the chicken first so that can be going while the toppings are going on the sandwich, then I start to have anxiety.

You haven't found anything helpful yet because the only thing that will be helpful will be perfect and it isn't out there. Anything short of that and you will have to keep searching.

#20 aLurker

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Posted 28 June 2010 - 06:52 PM

It sounds like knowing you are a perfectionist doesn't stop you from getting annoyed by imperfection even in situations where it is futile and counter-productive such as when you're buying a sub-optimal sandwich. It is the same with my procrastination, knowing the problem doesn't help that much since it isn't about logical reasoning as much as it is about emotions.

Do you have any constructive suggestions which might help me? Have you had the same problem and overcome it somehow?

#21 aLurker

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Posted 28 June 2010 - 06:58 PM

You haven't found anything helpful yet because the only thing that will be helpful will be perfect and it isn't out there. Anything short of that and you will have to keep searching.


And that remark is just silly. I've tried many methods which claims to be helpful against procrastination without them being perfect. I'm considering drugs here ffs, all of them have side effects and are far from perfect, yet I'm willing to try them if they help me at all to get things done. Even to get things done in a mediocre fashion, that would be better than not completing the tasks I want to do.
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#22 thevaughny

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Posted 28 June 2010 - 08:59 PM

You haven't found anything helpful yet because the only thing that will be helpful will be perfect and it isn't out there. Anything short of that and you will have to keep searching.


And that remark is just silly. I've tried many methods which claims to be helpful against procrastination without them being perfect. I'm considering drugs here ffs, all of them have side effects and are far from perfect, yet I'm willing to try them if they help me at all to get things done. Even to get things done in a mediocre fashion, that would be better than not completing the tasks I want to do.


The whole thing is silly, isn't it? The fact that you use substances which have uncertainty is just a part of the analysis of the costs and benefits. It's not proof that you have gotten over something that you came to write a thread about. If you truly believe the last sentence you wrote, then what, exactly, is the problem? I don't know that you need meds or anything to get to mediocre results.

Anyway I'm sorry if my responses are not what you are looking for and in fairness I have used supplement after supplement and a few drugs to try to break the cycle of my thought patterns and sadly haven't found any SUBSTANCE that works. That, or things that are effective cause other problems which are then obsessed over.

You asked for constructive ideas so I will post a few but they aren't meds so if it qualifies as a hi-jacking of your thread I apologize. These are some ideas I got off of boards like these and have been very helpful.

- Are you aversive to discipline? A trait that is present in the opposite of procrastination is self discipline. What about authority? How do you respond to authority? For me it was tough when I had issues with self discipline. No one could tell me anything. I had done all the research and I knew more than anyone.
- Do you have low confidence of succeeding in a task? Or very little reward expectation from the task? Check Temporal Motivational Theory: http://blogs.techrep...ech-news/?p=392 "...factors such as the expectancy a person has of succeeding with a given task (E), the value of completing the task (V), the desirability of the task (Utility), its immediacy or availability (Γ) and the person's sensitivity to delay (D). Utility = E x V / ΓD " For me, I definitely have a problem when it comes to reward. If I am due a large refund for taxes then I will be all over that. But I can't get myself to fill out rebate forms for $10.
- For ME, but maybe not you, the perceived reward was always higher if I got something done within a short amount of time. Like, just under the wire. What a rush. Therefore I backed into when I would start a task by knowing the due date and subtracting from that the amount of time it would take. Working without that feeling of the impending timeline, what was the point? I could readily do something else instead and then get the rush by pressing myself.
- Remove temptations or distractions. I prided myself on being a great multitasker. They sometimes ask if you are a good mutitasker in interviews. This always seemed to me to be a good trait. Problem for a procrastinator is that the distractions give rise to other activities that may be perceived as more rewarding than the task you are working to complete.
- Compartmentalize your environment. Insomniacs are told to only use the bed for sleeping. This establishes environment cues for the activity of sleeping. If you procrastinate your studying activities, then make a place where they only thing you do there is study.
- The single most helpful thing has been meditation rather than medication. I found that I was living my life in either the past or, even worse, the multiple potential future scenarios. Meditation teaches mindfulness of the present moment and helps with calmness of the mind as well as focus and concentration. These traits help when it comes to getting things done.
- Use behavior oriented approaches to help reinforce what is good and what is bad in terms of task completion. Punish yourself by taking away your distracting sources and reward yourself with these things on task completion.
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#23 aLurker

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Posted 29 June 2010 - 12:12 AM

Thank you for your detailed reply.

