Author Topic: How do you stay motivated at work?  (Read 8385 times)

ChpBstrd

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How do you stay motivated at work?
« on: January 19, 2017, 08:58:23 AM »
MMM points out that his FI was enabled by an optimism-driven, hardcore work ethic that earned him promotion after promotion. The saving part is easy, it's this motivation issue I struggle with. I show up to work every day and have to grit my teeth to get started on the first thing. I daydream. I distract myself on my cell phone so badly I have to leave it in the car. I watch the clock. I find myself struggling to pay attention in meetings. Every day is like going to the DMV.

I consider this to be an emergency just like credit card debt. This motivational problem could lead to getting fired some day, not to mention daily life being less satisfying!  At least with credit card debt, there's a clear answer. With this one, I'm at my wit's end and need your fresh ideas.

Here's what I've tried so far:

1) Vacations: little effect.

2) Career Change: I've completely changed careers twice after devoting years to each career, each time at enormous cost. I'm done making the excuse that I'm just doing the wrong thing. The problem is definitely me. I have almost zero complaints about my current job. It's me.

3) Rational Approach: I'm aware that I'm making the best money of my life working sub-40 hour weeks in a laid-back and comfortable office. I'm aware that this job will enable me to FIRE, maybe within 7-10 years. I'm aware that I have it made beyond most people's wildest dreams. I make myself little notes and reminders of these facts. None of this actually motivates me, even though it should. It's like trying to convince a kid of all the reasons to do homework when they really want to go outside and play.

4) Reading: Before ER bloggers, I tried a few books. Most were variants of the rational approach.

Interestingly, I'm motivated just fine in my non-work life. Off hours, I accomplish all sorts of cool things. Put me in a gray cubicle though...

So what motivates you (It might not be what you think it is)? Has anyone been able to reverse this issue?

brian313313

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Re: How do you stay motivated at work?
« Reply #1 on: January 19, 2017, 09:15:12 AM »
I've been there but fortunately, I'm not currently. One of the things I do is to always push my skills forward. I am pretty close to the top of my technical specialty but whenever I decide to be lazy about keeping up with my skills, I start getting bored which sounds like some of what you're experiencing. I do end up switching jobs a lot which keeps things interesting. I average about once/year and generally stick to contracting because of this. Currently I'm an employee and coming up on my two year anniversary. I was a contractor until Dec but feel like I'll be here another year at least.

As I age (50 now), this is also getting easier to deal with. I just accept that things are the way they are. It's nothing I did intentionally, it just happened.

Also, I don't evaluate if I like my job on Monday. On Monday, I don't lol.


tooqk4u22

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Re: How do you stay motivated at work?
« Reply #2 on: January 19, 2017, 10:23:15 AM »
I understand completely.

I consider this to be an emergency just like credit card debt. This motivational problem could lead to getting fired some day, not to mention daily life being less satisfying!  At least with credit card debt, there's a clear answer. With this one, I'm at my wit's end and need your fresh ideas.

Depends where you are in your FIRE process but yeah I agree its a pretty good emergency if you have a long way to go.

Here's what I've tried so far:

1) Vacations: little effect.   Same here

2) Career Change: I've completely changed careers twice after devoting years to each career, each time at enormous cost. I'm done making the excuse that I'm just doing the wrong thing. The problem is definitely me. I have almost zero complaints about my current job. It's me.  Haven't done this but have changed companies...primary reason for not changing has been either (1) wasn't worth the risk of something that I "might" like and more likely will turn out to be more of the same BS in a different field but now with lower pay/more hours (f that), or  (2) doing something that I "know" I will like even with lower pay except I have no idea what that is so it always reverts to #1.

