The Capricious Nature of Motivation. (Meh.)

By Shamus Posted Thursday Nov 1, 2007

Filed under: Personal 32 comments

Yesterday I crossed the finish line on a Big Project at work. It’s been requiring some overtime and after a couple of weeks of being “two days” from the end I was really starting to fatigue. Hopefully my sour mood didn’t come through on the site.

I managed to get through this while keeping up with stuff like this for Chainmail Bikini, meeting my output goals for this website, and still get in some family time here and there. Still, I’ve been looking forward to a break, and for a chance to pursue some side projects that got pushed to the back burner. So now the Big Project at work is (in theory) done and now I can finally get around to…

Erm. Nothing, really.

I’m sitting here with a good three hours to burn any way I dang well please, and I can’t think of a thing in the world I want to do. I have a programming / research / learning project I’ve been itching to work on, and now I don’t even have the energy to try and express my abiding apathy for the thing. I have anime here – good anime – which I don’t want to watch. I have a pile of games here I don’t want to play. Even “surfing the web” seems like a chore, and that’s the twenty-first century equivalent of channel surfing – just click, click, click through the disposable hours by searching out easy-to-digest entertainment. The condition of being “too bored to surf the web” is just one step away from “catatonic”.

This is frustrating. I’m going to pass the time staring at the ceiling, but Real Soon Now I’m going to wish I could have these hours back. Here I am with the vast riches of unallotted time, and I can’t even work up the energy to feel apathetic about the lack of guilt I’m experiencing over all of the things I’m not working on. In fact, I’m so lazy right now that I’m not even going to fix the previous train wreck of a sentence.

And not only am I wasting a bunch of my time, but I’ve just now wasted a couple of minutes of yours. Oops!


From The Archives:

32 thoughts on “The Capricious Nature of Motivation. (Meh.)

  1. Zaghadka says:

    Adventure, excitement – a Jedi craves not these things.

    Think of yourself as an amazing Jedi.

    Thank you for the moment of Zen. I am in the exact same place.

  2. Veloxyll says:

    On the up side, at least you gave something to do for those of us who aren’t too bored to surf the web…yet.

  3. ChattyDm says:

    Being bored is good sometimes… your mind is creaming at you to slow down some.

    Go take a walk, go to the Hardware store, ask you wife if she needs soemthing done (you’ll gain a thousand million Chore Wars/Wife points)

    Or just come on over and read my ramblings on RPGs :)

  4. ChattyDm says:

    Gah! Freudian slip! Creaming = Screaming!

  5. lxs says:

    Naps are very good.

  6. Nefke says:

    Naps are good – is exactly what I was going to say. Try them! ;)

  7. Primogenitor says:

    Naps are …. zzzzzzzz

  8. Phlux says:

    Hey all you napping kids! Wake up!

    There’s more important things to be …zzzzzzzz

  9. M says:


    Naps are…are…

    …what was I saying? *dozes off*

  10. Henebry says:

    This happens to me EVERY time I finish a big project. Really a form of post-partum depression, if you think about it, complete with mental stretch-marks.

  11. Rob says:

    I’m with ya seamus. The other week I had two days off from work and I had been waiting for them for like 2 months thinking of all the stuff I wanted to do. After 2 hours of gaming I stared at the wall for a while trying to figure out what I wanted to do. Bummer. Hope you find something to peak your interest!

  12. Nyxia says:

    Well, you could always ponder the ever-elusive answer to the question: “What is the meaning of life?” or “What is our purpose for being here; and once we realize what it is, won’t that kind of make our lives rather uninteresting, since we already know what we’re here for?”
    And if THAT doesn’t put you to sleep from the sheer exhaustion of trying to make sense of the paradoxical logic, you could always try watching golf.

  13. Krellen says:

    Don’t feel bad about doing nothing with some free time, Shamus. The fact that you can’t build up the energy is just indicative that you need to, in fact, just do nothing. Our brains need time off too. Sometimes sitting in the dark alone – or listening to music, or staring at the TV (the TV is less interactive than the internet, and thus more restful to our minds) – is exactly what you need.

    Especially right after finishing a big project, I wouldn’t sweat wanting to do literally nothing for a while. It’s good for you.