You haven't found anything helpful yet because the only thing that will be helpful will be perfect and it isn't out there. Anything short of that and you will have to keep searching.


And that remark is just silly. I've tried many methods which claims to be helpful against procrastination without them being perfect. I'm considering drugs here ffs, all of them have side effects and are far from perfect, yet I'm willing to try them if they help me at all to get things done. Even to get things done in a mediocre fashion, that would be better than not completing the tasks I want to do.


The whole thing is silly, isn't it? The fact that you use substances which have uncertainty is just a part of the analysis of the costs and benefits. It's not proof that you have gotten over something that you came to write a thread about. If you truly believe the last sentence you wrote, then what, exactly, is the problem? I don't know that you need meds or anything to get to mediocre results.


I'm sorry if my wording was somewhat unclear or ambiguous. Obviously I haven't gotten over procrastination and I never claimed otherwise. My point was merely that mediocre results are better than the total lack of results which procrastination brings me in a few areas of my life.

Anyway I'm sorry if my responses are not what you are looking for and in fairness I have used supplement after supplement and a few drugs to try to break the cycle of my thought patterns and sadly haven't found any SUBSTANCE that works. That, or things that are effective cause other problems which are then obsessed over.

It seems we are looking for the same thing. I'm sorry that no substance to date has worked for you although everyone's brain responds somewhat differently to them. We are both aware that drugs can alter your mind and that thoughts can alter your mind. I'm merely trying see my options from both ends, as you already tried.

You asked for constructive ideas so I will post a few but they aren't meds so if it qualifies as a hi-jacking of your thread I apologize. These are some ideas I got off of boards like these and have been very helpful.

Thank you for taking your time to write them down, I appreciate it.

- Are you aversive to discipline? A trait that is present in the opposite of procrastination is self discipline. What about authority? How do you respond to authority? For me it was tough when I had issues with self discipline. No one could tell me anything. I had done all the research and I knew more than anyone.

Hmm. My self-discipline could obviously be better otherwise we wouldn't be having this conversation. Authority issues, probably some. Knowing better than anyone is a childish way of thought I outgrew in my teens. The more I learn the more I learn that I'm ignorant about. I try to listen if someone seems have something to teach me. All people do, some more than others and the trick is finding out what they can teach you.

- Do you have low confidence of succeeding in a task? Or very little reward expectation from the task? Check Temporal Motivational Theory: http://blogs.techrep...ech-news/?p=392 "...factors such as the expectancy a person has of succeeding with a given task (E), the value of completing the task (V), the desirability of the task (Utility), its immediacy or availability (Γ) and the person's sensitivity to delay (D). Utility = E x V / ΓD " For me, I definitely have a problem when it comes to reward. If I am due a large refund for taxes then I will be all over that. But I can't get myself to fill out rebate forms for $10.
- For ME, but maybe not you, the perceived reward was always higher if I got something done within a short amount of time. Like, just under the wire. What a rush. Therefore I backed into when I would start a task by knowing the due date and subtracting from that the amount of time it would take. Working without that feeling of the impending timeline, what was the point? I could readily do something else instead and then get the rush by pressing myself.

This is very interesting. I can relate to what you are describing about reward expectation. Putting things off to increase the sense of accomplishment. I feel my sense of accomplishment is somewhat impaired though. I might be looking for excuses and I realise that. I can't shake the feeling that my "reward" should be higher than it already is. My mood is rather flat and if I fail or succeed doesn't really affect my emotions as much as I feel it should. Even the rush of pulling something off against all odds in the nick of time has begun to feel hollow.

Maybe I'm looking for the "magic pill". But maybe, just maybe, there is a chance that my mild ahedonia/depression/apathy/whatever can be much improved by a pill. That's what anti-depressants are for, although whether I'm clinically depressed or not is questionable, I'll ask my doctor.

It's not just productivity we are after, it is the enjoyment of the process and/or the sense of accomplishment we really want. I'm hoping some kind of medication might be able to increase this and make the rewards worth fighting for again. The productivity is merely a side effect compared to the sense of fulfilment a job well done provides for some people. Right now I'm just not feeling I'm enjoying my accomplishments I do as much as others would.