3) Rational Approach: I'm aware that I'm making the best money of my life working sub-40 hour weeks in a laid-back and comfortable office. I'm aware that this job will enable me to FIRE, maybe within 7-10 years. I'm aware that I have it made beyond most people's wildest dreams. I make myself little notes and reminders of these facts. None of this actually motivates me, even though it should. It's like trying to convince a kid of all the reasons to do homework when they really want to go outside and play.  Same here, I just muscle through it but it gets worse the closer you get to FIRE

4) Reading: Before ER bloggers, I tried a few books. Most were variants of the rational approach.  Yup, almost all BS....find your bliss or passion, if you enjoy what you do you never work a day in your life....blah blah blah

Interestingly, I'm motivated just fine in my non-work life. Off hours, I accomplish all sorts of cool things. Put me in a gray cubicle though...  Same here


I am pretty close to the top of my technical specialty but whenever I decide to be lazy about keeping up with my skills, I start getting bored which sounds like some of what you're experiencing.

For me work has always been more enjoyable when I was learning a lot and very very busy (even if that results in a stress as a partial offset), but when I am slower or so called expert in my field it is tougher for me....if I was more motivated by money it would probably be different. 

Laura33

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Re: How do you stay motivated at work?
« Reply #3 on: January 19, 2017, 10:31:20 AM »
Have you been checked for ADHD or depression?  I mean that seriously -- I have self-diagnosed with the daydreamy/distracted version of ADHD (no one thought about this when I was a kid, and certainly not for a girl).  Trying to get myself to focus on stuff I "should" do is like trying to shove the south poles of two magnets together -- my brain just skitters off to something, anything more interesting (up to and including organizing my sock drawer), and even when I can force myself to focus, my brain feels like a hummingbird bouncing back and forth against the walls of its cage.  It is freaking exhausting.  The only thing that helps me focus in that situation is a huge looming deadline that overwhelms the boredom with an overwhelm fear of imminent doom and colossal failure.  OTOH, the stuff I am interested in, you can't pull me away from.

I would say that if you see this pattern in yourself, go to the doc -- there are meds and brain exercises and all sorts of other things out there that didn't exist when we were kids

Shanksy

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Re: How do you stay motivated at work?
« Reply #4 on: January 19, 2017, 10:43:00 AM »
I struggle with getting bored and slowly starting to resent and hate my job as well. I find that I have a time limit for doing the same thing over and over again. It's about 2 years. I've managed to push it out with my current career because I've been promoted twice and moved locations twice, thereby changing the scope of my job just enough to keep me engaged. I wouldn't call myself openly ambitious but because I'm easily bored I do start planning for my next GOAL almost immediately. At first it was get promoted, then it was become licensed (studying for tests keeps me pretty busy), then I started thinking about trying to go for my bosses job. Around that point I realized it was highly competitive within my company for anything above my current position and I started thinking I might want something with more flexibility and more time off around holidays. That's when I discovered the MMM website and read everything from the beginning of time and realized the error of my ways. I dabbled with groupon and couponing and found a great deal on a self paced real estate class and I started dreaming really big. CRAZY BIG!

tl/dr - corporate jobs suck. imma try and do my own thing. but like kinda part time at first because money.

birdiegirl

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Re: How do you stay motivated at work?
« Reply #5 on: January 19, 2017, 10:43:37 AM »
Wow - you described my situation almost exactly!   I'm very curious to hear what other approaches people have found.   I've tried all the same things you have except the career change...considered that but the only other options that interested me would take lots of $$ and years for more schooling. 

The vacations & reading seem to make it even a bit harder for me.  It's harder to focus & care about work when I know there's a more interesting world out there and I'm stuck in the office.   I know I'm very fortunate to make a good salary with normal hours and work close to home but I still feel like I'm missing out because I'm stuck here 5 days a week. 

One thing I've considered is going part time - will probably still be quite a while before I have that option.  Have you thought about part time work?  It would probably delay your ultimate FIRE date but might make the time between now and then more enjoyable.   

MichaelB

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Re: How do you stay motivated at work?
« Reply #6 on: January 19, 2017, 10:47:24 AM »
Posting to follow. I'm in that exact same boat and I have no answers.

marielle

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Re: How do you stay motivated at work?
« Reply #7 on: January 19, 2017, 11:00:30 AM »
I could have written this post, minus the changing careers part. Probably even worse in my situation because I literally just started my career and I'm bored. It could be the job, I don't know. Classmates with the same degree seem to be having more fun at their jobs but it's easy to pretend and spin off small parts of a job as something you do constantly. I should be thankful, I make 3x as much as a labor job for easy desk work. I even have my own office! But I guess humans always go back to "baseline happiness" no matter whether you win the lottery or become paralyzed neck down...

