Jan. 28th, 2017

lydy: (me by ddb)
People are weird. Brains are weird. It is known, Khaleesi. I am perpetually fascinated by the weirdnesses of my own brain. Part of that is basic self-defense. I have an assortment of brain dysfunctions, and one of the ways I manage them is to monitor myself constantly. Knowing I am depressed doesn't make the depression go away (oh, how I wish!) but it does help keep me from making permanent decision when I know I'm in an altered state.

I am really, really terrible at doing things on a daily basis. I am also really terrible at maintenance chores, like pretty much all basic housekeeping. I keep on looking for ways to motivate myself. I kind of like checking things off lists. At various points in life, I have kept small notebooks with lists of chores, which I drew lines through when I completed them. This was intermittently successful, but the lovely little notebooks with the pretty diffraction grating covers have vanished, and evidently the form factor and the pretty cover were important parts of my motivation.

Motivations are really weird. And people are frequently deceived about what actually motivates them. So it helps to pay attention not only to the things you think motivate you, but how you actually respond to things. When I started playing Pokemon GO, I discovered that I was highly motivated by virtual, magical pets. Who knew? Ok, then. Useful thing to know about myself.

Something I purely hate doing is flossing my teeth. I don't do it often enough, so my gums always bleed. It also doesn't help that I keep on running into articles talking about how most people don't really know how to floss their teeth, and they do as much harm as good by doing it poorly. This has led me, of course, to feeling inadequate even when I do floss. And since I feel demotivated about flossing, I am also demotivated about brushing, because brushing without flossing really feels like an additional failure. Added to all of this is the weird way in which brains work. So, I know that if I floss regularly, the gums will stop bleeding. Which has sometimes motivated me to keep it up until that happens. But then weird-brain kicks in, and I decide that I have won this round, and don't have to floss anymore. Oddly, the bleeding gums have become the motivator, rather than the not-bleeding gums. Oops.

I ran across someone saying that water flossers work really well, even for people who don't use them expertly. I do not know if this is true, but I hope so. I bought portable water flosser, which seems to work very well. For a while, the joy of playing with new technology kicked in, and I was using it really regularly. But then the shiny wore off, and the gums weren't bleeding, and...enter magical virtual pets!

I joined Habitica. You assign yourself tasks, and the difficulty level. And you gets points when you complete them, go up in levels, get eggs that can hatch into pets, which you can feed up to trusty steeds, and stuff. You can also set up negative reinforcements. (Negative reinforcement, here, used in the colloquial rather than technical sense.) If you assign a task as a daily, and fail to do it, you lose points. I am aware that I am easily demotivated by negative reinforcement, so I have set up my dailies very sparingly. Things I really, really want to make sure I do, like scraping cat boxes, go on the Dailies. I'm listing almost all my chores as To Dos. Things like, emptying the dishwasher, washing bathroom fixtures, and laundry. To Dos don't cause damage if you don't get them done, but do advance you if you do them. One weirdly perverse thing is that the longer you leave a task on, the more it's worth when you finish it. That seems like rewarding procrastination... But so far it hasn't seemed to influence my choices.

I've been doing this for about two months, and it really does seem to be helping. I am getting many, many more of my chores done. I am also entering good intentions, like calling politicians and the like, into my To Do list, and many of them get done, too. So this is a huge win, for me. I don't know if it will continue, long term. Brains, as I've said, are weird. And so I may burn out on it. But so far, so good.

I also like the feature where you can "quest" with a fellow Habitican. Basically, you agree to work together, and you not only accrue points, but you do damage to a monster or find quest tokens or some damn thing, and when you defeat your monster or find your quest tokens or however the quest is structured, you get extra goodies. I've been playing with [livejournal.com profile] boxofdelights and that's been delightful. The idea is that you are supposed to cheer each other on. However, neither of us seems to be a rah-rah sort of person, and that is very nice for me. I would really hate it is I had a questing partner who was really enthusiastic. It's not that she's not supportive and stuff, 'cause she totally is. But I don't like cheerleadering. I hope she's ok with the fact that I'm not much of a cheerleader, either.

There's some political activist challenges, similar to quests, that I'm contemplating joining. But I am hesitant to let other people decide what should be on my To Do list. But, it might be motivating. And people, we need to be motivated right now. Even if it's only for virtual magical pets.

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