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Ask HN: How do I stay "on" all the time?
55 points by rfnslyr on Nov 29, 2013 | hide | past | favorite | 59 comments
When I was young, maybe 14, the thrill of visiting forums and discussing things was the absolute best. I was always ON. Messaging randoms just because I can and talk, making friends online. Dying to come home to write that shitty script so I got 3 replies on a forum.

Now, I'm only "ON" about 10% of the time, and that's at work. I got my own apartment, state of the art hardware, I got everything I wanted that I thought would help me, but now I'm here, exactly where I want to be, and yet I still don't have the drive.

It seems like the more I think about what I want to attain in software, the more apathetic I become to the field in general and just want to escape. I have goals, but I rarely come home and work on something, I just go on Reddit and smoke weed until I go to bed then feel depressed for wasting yet another day.

It's a situation that more software developers than you may think find themselves in.

- exercise regularly (once a week to start with, ideally every day). A lot of software people are obsessed with the gym, which I personally hate. Find something that fits you. It could be rock climbing, swimming, playing basketball, etc- just do something. It has clear effects on your brain.

- eat well. Software companies like to feed their employee redbull and Doritos; don't touch that crap. Making a salad at home is cheap, quick and healthy.

- as another commenter suggested, maybe seek out something more intellectually demanding than software engineering if you're bored. Pick up a number theory or quantum physics textbook, or get into chess- whatever works for you. Making CRUD web apps is not all that it's made out to be.

- try to cutdown the weed. Force yourself to never smoke before a certain hour. Ie if you get home at 7 and go to bed at 11, no weed before 10.

- cut the crappy websites like reddit. Modify your /etc/hosts, block the IPs in your router and then change the password to garbage, etc. those sites are a giant black hole and are designed to make people do exactly what you're doing.

- go out in nature. It may be just me, but living in the city kills my brain cells. Drive out once or twice a month for hikes, etc.

- other things that have worked for me, but ymmv: getting rid of most of my gadgets that waste time (iPad, super fancy phone with a million useless apps, etc). Installing Linux on a cheap netbook so that i can't get distracted by video games (heck even YouTube videos are rendered choppily, which is great). Meditation. Reading more paper books and less blog posts (a kindle+tpb is great for that). Making a list of leisure activities that I find acceptable and making sure that I do at least one of them a day (reading, drawing, playing an instrument, chess, etc)

- finally, you may be depressed or burned out. It happens. Think about going somewhere exotic for a week or two, isolated from your daily environment & work. Think about seeing a psychiatrist. They're trained to deal with this.

It gets better, friend. Hang in there.

In a way Hacker News more insidious than Reddit, because a lot of the articles are about people being productive and successful it tricks you into thinking it's more "wholesome" than Reddit/Buzzfeed/etc. It is, but that doesn't warrant the hours and hours of idle browsing that you can potentially spend on it.

I think what happens is this: when you're first starting, you tend to get buoyed along by a lot of small victories that give you a big rush. Even something simple like getting a program to compile gives you a bit of a high. All those small victories make it easy to keep going, and you have a definite sense of progress. Once you're more experienced though, those victories start being fewer and farther between, and progress becomes less obvious. Nerdy analogy, but it's like gaining levels in an RPG. The first 10 or 20 are easy, and then each progressive one becomes more and more grind.

Maybe you could get some of that "rush" back by setting your goals to non-technical things for your technical projects? IE, instead of "learn this", maybe "launch this by X" or "get X many users"? Maybe what you need are small measurable milestones to hit.

The other thing is, sometimes it just helps to have some sort of "dumb" activity that can get you into rhythm. Like, when I'm trying to get into coding, a lot of times I'll just sort of start cleaning up code, writing some simple comments, and refactoring things, because it's sort of a brainless activity that can get me going. YMMV, but it helps just to start being active and ease into the hard things.

When you were 14 you had a lot less red tape in your world. When you wanted to do something you could just dive into it; you didn't have to wait till you finished your work, paid your taxes, flossed your teeth, and did your laundry.

Something I had to figure out that no one ever told me is that the older you get, the more proactive you need to be about managing your self and your time. A few suggestions for doing this:

- develop a morning ritual. For me this involves waking up to music a few hours before I have to do any work, making a healthy smoothie for breakfast, doing a few exercises, meditating, and planning my day.