I don't really have too much advice though...maybe listen to podcasts if you have to do menial/tedious work? Also, don't feel guilty for taking short breaks occasionally to browse the web or goof off. It's normal. I also find it helps to hide the clock on my computer/phone (or just don't be aware of it) because time passes slower for me when I constantly look at it.

frugalecon

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Re: How do you stay motivated at work?
« Reply #8 on: January 19, 2017, 11:23:35 AM »
I struggle with this issue as well. I agree with the comment that it is easier when things are very busy. At times like that it seems that the weeks just melt away.

For me, it is easier when I have some good, quality work colleague relationships. When I feel isolated, I feel much more "bleah."


Shanksy

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Re: How do you stay motivated at work?
« Reply #9 on: January 19, 2017, 11:32:06 AM »
Ok this might sound ridiculous and maybe you already do something of the sort, but I make lists. It's absolutely my favorite thing to cross things I've accomplished off of lists. When things get boring or crazy or both, I make lists, especially at work (but also in my free time because I love lists), and I always include really easy things at the top. #1 - Check phone messages. #2 - print out important emails etc etc (on my days off they look like this #1 - make the bed, which I do everyday incidentally #2 - exercise #3 - take a shower). Then I get the satisfaction of crossing things off almost immediately.

I'm lucky in that I interact with people on a daily basis and I enjoy the people that I work with so even if I'm dreading going to work, I usually end up partially enjoying my time with people who are pretty cool and fun to be around regardless of the fact that I'm at work. I think what bothers me most is how much money I'm making other people, because I'm super good at what I do and I've made my location very profitable and it runs very smoothly because of my oversight and training and making sure to have the best people on board, so the company is making loads of money off of my hard work and I just think if only I could monetize my time in the same way and turn that hard work and effort into money in my own pocket, I'd be like a million (mind the pun) times happier.

#1 - make a list #2 - cross things off and feel empowered #3 - profit!!!?????

NV Teacher

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Re: How do you stay motivated at work?
« Reply #10 on: January 19, 2017, 01:37:25 PM »
I'm stuck in a room with seven year-olds all day.  If I'm not focused and in the game it's chaos and mayhem. 

ChpBstrd

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Re: How do you stay motivated at work?
« Reply #11 on: January 19, 2017, 03:49:24 PM »
Have you been checked for ADHD or depression?  I mean that seriously -- I have self-diagnosed with the daydreamy/distracted version of ADHD (no one thought about this when I was a kid, and certainly not for a girl).  Trying to get myself to focus on stuff I "should" do is like trying to shove the south poles of two magnets together -- my brain just skitters off to something, anything more interesting (up to and including organizing my sock drawer), and even when I can force myself to focus, my brain feels like a hummingbird bouncing back and forth against the walls of its cage.  It is freaking exhausting.  The only thing that helps me focus in that situation is a huge looming deadline that overwhelms the boredom with an overwhelm fear of imminent doom and colossal failure.  OTOH, the stuff I am interested in, you can't pull me away from.

I would say that if you see this pattern in yourself, go to the doc -- there are meds and brain exercises and all sorts of other things out there that didn't exist when we were kids

Very good point.

I've considered a counselor specializing in career issues or attention issues. Yet it strikes me as strange that I've been able to accomplish things like earning my MBA with straight A's if I have a systemic disorder. Maybe that's not so strange.

I was put on Ritalin as a kid, but hey, who wasn't?

I've considered that my job might not be challenging enough... but actually there are all sorts of opportunities to excel at my job, build new systems, build relationships, etc. Still it feels like jail.