- Remove temptations or distractions. I prided myself on being a great multitasker. They sometimes ask if you are a good mutitasker in interviews. This always seemed to me to be a good trait. Problem for a procrastinator is that the distractions give rise to other activities that may be perceived as more rewarding than the task you are working to complete.
- Compartmentalize your environment. Insomniacs are told to only use the bed for sleeping. This establishes environment cues for the activity of sleeping. If you procrastinate your studying activities, then make a place where they only thing you do there is study.
- The single most helpful thing has been meditation rather than medication. I found that I was living my life in either the past or, even worse, the multiple potential future scenarios. Meditation teaches mindfulness of the present moment and helps with calmness of the mind as well as focus and concentration. These traits help when it comes to getting things done.
- Use behavior oriented approaches to help reinforce what is good and what is bad in terms of task completion. Punish yourself by taking away your distracting sources and reward yourself with these things on task completion.


Enjoying the process is very important. Meditation has helped me with this somewhat. It has mostly been helpful for my concentration and to my self discipline though. Visualisation techniques has helped improve my mood too.

A separate work space as helped me avoiding the Internet when I try to study, the part I have trouble with is finding it worthwhile to sit down and actually do it.

The more Pavlovian approach is something I should be more strict about and also a very good idea.

All excellent suggestions.

They say "work is its own reward" but this is only true if you enjoy the process or the sense of accomplishment it gives you. The rewards my neural circuitry provides me with seem pretty meh and I seldom find it worthwhile to put in the effort.

Here is a quote from the movie pumping iron:

Arnold Schwarzenegger: The greatest feeling you can get in a gym, or the most satisfying feeling you can get in the gym is... The Pump. Let's say you train your biceps. Blood is rushing into your muscles and that's what we call The Pump. You muscles get a really tight feeling, like your skin is going to explode any minute, and it's really tight - it's like somebody blowing air into it, into your muscle. It just blows up, and it feels really different. It feels fantastic.

It's as satisfying to me as, uh, coming is, you know? As, ah, having sex with a woman and coming. And so can you believe how much I am in heaven? I am like, uh, getting the feeling of coming in a gym, I'm getting the feeling of coming at home, I'm getting the feeling of coming backstage when I pump up, when I pose in front of 5,000 people, I get the same feeling, so I am coming day and night. I mean, it's terrific. Right? So you know, I am in heaven.


Maybe I'm not training hard enough, I admit that could be the problem. But perhaps my brain chemistry somehow inhibits me from feeling the same sense of reward that Arnold does. The rush Arnold gets from lifting weights is something I envy and perhaps I can increase that rush through the power of thought or more weights but I'm not giving up hope this is something modern science can help me with.

I just want the rewards to be worth fighting for, right now I feel they seldom are.

#24 chrono

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Posted 29 June 2010 - 01:24 PM

I've been meaning to contribute something helpful in this thread but I keep putting it off.

Watch out for this guy! :ph34r:

Do you feel like you have any attentional difficulties? Not feeling rewarded is a classic symptom of ADD, but if you don't have significant trouble with focus or attention, there are other things it could be, as well. Or, as mentioned, this could all be purely behavioral/habitual/psychological. Though that vexing distinction isn't necessarily clarified even if you do have ADD.

I'd like to think that both pharmaceuticals/nootropics and behavioral modification have potential to help with this problem, especially if used in tandem. There seems to be no shortage of people willing to say "X didn't work for me," but our psychological and neurochemical makeups are very different.

It sounds like you're already thinking along some of the right concerning techniques that can have an impact. CBT might have some application for motivation, as well, though I can't think of any examples off hand. As far as medication goes, finding a tenable solution is incredibly difficult. But finding things that can give you a boost is considerably easier. Substances which "do" very little on their own may make the difference when forcing yourself to form better habits.

As far as mechanisms go, I don't think a very detailed answer is possible. Prefrontal dopamine and norepinephrine seem to be most implicated. I posted a short list of abstracts concerning dopamine in another of your threads, which is unfortunately indicative of the state of current research: how various ant/agonists impact how much rats want food pellets. Norepinephrine has only a few papers regarding motivation.

Trying to dilineate how each neurotransmitter may affect different aspects of motivation based on rat studies is, IMO, almost useless. Anecdotally, I've always found dopaminergics to have some effect on this spectrum. OTOH, some people find adrenergics like guanfacine gives them a motivational boost. Check out ADDforums if you haven't yet, though the discussion is very anecdotal.

#25 aLurker

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Posted 30 June 2010 - 01:36 AM

I've got most the symptoms listed for inattentive ADD, hard to tell if I would be diagnosed with it though. Piracetam seems to help with the attention but it has only been less than ten days so far. I found it really hard to focus on stuff because most of the time I don't really care all that much. If something was interesting I could focus though, delaying stuff seemed to make it more challenging and therefore interesting.