- before you start working, plan out your whole day into 25 minute intervals. Think about what you want to accomplish to grow for yourself first, and then schedule your work around those personal goals.

- Keep a journal of your daily plans, and regularly track your progress. Try using Evernote for this.

- Get in the habit of devoting about 10% of your mental resources to directing your own emotions toward thinking positively, focusing, and eliminating your own bad mental habits.

Hope some of this helps.

Everytime you feel you are wasting time during any hour, jog in place for 7 minutes and get a coffee or some gum after. You will either be fit or you'll have things done, either way you will feel pretty good. Rewards systems always help, or chores/exercise where you are slacking i.e. if I don't get this done I'll have to do something worse... Also schedule in time wastage, schedule in a show or movie per day, then only watch at that time. Where that fails I go on lockdown on RescueTime. Occasionally though you just need a break, take a day or two off from work completely. Put some fun items on your todo not just work.

Starting is actually the hardest part if you are demotivated. Commit to work on something for 15 minutes or 3-5 of your favorite songs and agree that if you aren't feeling it you can stop. Many times that is all you need to get going into a full day flow state, small chunks of time with the ability to stop if you want. I also leave an easy issue on some game code if I need to get right back in the next day.

Where all else fails, create a project that is more difficult to work on, if it is procrastination it tends to the easier tasks. Make some tasks that are harder above what you want to get done. If you setup the right rewards/balance systems you won't have to trick yourself, stuff will just get done. Small bites.

Is exercise a regular part of your routine? I personally find, as counter-intuitive as it may sound, that I feel more energized when I'm exercising regularly. Also the evidence of the positive effect of exercise on depression is substantial.

Agreed. I should exercise too.

I most definitely need to get back into that. Moved to a new area out of my comfort zone and the gym options are shit, but I'm sure I'll find something.

If it at all possible, I would try to arrange where you live so that you can bike to work. It basically makes exercise "built in" -- i.e. no additional effort.

In any case, I totally agree about exercise increasing energy. And it only continues if it's not a chore; you have to look forward to it (eventually). Once you are good at something you will look forward to it.

You don't need a gym to be fit. The cost of a couple of months membership can buy you a pair of kettle bells and some resistance bands. Doing core, functional exercises outside in the fresh air under the sun - it's immensely more refreshing than a stuffy old crowded gym. Good luck to you.

I used to be into powerlifting and bodybuilding, dabbled in olympic style lifting as well, so for my hobby I would need a good gym. I agree though, it's just that's not what brings me joy, I much rather push heavy weights.

You can't.

This is going to be something that will come up again and again as the lifehackers do whatever they can to trim and prune themselves into the life that's most convenient.

You aren't broken - the framework that you're forcing yourself to operate in is. No matter how many drugs and how much adderall we take, we can only ignore what our minds are trying to tell us for so long.

There's something that you want to be doing right now, and it's not what you think it is. You'll have to figure it out or be stuck in limbo.

Work on stuff that matters. If you get demotivated then maybe it means you realized the thing you we working on doesn't matter as much as you thought. So you pivot and work on something that keeps you motivated.

You say you got everything you wanted that would help you, maybe that's one of the reasons. Scarcity forces creativity, there's some challenge too.

Also things have developed to be kind of complicated compared to the good old days when commercial games were made by some dude just like you in his moms basement, maybe from zero to completion.

Most things have been done already and done well by either very talented inviduals or companies with lots of people. It's not fun to reinvent a wheel, especially if you're doubtful that it would be any better than what's already out there.

Getting older also gives you self confidence and/or lowers your need for validation from others. Impressing a tiny fraction of anonymous people on the internet doesn't change how you feel.

If you got good at what you're doing, then you know that you could accomplish what you want and how to go about doing it if you just decided to do it, that's mostly not motivating or challenging, more like a chore.

I'd suggest starting a project with some kind of measurable outcome, such as trying to get your stack overflow score up, making some kind of utility that's faster than the existing ones (a faster grep, an xml parser, ..) or something like that.

If you're like me, I'd say stop having goals and just do stuff that seems cool.

I'm not a very goal-motivated person, because it always seems far off and unattainable and like there's a lot of work I'd have to do to get there for little payoff until the very end. So I just do little stuff, code dumb little apps that don't do much except teach me something I didn't know before.

Consider getting a dog. They're great energy and can help you pick yourself out of a bad mood. The regular exercise of walking one everyday is enough to regulate your stress and improve productivity.