ChpBstrd

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Re: How do you stay motivated at work?
« Reply #12 on: January 19, 2017, 03:56:53 PM »
Ok this might sound ridiculous and maybe you already do something of the sort, but I make lists. It's absolutely my favorite thing to cross things I've accomplished off of lists. When things get boring or crazy or both, I make lists, especially at work (but also in my free time because I love lists), and I always include really easy things at the top. #1 - Check phone messages. #2 - print out important emails etc etc (on my days off they look like this #1 - make the bed, which I do everyday incidentally #2 - exercise #3 - take a shower). Then I get the satisfaction of crossing things off almost immediately.

I'm lucky in that I interact with people on a daily basis and I enjoy the people that I work with so even if I'm dreading going to work, I usually end up partially enjoying my time with people who are pretty cool and fun to be around regardless of the fact that I'm at work. I think what bothers me most is how much money I'm making other people, because I'm super good at what I do and I've made my location very profitable and it runs very smoothly because of my oversight and training and making sure to have the best people on board, so the company is making loads of money off of my hard work and I just think if only I could monetize my time in the same way and turn that hard work and effort into money in my own pocket, I'd be like a million (mind the pun) times happier.

#1 - make a list #2 - cross things off and feel empowered #3 - profit!!!?????

Great suggestion. It could be that I'm lacking a system of satisfying short-term rewards like you describe. I did well in school, but maybe that's because I got to see that A on my paper by the end of the week. Work doesn't do that.

I intermittently do lists. I wonder how I could make crossing things off more satisfying? Maybe add some celebratory ritual or self-congratulation?

gipsygrrl

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Re: How do you stay motivated at work?
« Reply #13 on: January 19, 2017, 04:14:12 PM »
Not sure if our situations are similar or what your career field allows, but for me it was all about getting out of the cubicle. I HATE being in an office. I feel like I'm in jail. Even if the work is interesting... I just feel like a caged animal pacing the length of my office. When I work from home, I get the same amount of work done in half the time and I can intersperse that work with a quick dog walk, a trip to the gym, etc.

I know everyone is different with how well they work from home, but for me having my own space and having some flexibility with my schedule seems like the key to enjoying my career.

brian313313

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Re: How do you stay motivated at work?
« Reply #14 on: January 19, 2017, 04:54:06 PM »
I was also a 4.0 student. Might be something that goes together. Perhaps it's harder to find a challenge when you're intelligent. Just a hypothesis. I'm not sure if any research has ever been done into this. Correlation doesn't imply causation though.

Laura33

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Re: How do you stay motivated at work?
« Reply #15 on: January 19, 2017, 08:52:57 PM »

I've considered a counselor specializing in career issues or attention issues. Yet it strikes me as strange that I've been able to accomplish things like earning my MBA with straight A's if I have a systemic disorder. Maybe that's not so strange.

Not even close to strange - I was all the Latin stuff too.  The lightbulb for me was learning that ADHD doesn't mean you can't focus, it's that you can't focus appropriately.  So in the same way you can't focus on stuff you don't care about, you hyperfocus on stuff that interests you.  Luckily for me, that was most academics (my freshman year of college I got so engrossed in a calculus problem set that I lost three hours -- I could have sworn it was 15-20 minutes). 

The problem is that it's hard to replicate that in the work world, when you don't have papers and problem sets each week, and where classes don't change every few weeks.  The only way I have found to replicate that in the job world is when I am overwhelmingly busy and the boredom is superseded by panic.  Luckily, cramming is my superpower, so I have managed to get by without crashing and burning.  :-). But it does take a toll, and I'm finding it harder and harder as I get older.

ChpBstrd

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Re: How do you stay motivated at work?
« Reply #16 on: January 20, 2017, 06:27:52 AM »
The ADHD thing is a promising lead, but I also worry about the direction it takes when I decide to slap that label on myself. It could easily become an excuse for something I could have addressed through new and improved techniques, like sleep hygenie, list routines, meditation, exercise, brain training, etc. These concerns don't make it any less likely of course, but there is a trap to self-diagnosis.

AZDude

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Re: How do you stay motivated at work?
« Reply #17 on: January 20, 2017, 09:52:16 AM »
There is nothing wrong with you, first. People are not supposed to like their jobs. People are not meant to enjoy being tethered to an office chair and a cubicle for 40 hours a week. Accept you will never be happy in your job.