Chrono, since you lament the almost useless rat studies, I have got a treat for you (and no - it's not a food pellet):
I found a study backing up my suspicions, and it is done with humans!
Worth the ‘EEfRT’? The Effort Expenditure for Rewards Task as an Objective Measure of Motivation and Anhedonia

From an article discussing the study:

"Consistent with our hypotheses, we found that individuals with self-reported anhedonia made fewer hard-task choices," the authors wrote. "These findings are consistent with theoretical models linking anhedonia to decreased (dopamine levels)."

"By addressing the motivational dimension of anhedonia, our findings suggest a plausible theoretical connection between dopamine deficiency and reward processing in depression, which may eventually help us better understand how anhedonia responds to treatment," Treadway said.


Kind of obvious really: you are less inclined to work for a reward you can't fully enjoy due to lack of dopamine.

I'm going to the doctor in a few days, I'll ask him to test my dopamine values. I'll check my vitamin D too, that's a likely suspect in my case. I'll continue with my mental exercises and try to raise my dopamine naturally by exercising more vigorously.

#26 health_nutty

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Posted 30 June 2010 - 02:00 AM

I found it really hard to focus on stuff because most of the time I don't really care all that much. If something was interesting I could focus though, delaying stuff seemed to make it more challenging and therefore interesting.


That sounds like depression to me. Maybe supplements (or drugs) that help depression would help, if that is the underlying cause.

#27 chrono

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Posted 30 June 2010 - 09:23 AM

Chrono, since you lament the almost useless rat studies, I have got a treat for you (and no - it's not a food pellet):
I found a study backing up my suspicions, and it is done with humans!
Worth the ‘EEfRT’? The Effort Expenditure for Rewards Task as an Objective Measure of Motivation and Anhedonia

From an article discussing the study:

"Consistent with our hypotheses, we found that individuals with self-reported anhedonia made fewer hard-task choices," the authors wrote. "These findings are consistent with theoretical models linking anhedonia to decreased (dopamine levels)."

"By addressing the motivational dimension of anhedonia, our findings suggest a plausible theoretical connection between dopamine deficiency and reward processing in depression, which may eventually help us better understand how anhedonia responds to treatment," Treadway said.

Now I'm going to be thinking about food pellets all day!

I dunno about that article. They essentially use a rodent study on humans, with a couple dollars in place of food pellets. I've seen these kinds of games used to study things like generosity or empathy. It seems to me the problem with this kind of model is that if the rodents know that they're in a rodent study, they probably aren't behaving "naturally." And that's beyond the problem of whether the model is an accurate test of anhedonia/etc to begin with.

Unfortunately, they didn't study dopamine directly, but connected self-reported anhedonia to rat studies of decreased dopamine, and concluded that there was a plausible theoretical connection. Don't get me wrong, I think there is such a connection, but I don't think studies like this do much to demonstrate it. I hope someone will do an imaging study on motivation/anhedonia, that will more precisely detail some of the neural correlates of these types of problems as they manifest in humans.

Edited by chrono, 30 June 2010 - 09:28 AM.


#28 tepol

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Posted 30 June 2010 - 12:18 PM

I think self control is an important factor. Some people who work hard might naturally be procrastinators but they force themselves to do what they need. Others just feel like doing it and don't have to give it a second thought.


I agree , I dont think it helps , hard to tell how much of it is this physical effects of being cautious , or the reasons Im being cautious in the first place ( illness ).

#29 jackdaniels

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Posted 30 June 2010 - 12:51 PM

The thief of time explained :)

View on Vimeo.


Edited by jackdaniels, 30 June 2010 - 12:53 PM.


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#30 Animal

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Posted 30 June 2010 - 01:03 PM

I certainly believe there is purely psychological component to procrastination, but like others here I also believe that appropriate medication can be a fantastic way to begin the process of sustained behavioural modification. If you suffer from anhedonia, all you want to do are the most dopaminergically rewarding activities, whatever they may be for a particular individual, although typically they're not productive. It's similar to ADD, including the lack of dopaminergic tone, although it's not necessarily the prefrontal cortex that is affected.

Personally I find that Modafinil has excellent effects on my motivation, which would correlate with the dopamine centric theory. Corroborating is that I find Deprenyl and Buproprion also stimulate my motivation to carry out the less stimulating activities in my schedule.
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