There's something to that. I unintentionally adopted a German shepherd a few months ago and learning to look after him has been quite an interesting challenge, though sometimes a frustrating one.

On a broader note, consider that when you were 14 the world and the conept of agency were both novel. In the meantime, you've realized that neither are all they're cracked up to be, and your progress through the world isn't as rapid as exciting as when you first encountered it. Some stuff that you thought was uber-cool back then turned out to be meh.

However, I do find that if you're struggling with boredom the endless flow of trivia on the internet makes that worse rather than better. Rather than Reddit, curl up with a good book.

I made that mistake 6 years ago to solve a similar problem. Now I have a ton of unnecessary responsibilities which only drive me crazy. Whenever I focus on something more than an hour she wants attention and we are talking about a trained dog here. There is a lot to write but I'm getting bored even thinking about it. Feeding, taking out, playing, cleaning, health care etc etc. In conclusion, yes having a dog is nice but it brings too many responsibilities together. It may solve a problem but you will have five new problems.

I'm usually only on about 10% of the time for similar reasons. Once I start browsing I rarely resume what I was hacking on, but I try to force myself out of the habit before I start.

Use LeechBlock or similar browser plugin to limit your reddit to certain times of day (Later, rather than early, or you'll get distracted). Breaking habits like reddit browsing is difficult to do without forcing yourself to do different. Make sure you configure it so that you can't disable the block, or you could develop the habit of just disabling it when you hit the block. Also, if you find yourself mindlessly browsing, take a break from the machine and grab a brew or something to snack on, or do some exercise.

The biggest hurdle is actually getting started. Once you've got open your editor, the project your working on, and a goal in your mind, the rest is straightforward.

One thing that might be holding you back is lack of short term goals or over ambition, because you will always feel like you won't have enough time to complete anything of value, and chose to put it off instead. Give yourself some short goals with some Todo organizer, or org-mode, but don't list to many, and don't expect to finish them all.

Force yourself to consider a joint, or some other entertainment (like Reddit, HN) as a reward for achieving some goals.

Also, consider working on some open source project, or work on one with somebody you know. Having someone else to motivate you and discuss ideas with is a massive help, as long as you don't spend all your time talking crap.

I feel you

When i was about that age. The thrill to chat on irc was so big. I remember coming home from school, looking forward to be on irc all night, only to find out there was a netsplit on efnet and the channel was taken 'over'. I could be on irc all day, all night, till early morning. I could socialize with the people i met from anywhere, all day, all night, till early morning. I could code, for things i was excited about, all day, all night, till early morning.

Then, some years later, i realized. Life hit me. Friends moved on, people changed, things around me changed, responsibility changed, i changed. I still code, love to code, even made a living out of coding. But not like when i was young.

I wonder a lot, about what has changed. I could be "ON" all day back then. Now i rarely bother to join, give my opinion or reply immediately. I consume a lot though, reading, thinking. I feel even surprised i am replying on this topic, but it resonates with me very much.

Mind you. If one was to ask me. Are you happy, i am. I don't feel depressed. Love a lot of things and don't waste my days. At least, not anymore.

I wonder, how do you come home. Feeling energized or mentally exhausted. Is there anything (else) that you are passionate about. Is there anything else that makes you forget about time, except for mind numbing drugs? If you feel you are stuck, try changing your environment. Changing your mind goes along with it.

Experiment with your habits, drop some and try some. Enough sleep, a healty diet, exercise and being outside are definitely essential. A different job, new people around you, also worth a try, but harder. More books, less television. Simplify. Your background story is very short though. There are a lot of things to consider when trying to figure out your (own) perceptions, emotions and motivations.

Stop smoking weed for a month. See if that increases your drive in some quantifiable sense (it probably will). If so, stop smoking as a daily habit. Save it for special social occasions and only on weekends.

After you've regulated your cannabis intake, try to get some exercise into your routine, in any way possible. The important part here is to FORM A HABIT and stick with it.

I find that for myself the easiest change was to start cycling to work instead of driving. After about two weeks it started feeling like the most natural thing in the world and now driving appears odd.

After your body is reasonably healthy, if you are still unmotivated then maybe it's time to make a major change to your routine. e.g. job, relationships, location, you probably know which one needs to change. If that change doesn't help rinse and repeat.

Another option is that you're suffering from mild depression, in that case consult with a psychiatrist. Some antidepressants work like magic in matter of days.