It sounds like you have plenty of things going on outside of work.

My advice would be different than most. Learn how to work smart, not hard. Figure out what is neccessary to avoid getting fired and what is not. Do the minimum. Take long lunches, even if you are taking a walk. Write a story at your desk. Try to publish that on Amazon just for fun. Find ways to distract yourself at work.

Embrace the idea that the cubicle is a prison and you are just putting in your time. Good luck.

Poundwise

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Re: How do you stay motivated at work?
« Reply #18 on: January 20, 2017, 10:36:02 AM »
I agree about having a list, and it also helps to have a plant or something living on your desk. Do you have natural light or a chance to go outside, even for 5 minutes, every once in a while?

Do you ever have the chance to work from home, and do you concentrate better there?

ChpBstrd

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Re: How do you stay motivated at work?
« Reply #19 on: January 20, 2017, 11:32:42 AM »
There is nothing wrong with you, first. People are not supposed to like their jobs. People are not meant to enjoy being tethered to an office chair and a cubicle for 40 hours a week. Accept you will never be happy in your job.

It sounds like you have plenty of things going on outside of work.

My advice would be different than most. Learn how to work smart, not hard. Figure out what is neccessary to avoid getting fired and what is not. Do the minimum. Take long lunches, even if you are taking a walk. Write a story at your desk. Try to publish that on Amazon just for fun. Find ways to distract yourself at work.

Embrace the idea that the cubicle is a prison and you are just putting in your time. Good luck.

LOL, as my dad often reminds me, work is a four-letter word.

However, the nature of the problem is how to get motivated to pursue the following goals:

1) promotion and not getting canned: requires performance to increase over time.
2) making work relatively stimulating, rather than watching the time go by: requires a new outlook.

ChpBstrd

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Re: How do you stay motivated at work?
« Reply #20 on: January 20, 2017, 11:35:26 AM »
Another possibility is that I need a low-information diet. I'm a news/internet addict, and spending time on these activities is the equivalent of brain training for a short attention span, passive rather than active control of one's thoughts, and distractability.

MichaelB

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Re: How do you stay motivated at work?
« Reply #21 on: January 20, 2017, 11:45:16 AM »
Another possibility is that I need a low-information diet. I'm a news/internet addict, and spending time on these activities is the equivalent of brain training for a short attention span, passive rather than active control of one's thoughts, and distractability.

At the risk of jumping on a trendy bandwagon, are you familiar with techniques like meditation and mindfulness? I'm not regular with it like I ought to be, but it's a tremendous help for getting my distractible monkey brain to calm down/focus a bit. Quick primer here: http://www.sidehustlenation.com/happiness-meditation-habit/

Retire-Canada

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Re: How do you stay motivated at work?
« Reply #22 on: January 20, 2017, 12:35:51 PM »
So what motivates you (It might not be what you think it is)? Has anyone been able to reverse this issue?

Honestly needing money has me working. That's it. I do not love it at least not in a FT scenario. Maybe I'll love it 10-20hrs a week??

I am terribly motivated. Always have been. Weird thing is it doesn't seem to matter. I don't go around saying I hate work or that I wish I was not at work, but I don't pretend I love it either. I'm honest about needing the money and using it to support my life goals.

What surprises me is that I still do just fine. People like me and the work I do. I get paid well and haven't had any trouble finding or keeping work. Clients come back to me and request my help later on so they are clearly satisfied. I sometimes wonder what kind of rockstar in the business world I might become if I gave a shit, but since I don't I'll never know.

I have personal friends who know how unmotivated I am who still offer me work and want me on their teams.

Things I do ensure:

- I'm honest
- if you tell me you need help I solve your problem
- I don't work extra or stay late just to be "that guy"
- OTOH if there is an emergency I'll there with you 24/7 to solve it with you

When I started the current contract my client is a work-a-holic....like 7 days a week 12hrs a day+. I sat him down right away and said "Look I don't believe in working hard. I beleive in getting shit done and going home. If you need anything from you are not getting let me know I'll make it happen. Otherwise I'm going to be efficient and go home early."  He had no issues with that and we still work together 3yrs+ later.

