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Schedules and other systems to induce habit formation.

Discussion in 'Help and Support' started by Knower of nothing, May 24, 2022.

  1. Knower of nothing

    Knower of nothing Well-Known Member

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    The situation:
    I live with my family in the attic of our home, full time NEET, rarely go outside. Needless to say I have a lot of spare time. Despite this, my ability to take care of myself and not fall back into the usual pit of self neglect is very inconsistent. Time is not the issue.
    In a peak-and-valley sort of way I'll have good periods where I'm on top of all the chores, eat and sleep well and even get in some physical exercise. This period rarely lasts more than 3 weeks and most importantly I'm unable to fall into a smooth pattern that I can repeat as habit. Energy and willingness are not the issue. I struggle with gaining any amount of consistency. The state of my self-care plays a major role in my general mental wellbeing.

    The systems I've tried:
    I've broken down individual tasks into their barebones steps and attempted going through them smallest bit at a time. Not helpful, I have no difficulty following through on a task, the issue lies in not starting at all.

    I've made a set order of activities to be done, placed it in an impossible to not see place. Can be followed in good periods but again, if I mess up the first step of the order, I lose the whole day. The order works against itself in the bigger picture because when working without schedule I will simply avoid the tasks I have trouble with and do the others first.

    I've tried a few variants on pomodoro where instead of specific tasks it is a set amount of time for any productive work I may have to do. This system was useful as it includes in itself the prospect of a break and being done with it through the timer. The problem I ran into instead, tragically, was that setting up the timer to begin with became a task of its own that could again easily sabotage the whole day if it does not work out.

    Other time based systems included alarms set with the names of the task at hand, or a more generic kick-start. Here at some point I just begin to ignore the alarms; once ignored once, they lose their motivating power and no longer incite action.

    Current upcoming attempt:
    Coming to terms with the inability at display, I will be trying an extremely light-weight version of the activity order schedule. Something is better than nothing. At this point I just want some progress of any sort.
    I have let go of the more difficult tasks, diet and exercise for now and stuck to only a few simple maintenance chores. The issue with this format was that if I mess up the first task in the order I lose the whole day. So I thought, what if I only have one task per day? Instead of a day schedule, I'll be going with a week schedule with only a single task per day. However I'm not confident, the load being light may help in pushing through as I'll have the relaxation of having the whole day off if I get through it, but I fear I am still lacking something that incites action to start with. The ultimate goal is to keep up with a system for up to half a year in the hopes of a habit forming that may make it slightly less forced of a process.

    Any additions, changes, insights or completely different systems or angles on the issue would be much appreciated. I'll be creating this current schedule physically, but I will hold off on initiating an attempt to follow it for a while so I can read through any potential assistance first. Thanks in advance!

    (And feel free to discuss anything related to schedule application in general)
     
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  2. Darkkin

    Darkkin Lioness of Spoons V.I.P Member

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    I tend to run counter to a lot of break down the task tools. Just like with my dysphonentic dyslexia, I can do the whole word, talk about the syllables and I overload.

    Generally, I'm good when I just do the thing and the dozen other tasks because they're on the way. I put a song I love on repeat or put on Discovery+ and proceed to tune it out. I have weird motivational anxiety, so my house is usually company coming level clean. I cannot stand mess or clutter.

    I work full time and have pets, so I have built in structure I can build around.

    One book that I did recently read on the topic.

    20220426_154311.jpg

    The author is an ADHDer who deals with depression. It really takes a look at workable systems and neurodivergencies. It was a very interesting read. It is almost the antithesis of Marie Kondo.
     
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  3. Knower of nothing

    Knower of nothing Well-Known Member

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    I've ordered the book and will give it a read once it gets here.
    It is true that with no job nor other responsibilities that there is no external expectation or structure that could support any habit. I have played with the idea of getting some plants of my own to see if taking care of them can be a springboard.
    I also experience the same anxiety motivation on the rare occasion of a visitor or some kind of appointment that I have to look presentable for but while it's useful in allowing me to keep up appearances, it does not aid in consistency. Thanks for your input.
     
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  4. Darkkin

    Darkkin Lioness of Spoons V.I.P Member

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    Houseplants are great to have. I started with an ivy clipping 12 years ago, now I have a ridiculous number. Pothos and spider plants are good starter species that require a bit more care than the neglect loving cacti and succulents.
     
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  5. Neonatal RRT

    Neonatal RRT Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    To do daily activities around the home,...I struggle with sometimes. I think this is mainly due to a lack of an important timeline. Today, for example,...I have the day off of work. My wife asked me to clean the floors and tidy up,...we have company coming over for dinner,...and she won't be home until 6pm. I've got my timeline,...I can't let her down. Now, if I didn't have that timeline, I might procrastinate until 5pm,...then do the "flight of the bumblebee" and try to get things done before she shows up. If I didn't have a timeline or a wife to keep me on track, and not disappoint,...I might just lie in my own filth around the house.

    I don't have these issues at work,...I AM on a timeline,...lives literally matter. When I get a call, in many cases, I've got to be there now. I generally don't have a problem getting things done at work,...in fact, because I am not a "social butterfly", I tend to get things done quicker than most.

    For me, it's about "What is my motivation?" If I don't have a timeline or some form of motivation,...nothing is getting done. I will sit and study all day long, take a nap, might not get out of my robe,...a total "lump on a log".

    So,..."What's your motivation?" "Do you have a timeline?"
     
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  6. Knower of nothing

    Knower of nothing Well-Known Member

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    Excellent post, thank you. I'm not sure what motivation I could use. I move when in intense pain like anyone else, but for example if I'm hungry and the process to get a decent meal is a hassle, I will convince myself to endure instead because it's easier. There's a twisted determination in putting up with pain if it's annoying to avoid.
    The timelines have been tried but don't function on their own, they need to be substantiated.
     
  7. Knower of nothing

    Knower of nothing Well-Known Member

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    I have read through the book, hung up some notes about it on my door and started the schedule as intended with no adjustments. Many of the intended revelations in this book seemed to be for rather socially conscious people or those that were bullied with chores in the past. I feel that if I only followed the ideas of kindness in here, I would be soothed into self-neglect again (I handle burn-outs in similar fashion). Maybe that's just the way it's meant to be then?
    If my latest scheduling attempt proves ineffective maybe it might be time to resign. I don't think I can ever find peace with the irregularity and executive dysfunction, but it can definitely become my normal. But that'll be for then.

    Today was trash day, the trash has been taken out. Tomorrow will be dishes, however currently there are none. I'll have to see what happens on days where the given task is either non-existent or very light. Perhaps simply a rest day? Ideally it goes right into creative efforts, I'm banning myself from putting the work towards other chores in advance for now as that's always just compounded into a lasting tiredness that throws me off rhythm. I suppose I'll update again in a week or so of working with the minimal schedule.
     
  8. Knower of nothing

    Knower of nothing Well-Known Member

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    It's been a fair bit over a week because there was little to update. Now there is however. This system also does not work. Evidently the workload doesn't have such an impact either. I'm currently frontloading all the work on monday and then doing nothing for the rest of the week, except for when I do.
    As this was pretty much the last model I could think of, this is me throwing in the towel. No more schedules, plans or schemes. We'll revert to something a little less organized. More primal perhaps.
    Since throwing in the towel I've gone outside more often, but that could just be because of the nice weather.

    I had a long talk about it with my mom as well. She has similar difficulty but finds the motivation through caring about being clean and being in clean rooms. I care similarly but not all of the time. The value of it isn't always very convincing. All I can think of to do now is commit in the opposite direction to my own values. There is the threat of self-neglect but frankly it might be fine to be this way.