I take smart drugs and supplement with a product called Alleradd which replenishes my neurotransmitters and helps avoid the comedown.

What I will say is that everything I've ever gotten excited about became less exciting as soon as it became my job. The main way to combat this is in your own mind. The thing that makes a job suck is the inane task you have to do as part of of a whole. The way to combat that is to remember what you're really in it for. To think about the big picture. Remember that what you're coding now is training for the big idea that you have that's going to change everything. For me, it's really important to think of the things I'm doing in abstract terms, otherwise I get bogged down in the details. I have to feel like I'm doing something that's part of something bigger!

Good luck, man. I know what you're feeling. Also, exercise never helped me...sorry.

First, stop thinking you are wasting your days. Don't ever judge yourself, that will only put you in a infinite loop of judging, nothing good comes out of that.

Forgive yourself even if you got nothing done. Say "This is allright even if I didn't get anything done, it's allright to make mistakes and do nothing. I forgive myself."

Do this whenever you are blaming yourself for something. It's the key to healing from any self placed limitation, to allow it to happen and then allow positive changes to take place.

Start exercising regularly, go running, swimming, do yoga, whatever. Very important in order to keep your energies running and your mind working, like many others here have noticed too.

There are also very good advice here, so I will not go into more detail, but I see these are the most important parts to get out of the place you are in, based on this short information you gave.

Write a thousand words before 8 am everyday. Or code a bunch of useful, productive stuff that is concrete (i.e. you can see results immediately after compile - output logs is a very good way to do this). Before going to bed, leave yourself a hard to solve problem and an easy to solve problem.

You have aged. Your energy level and motivation will decline until you die.

The rate of change varies from person to person, and you can probably reinvigorate yourself to a degree with a better lifestyle (more exercise, a better diet, a stimulating job, a vibrant social life), but slowing down is inevitable.

Ha. I don't think it's quite that grim.

Sure, your overall energy level goes down when you age. But if you matured well, then your motivation goes up because you know what matters to the world and what matters to yourself. And you have more skills. People are motivated to do what they're good at.

When you're young, you're trying lots of shit, but you mostly suck at all of the things you try. You're a dilettante. Your low expectations and sense of novelty keep you excited. You're spending a lot of energy, but objectively not getting much done.

When you're older, you're trying less stuff, but the skills you already have allow you to use much less energy to to accomplish much more.

Honestly I think there is an additional compounding effect with programming -- you can write programs that make you a better programmer. I still use little tools and scripts I built 5 to 10 years ago, and they magnify my productivity. I know that as a 20 year old I would have spent an entire afternoon on something that is now second nature; a one-liner.

It's not a matter of having more energy. You don't want to spend lot of energy while programming, at least.

You're describing one method of coping with the inevitable decline, and I think your advice is excellent and I'm glad it works well for you. But the OP was complaining precisely about a decline in energy and that 'sense of novelty'. I don't think there's any point in suger-coating the reality that for most people those feelings peak early in your youth.

Well, I'm not and no one should be "coping" (with being in their 30's!), and it's not a "decline". It's only a decline if you look at the downside and not the upside.

I totally agree that you have more raw energy and there is more potential for excitement when you're 14. But like I said, if you want to write good software, "energy" and "excitement" are not top on the list of attributes you need.

I think the OP is basically describing mild depression, which is a completely different issue, unrelated to getting older. You can be depressed and young or depressed and old. In fact I was a lot more depressed when I was younger.

You turned an issue of motivation into an issue of age, when they're not the same thing.

Perhaps if your goal is to write the next Facebook, and you're in your 30's, the time has passed. You're not going to be Zuckerberg, or Larry Page. I guess some people have trouble coming to grips with that. But personally I don't care so much about those kinds of things (and didn't when I was younger either.) You're not going to be Van Halen or Jack White either. Suck it up :)

> You have aged. Your energy level and motivation will decline until you die.

Damn that's depressing.

I disagree.

The way I like to look at it is that you simply need to work a little harder. You see athletes in their 30's and 40's (and even much later) doing things that most people can't do in their teens. Why is that? It's because pretty much everyone is so far from their potential.

In theory some particular aspect of you may start declining but almost always this means that if you work harder at it you can outperform your younger self... So while there are some biological processes at work most of it is in your mind.