So I have no suggestions other than to say maybe it's not a problem. Do you get poor performance reviews? Does your boss ever complain or comment on your attitude? Have you been fired for not giving a shit in the past?

Jon_Snow

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Re: How do you stay motivated at work?
« Reply #23 on: January 20, 2017, 01:07:38 PM »
I'm heading into my 3rd year of FIRE. How did I stay motivated to get here?

I've always possessed a high work ethic...I simply cannot "dog it"...in ANYTHING.  This resulted in being offered promotions even when I wasn't actively pursuing them - a hard worker was prized in my industry...even over people who may have been better at certain "technical" aspects than myself. Also, if I wasn't "on the ball" I could have been killed on the job site many times over. Several close calls anyway.

And because of certain unique aspects of my life "setup" (great people, incredible geography) I knew that FIRE (for years I called it ER) could deliver me the most personal happiness. Over the accumulation phase I developed a specific VISION...a plan of what the days, weeks, and years of FIRE would consist of. Spending time in these places that I love doing things that I love...WITHOUT LIMITS. Immense personal freedom. The appeal of this was a powerful motivator for me. My visualizations of what my FIRE-days would be like may have become obsessive at times - when work became particularly challenging, I could almost "escape" into that place for a while....sort of like Max in COLLATERAL...with his little tropical island postcard on the sun visor of his taxi. :)

With each raise or promotion the reality that I could do this, in my early 40's (in retrospect, could have been earlier) became clearer...and eventually a certainty.

The reality of it has been better than I could ever have foreseen. In other words, so worth staying motivated for. :)

AZDude

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Re: How do you stay motivated at work?
« Reply #24 on: January 20, 2017, 01:27:50 PM »
There is nothing wrong with you, first. People are not supposed to like their jobs. People are not meant to enjoy being tethered to an office chair and a cubicle for 40 hours a week. Accept you will never be happy in your job.

It sounds like you have plenty of things going on outside of work.

My advice would be different than most. Learn how to work smart, not hard. Figure out what is neccessary to avoid getting fired and what is not. Do the minimum. Take long lunches, even if you are taking a walk. Write a story at your desk. Try to publish that on Amazon just for fun. Find ways to distract yourself at work.

Embrace the idea that the cubicle is a prison and you are just putting in your time. Good luck.

LOL, as my dad often reminds me, work is a four-letter word.

However, the nature of the problem is how to get motivated to pursue the following goals:

1) promotion and not getting canned: requires performance to increase over time.
2) making work relatively stimulating, rather than watching the time go by: requires a new outlook.

Work smart. Find out what is important to your boss. Make sure that work is always on-time and of the highest quality. The rest of the work just gets the half-ass treatment. If there is a special project, volunteer for it. Volunteer for the occasional on-call duty or whatever. Chances are your boss has no idea what you do on a daily basis. Figure when the boss is actually watching and make that time count. Go the extra mile, but only when you know it will be worth it.

As far as making your stimulating, look for ways to do things outside your normal duties that would be interesting. I once wrote software that automated a manual process on a whim without any direction whatsoever because it sounded much more interesting than my normal routine. That got noticed. I got a nice bonus and raise. This despite the fact that I left early once a week for a year straight so I could go hang out with some friends. Not like 30 minutes early, like 3 hours early. No one cared, because I had "proven" myself already.

Laura33

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Re: How do you stay motivated at work?
« Reply #25 on: January 20, 2017, 01:57:01 PM »
The ADHD thing is a promising lead, but I also worry about the direction it takes when I decide to slap that label on myself. It could easily become an excuse for something I could have addressed through new and improved techniques, like sleep hygenie, list routines, meditation, exercise, brain training, etc. These concerns don't make it any less likely of course, but there is a trap to self-diagnosis.

Yes, of course.  And not to beat the ADHD drum, but that's a common misconception -- if you go to any reputable practitioner, they will treat meds as a last resort, something you do in addition to all that stuff.  So if all that works, well, yay, you're "fixed" and you don't need meds. (Which, alas, is where I am -- I wish for a magic pill, but I have developed good enough work-arounds that the docs won't prescribe anything).