  14. Marmot says:

    That must be a global flu or something, I am feeling exactly the same and can’t bring myself to start writing any of the projects I want to begin, then waste time surfing *your* blog (woooops, apologies!) and wish I had those hours back. Best wishes, for your and mine sake I hope you recover soon!

  15. Taelus says:

    The real question will be are you so uninspired that you won’t even read the comments to your post? Laziness is a remarkable thing that strikes everyone from time to time, but at least yours hit you when you didn’t have a deep need to be productive. My moments of sheer apathy seem to pop up right when I *really* need them not to…

  16. Avaz says:

    Mental stretch marks. *nod* Yeah, that will never get out of my head now. Thanks Henebry. :P

  17. Mark says:

    Just in time for National Novel Writing Month!

  18. Cadamer says:

    Take a nap. In the long run, resting can be some of your most productive time.

  19. DocTwisted says:

    So I suppose this is a bad time to mention that today is the first day of National Novel Writing month?

  20. Marmot says:

    An obligatory “can’t you write novels whenever you want anyway” goes here… :)

  21. food4worms says:

    It’s pretty normal for an introvert (and a thinking one at that) who’s just spent a whole lot of energy up in their head to have their unconscious demand that they take care of their body. Sleep is good, chores are good, walks are fantastic. Go exploring. Oh, and sex is *always* a good idea! ;-)

  22. Sam says:

    “three hours to burn any way I dang well please”

    What’s a dang? Not “proper” language in any case…

  23. CaptainBooshi says:

    I have to say, I know exactly what you mean. I’m a first-year graduate student in physics and astronomy, and that has been happening a lot to me lately. Some days, once I’ve finished everything I need to do now, I don’t even feel like watching something or surfing the net, much less doing something that require mental exertion.

  24. Marty says:

    I am in the same boat as are others I’ve read after something like that.

    One definitely has to have a mental detox sometimes.

    There are two things that I usually do to detoxify after a big project or other mental stress that has recently passed:

    1) On a good weather day (as it is here in the mid-South during fall), I get the hell outside. I don’t even have to do anything, just find myself a comfortable park bench, or seat in the grass to just sit and contemplate nature and let the mind unwind a bit.

    If it’s a moderately warm day where you can nap in the sun, even better.

    But you can only do that for so long so the second thing I do.

    2) Read a book.

    I know we geeky types do that all the time, but the one thing I notice is that I’m more likely to let myself sink into a novel after a big project. Video games, web surfing and TV don’t help because they are the same medium as work for most of us — a video monitor.

    After you’ve been staring at computer monitors hours out of the day for weeks on end, you don’t want to look at more monitors for your entertainment. A book is surprisingly easy on the eyes and the mind and really helps me to unwind.

    I’d hazard a guess that the disinterest in games and anime is at least in part due to the desire to get away from computers and television.

  25. Davesnot says:

    You’re older than you were before.. and now you’re even older….

    you can pass the time by getting older.. I do it all the time! Come! Join our ranks.. you can be the first on your block to get older!! ..

    When you get some energy.. why not program a game that allows one to watch paint dry!! That’d be awsome!!

  26. Davesnot says:

    Better yet.. SimGrass… you have to keep your lawn growing.. make it so you can watch the grass grow from an ant’s perspective!.. Ant Cam!!

  27. Hermes says:

    I thought it was a pretty good sentence.

    Also, I feel like that all the time.

  28. Skjalm says:

    If you find yourself with nothing to do at the beginning of November there’s always ;-)

  29. Maddyanne says:

    Staring at stuff is good. Lie on the floor and stare at the ceiling. Stare at the shelves of books you’re not reading.

    I do think, too, when you’ve been working hard and been really focused for some time on all the things that just have to get done, your brain needs a little quiet time.


  30. rayen says:

    Nap. When i reach that state of “meh” where Tv is boring, the internet is old news and gaming requires to much energy, i nap. Napping helps me catch up on sleep (it’s 2:19 at time of typing) and napping passes half an hour to 5 hours of time for other more interesting people who have stuff to do to make something interesting.

    It’s 2010 and you don’t seem to have time for this advice now but here it is in it’s 3 years too late form.

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