Bullshit. He sounds like he's in his 20s or 30s. Energy levels should not be at 10% of peak. (Peak is around age 20.) They should be 85-95%, which is good enough to get most things done. 10% is appropriate for age 85.

His problem is that he's in a pretty severe rut. His default activities (low-value screen time) and cannabis use are depleting him. Unfortunately, the "obvious" change (quit pot and Reddit and, most likely, the Internet, cold turkey) is probably not a good idea. He could probably quit the cannabis cold turkey (it's not physically addictive) but if he quits screen time, he's risking anxiety issues. (Screen addiction is, IMO, about low-level anxiety.)

Energy levels do go down with age, but not so dramatically. Most people, I would say, are at 60-80% of peak energy (enough to perform well at work, and offset by gains in perspective) until their final illness (which might take a week, or a decade, to run its course).

The VC-funded world worships youth in a creepy way that has more to do with venture capitalists' midlife crises (they did their 20s wrong, and want to relive those years by taking young proteges-- this is often known as chickenhawking) than anything real or substantial. We shouldn't fall for that bullshit. The years from 20 to about 70 are basically a plateau for most people (excluding athletes)-- if they take care of their health.

If you are sure you still want to work in software, a few tips.

1) Work out (if you're not), to keep your energy high; it's also arguably the best combatant of feeling depressed.

2) Work on projects you're passionate about or find challenging in software. If your job isn't fulfilling that overall mission, consider a change.

3) Maybe starting your own business so you can better dictate your goals and challenges, is another answer.

It kind of sounds like you're in the wrong field (given your apathy and wanting to escape). I've known a few software prodigies - people that were seemingly gifted toward writing software from a young age. A lot of them were miserable in the field as they got older (perhaps too easy?). Maybe software is too easy for you, or just boring period at this point.

In short,

+ Exercise regularly (yoga or games/activities) - at least 3 times a week.

+ Eat healthy

+ Meditate [0]

+ Focus on creating better habits (quit smoking; instead of wasting time on reddit, read books, especially this one [1] or go for a walk)

[0] http://www.siyli.org/take-the-course/siy-curriculum/ (watch the video on mindfulness meditation)

[1] http://charlesduhigg.com/the-power-of-habit/

Take vacations, find stuff totally unrelated to what you do to get into (for me, it was professional wrestling), and take long breaks. The issue is that we all only have so much attention we can use up over the course of a day, a week, and the more that's used, the less likely we are to give a shit about anything. So you gotta refresh it and not worry about being "on" or not. If you do the refresh, you will be.

How stressful/demanding is your day job? When I was working 12 hour days at a start up, the only thing I was able to do when I got home was surf reddit and go to bed. I was so drained; physically and mentally exhausted.

It wasn't until I left that I was able to put more energy into the things that I enjoyed outside of work: coding, commenting, creating shit, etc.

I dk, it might be worth it to consider doing something else during the day.

> I'm here, exactly where I want to be Moving towards something is more fun than protecting existing position.

> I have goals, but It seems, those are not 'recharging' at the time

== Try some of these for a week or two == Do nothing(nothing at all, just sit and observe which thoughts are bugging you) Do stuff you like. Do something you haven't done before. Make mistakes. Learn.

What do you want to attain in software?

I would recommend writing yours ideas down. If your thoughts are jumbled - (as another commenter mentioned) - you might have the developer's equivalent of "writers's block". Even if you don't release them, it might get you to focus on it, inspire you to think and excited to get started.

I released my list to inspire myself and others.

I don't know the full answer, but try vitamin D. I've been taking 4000 IUs of D3 in the morning. If you're inside most of the time chances are you're not getting enough. you might be surprised how much it can boost your mood, and focus.

And like others said, less weed more exercise.

I view this as akin to Writer's Block, to which the cure is simply to get back to writing. So clearly stated, it seems a daunting taskā€”and yet, there it is.

Get back to making meaningful things. Start with a single line of code. Build, ship, build. Learn. Build more. Ship more.

I have been in the exact same position: Nice big apartment, home office full of expensive hardware, weed dispensary pass. I'm not going to tell you what to do, but at some point realized all the drive I had before was just to buy that stupid lifestyle.

Make sure you are not doing the same.

    >smoking weed
    >wondering why you can't stay mentally on 

Pomodoros! Half the battle is getting started. If I don't know how to start I type steam of consciousness into a buffer until things start to congeal. Once your moving it's all downhill.

are you 'sure you'll find something'? Or is it a matter of literally going to a gym and signing up right now.