Plus, if you're at all like me, you've already slapped damaging labels on yourself (mine were "lazy" and "flake").  Discovering that it was actually a "thing" -- that it was the way I was wired, not a character flaw; that some of the problems that held me back (boredom) went hand-in-hand with the gifts that helped me succeed (hyperfocus) -- was actually rather freeing.  It didn't fix anything, but it freed me from a lot of the self-recrimination when I did the same. stupid. thing. again.  And that, in turn, actually helped me to think more objectively about the specific problem/issue and how I can fix it. 

As in all things, YMMV.  But worth checking out maybe before tossing this career out the window?

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Re: How do you stay motivated at work?
« Reply #26 on: January 20, 2017, 02:07:29 PM »
Another possibility is that I need a low-information diet. I'm a news/internet addict, and spending time on these activities is the equivalent of brain training for a short attention span, passive rather than active control of one's thoughts, and distractability.

This stood out to me, because I have the same issue...I feel I have gotten much dumber since it became possible to just sit around consuming information all day!

With regards to work, last year I took a time-management course (my employer paid for it).  One thing they stressed was that you need to spend less time on things like email. As a result, I have been trying to make a habit of each morning coming in and NOT checking my email.  I have a checklist of routine work things I "ought" to go through each morning.  On mornings when I get in, sit down, and start going through the checklist, then break and check email after an hour or so...I am MUCH more productive and enjoy being at work much more.  If I start my day checking email, it soon leads to internet news, too much MMM browsing...and next thing you know, my day has been shot and I wonder why the hell I am there at all.

ChpBstrd

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Re: How do you stay motivated at work?
« Reply #27 on: January 20, 2017, 08:45:24 PM »
I'm heading into my 3rd year of FIRE. How did I stay motivated to get here?

I've always possessed a high work ethic...I simply cannot "dog it"...in ANYTHING.  This resulted in being offered promotions even when I wasn't actively pursuing them - a hard worker was prized in my industry...even over people who may have been better at certain "technical" aspects than myself. Also, if I wasn't "on the ball" I could have been killed on the job site many times over. Several close calls anyway.

And because of certain unique aspects of my life "setup" (great people, incredible geography) I knew that FIRE (for years I called it ER) could deliver me the most personal happiness. Over the accumulation phase I developed a specific VISION...a plan of what the days, weeks, and years of FIRE would consist of. Spending time in these places that I love doing things that I love...WITHOUT LIMITS. Immense personal freedom. The appeal of this was a powerful motivator for me. My visualizations of what my FIRE-days would be like may have become obsessive at times - when work became particularly challenging, I could almost "escape" into that place for a while....sort of like Max in COLLATERAL...with his little tropical island postcard on the sun visor of his taxi. :)

With each raise or promotion the reality that I could do this, in my early 40's (in retrospect, could have been earlier) became clearer...and eventually a certainty.

The reality of it has been better than I could ever have foreseen. In other words, so worth staying motivated for. :)

Yea, so you have the mentality I want, and don't know how to get.

Thinking of FIRE just makes me mourn my current financially dependent situation, and missing out on yet another day of my life.

Maybe it's the difference between glass-half-full and glass-half-empty thinking. Optimism sounds like fun, but it's hard to relate. I read about optimists and wonder how they make improvements if they don't see problems, deal with or ignore suffering around them, or avoid losing everything replicating some blogger's surefire penny stock trade. Do they shift gears on the hills, but stay in O most of the time?

I suspect a low-information diet is required to sustain optimism. The daily news feed seems designed to provoke anxiety (And guess what? You'll have to check the news again to see what happens next. More clicks!!). Social media is depressing for anyone with an IQ over clams, yet it is addictive.

Novik

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Re: How do you stay motivated at work?
« Reply #28 on: January 22, 2017, 12:26:52 PM »
I want to quote  so many pieces of this conversation... really resonating with me. I have a really hard time focusing on what I "should" be doing at work, but I can accomplish so many things when I have a long list and am able to jump between them (at work or in my personal life). Or when there's a looming deadline. Or when the problem is actually fascinating.