I noticed that what I do on the FIRST DAY i move to a new city makes a huge difference in what I do for my lifetime of the new city. First day, buy kale, sign up for a gym? I will be healthy for a while. First day, grab some mcdonalds? Here comes fatty.

Here's a video I made about exactly this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HJLKzSO4KBc

Good point. You could also say this about first day/weeks on a new job.

I also started with computers and programming at very young age (10yrs), and with a lot of ilusion.

3 years ago when I was 29, my daily routine was going home after job and be with computer untill going to sleep. I had periods of gaming, of programming of discovering-linux, install-and-review the latest open-source inovations, reading books, etc...

I always had a big passion for computers, BUT 3 years ago I suddenly got to a point when I realized that computer-time was not satisfying me as much as before... and although my habbits continued to take me home and be with the computer, I started noticing more and more that I was missing other things, like socializing and relating with people in other contexts...

Some months later, I had not really made any real change to my lifestyle, and was becoming more and more apathic and frustrated with everything (including my passion with computers)

Then, one day, I took the resolution of stop thinking and inscribe myself in the first group-activity that I saw... and that is how I got into a class of martial-arts... It was not easy for me the martial-art, and people where not very warm at first sight, but everytime I was there, sweating and feeling like "maybe-I-should-go-home" I remenbered myself the void sensation of being home alone tired of the computer... and I kept going to classes... some 6 months later, I started to know better my colleagues of the class, and my skills improved naturally, and I started to enjoy the classes by themselves and not as a refuge :)

Even still, somedays I got out of job late, or it was very cold and I skipped classes but then it I was at home and feeling frustrated by being there alone with computer, again with that feeling... and that reminded me that I knew I could change it, with my decisions... And that were important frustrated-moments, because helped me see that I could make things to feel better, or I could just not do anything but I would finally feel bad about it...

The martial-art classes have been to me the first intent to change my lifestyle, but since those early days, it has given me much much more than I could expect... I made friends, discovered much more interesting persons than I thought there were, and had great time... some special ocasions just happened after a class which I almost missed because of staying-at-the-warmy-home, and I try to not forget those special days because they would not have happened if I had not forced myself to go to class... that for me meant a huge personal lesson

I also recommend one of my best-books: "The Magic of Thinking Big" from David Schwarz... while reading that book I rethinked a lot of my own actitudes and it helped me be aware of some personal blocks

Hope sharing my experience helps someone :)

Lately I've been substituting reddit for reading books. Got myself a Kindle (if I spent that much I better use it!) Been feeling a lot more productive from it.

exercise and make lists.

I love making lists and do so everyday. Mostly they are to do items, but they have longer term items as well. During exercise I review my lists, usually in my head. Not only does my mind feel clear through physical exertion, I sometimes have a new angle on my work (and a renewed passion).

have a family, live a family life

adderall. just keep it in moderation.

Save up and take a year off.

Just do it.

You need to LIVE.

Stop using cannabis so much.

I second that. I've seen it in many "old friends" from high school and college who are extreme weed smokers, they're all the same way. Unmotivated, unwilling to do anything really, and some memory problems as well.

I'm not against cannabis (though I don't use it myself), but people have to keep in mind that it is a drug. Using almost every day is not good for you, there will be some damage. If you can't use it responsibly, quit doing it altogether, today.

Alternatively: Be certain you're using cannabis to live more, not living to use cannabis more.

Oh come on. If it's not wasting time smoking weed, it's wasting time browsing reddit, drinking, playing video games, sleeping, going out partying, etc. He needs a mental kickstart to get back on track otherwise he'll replace one vice with another.

Sometimes. But for some people, cannabis totally kills every motivation. I saw it a few times, people loosing every motivation to do anything, and it correlated with cannabis overuse.

And cannabis makes you unmotivated. It has an effect on you even on the next day (at least with a bit of bad luck), which can kill even then any motivation. It is one of the worst things you could do if you have problems to motivate yourself to do stuff.

Edit: Maybe I should tell a bit about that.

Take that one guy who lived with me. He lived in the USA for years, had to leave not too soon ago because of visa stuff. Had aspirations of becoming a fashion designer, music producer, had a good paying job as a photograph - never fully graped how much of his high reaching goals were hot air, but at least he could show some stuff he tried to do, he met people for it, and so on. Quite successful with woman, by the way, being a cool and good lucking guy from america.

He had a bit of waiting time before his next step, a design study course on a university, which sounded not too bad. But he started to smoke weed every day. That was a slow process - first, it was occasionally, which was fine and helped with the music, then it got more and more.

He got one small job (starbucks) to fill the time. Before, his day was being at home doing stuff. Now, it was either working, smoking weed and doing nothing, or if not working that day, smoking weed and doing nothing. Nothing got done, the deadline for the university came and went (not quite - a small effort a few days before based on old stuff, didn't work though). If he did catch himself after that, he at least lost a year.

Another guy I knew started with weed, became fully apathic, didn't visit the university anymore, started dealing, taking more drugs - and well, more I don't know, as the contact by then was nonexistent. But before it was sad to see as well, how one quite nice guy became an apathic being not able to buy toilet paper when it's about to go out.

I for sure stay away from that stuff since seeing that.

While that is possible, marijuana can affect motivation and it is a very good idea to quit for a month or more before reevaluating the situation.

Long term marijuana users have been shown to have lower dopamine levels [1] which can (does?) affect motivation.

Daily exercise is what has helped me mentally more than anything else - at this point I can't imagine ever going without it.

1. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201307/...

Yes. There is nothing wrong with smoking weed. However, doing it when he gets back home and then going to sleep is bad.

Why spend time learning and then having some fun with playing around with software development when you can simply light one up and reach nirvana?

Dear OP, I've been in your shoes. Seriously, smoke less, or smoke as a reward. Cannabis is awesome if you want to draw something or play music. It's not so awesome when you must use your logical mind.

Yes, it makes you feel good. That's the point, and that's why you should avoid it. Let's say it boosts your happiness by 50 happiness points. Learning something simply increase your happiness by 10 happiness points... and only when the learning it done! Of course you are not going to want to spend time learning stuff!

Procrastination happens when you reject a large long-term reward (the joy of finishing a project or solving a problem, or becoming successful in business) in favour of a smaller short-term one (partying, playing video games).

The latter activities are often more enjoyable while high so by introducing the option of smoking weed into the mix you are effectively increasing the appeal that the short-term rewards have, making it less likely overall that you will choose the long-term ones.

I suppose you can always use it as a reward ("if I work hard Monday -> Thursday evenings then I'll get high and chill out on Friday"). I'm sure that a lot of people who are successful do something like that (replace weed with any other vice or enjoyable activity).

The good news is that you're still "on" 10% of your time. For some people, that's zero. Also, the fact that your interests and motivations have changed (i.e. you don't like to message randoms anymore) is nothing bad. That just happens as you get older. You start to appreciate quality and detest quantity/complexity. At least, that's how you'll be if you're like me (but I'm a curmudgeon at the relatively young age of 30).

Stop smoking the pot. It isn't good for you. The amotivational effect is real. It doesn't happen to everyone, but I think most frequent pot users have lost quite a bit of their sharpness. Maybe 70%? Some people can take ridiculous amounts of drugs and keep their sharpness and motivation, but it doesn't sound like you're one of them. Sorry.

Stop feeling "depressed for wasting another day". You went to your job, performed well, and got paid, right? Then you didn't waste a day. You shot par. You did what you needed to do. There are a lot of people out there for whom par is a struggle. Make good choices (start working out, look for a better job, stop using drugs if you can't handle them) and the birdies will come-- infrequently at first, with more over time. It won't happen quickly, just like you didn't lose motivation quickly.

The one self-help schema to which I subscribe is the Principle of Moderate Change. Too small a change will not get past the threshold of day-to-day noise and you'll make no real progress. Too big a change will exhaust you or be short-lived. Change one thing to a moderate degree. Pot you can probably give up outright. Reddit is harder. Internet addiction is nasty for the same reason food addiction is so hard for people to kick-- it's something you have to do, it's a good thing, and the problem is too much. That, I've realized, is why it's so hard for overweight people to stop "abusing" food: their problem "drug" is something that they need (in somewhat lesser amounts) every day. For Internet addiction, the Moderate Change might be to limit Reddit to specific hours, or just to mandate periodic breaks and reflection (like the Pomodoro technique). Time-wasting produces its own (worthless) flow state, which is why I think that internet addiction issues are mostly anxiety disorders. It's useful to find a way to stick to something that'll help you break that time-waste flow.

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