Like others in this thread, the ADHD/ADD label rings a lot of bells for me, but not quite enough to seek a diagnosis. Whether that's because I was more daydreamy than hyperactive as a little girl, or because I have a high intelligence and a fast processing speed to make up for focus/executive function challenges, or because I have an intense system of lists and spreadsheets and routines to keep me on track... I don't know.

I do know I feel like a failure at work more than anywhere else in my life, and given that some days I love my job and I have an objectively awesome job and office, that's really hard. I'm hoping to draw on everyone else here for some ideas to make it better.

marty998

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Re: How do you stay motivated at work?
« Reply #29 on: January 22, 2017, 01:52:16 PM »
I've always possessed a high work ethic...I simply cannot "dog it"...in ANYTHING.  This resulted in being offered promotions even when I wasn't actively pursuing them - a hard worker was prized in my industry...even over people who may have been better at certain "technical" aspects than myself.

This is true for me to. I was given increased responsibilities last week - which were certainly not asked for. If you work hard and smart and make money for the Company they will look after you.


Work smart. Find out what is important to your boss. Make sure that work is always on-time and of the highest quality. The rest of the work just gets the half-ass treatment. If there is a special project, volunteer for it. Volunteer for the occasional on-call duty or whatever. Chances are your boss has no idea what you do on a daily basis. Figure when the boss is actually watching and make that time count. Go the extra mile, but only when you know it will be worth it.

Agree with all of this.

Playing with Fire UK

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Re: How do you stay motivated at work?
« Reply #30 on: January 23, 2017, 05:46:32 AM »
Not even close to strange - I was all the Latin stuff too.  The lightbulb for me was learning that ADHD doesn't mean you can't focus, it's that you can't focus appropriately.  So in the same way you can't focus on stuff you don't care about, you hyperfocus on stuff that interests you.  Luckily for me, that was most academics (my freshman year of college I got so engrossed in a calculus problem set that I lost three hours -- I could have sworn it was 15-20 minutes). 

The problem is that it's hard to replicate that in the work world, when you don't have papers and problem sets each week, and where classes don't change every few weeks.  The only way I have found to replicate that in the job world is when I am overwhelmingly busy and the boredom is superseded by panic.  Luckily, cramming is my superpower, so I have managed to get by without crashing and burning.  :-). But it does take a toll, and I'm finding it harder and harder as I get older.

This is so me. I'm interested in any resources you found helpful.

Laura33

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Re: How do you stay motivated at work?
« Reply #31 on: January 23, 2017, 06:32:01 AM »
Not even close to strange - I was all the Latin stuff too.  The lightbulb for me was learning that ADHD doesn't mean you can't focus, it's that you can't focus appropriately.  So in the same way you can't focus on stuff you don't care about, you hyperfocus on stuff that interests you.  Luckily for me, that was most academics (my freshman year of college I got so engrossed in a calculus problem set that I lost three hours -- I could have sworn it was 15-20 minutes). 

The problem is that it's hard to replicate that in the work world, when you don't have papers and problem sets each week, and where classes don't change every few weeks.  The only way I have found to replicate that in the job world is when I am overwhelmingly busy and the boredom is superseded by panic.  Luckily, cramming is my superpower, so I have managed to get by without crashing and burning.  :-). But it does take a toll, and I'm finding it harder and harder as I get older.

This is so me. I'm interested in any resources you found helpful.

Hah -- I only wish.  The first bit was reading about ADHD, specifically the inattentive version, to really see myself and recognize the behaviors/thinking patterns.  There are a variety of books that focus on organization for teens/adults with ADHD, which have specific useful tactics, but I have found those more helpful for daily non-work life and for managing all the kid stuff (e.g., put everything you need for work in front of the door so you literally can't walk out without it).  In terms of job/career, most of what has kept me going is an irrational fear of poverty and an equally-sized fear of failure -- that's what kicks me into gear at the last minute.  The best I have done is to try to recognize what motivates me and what doesn't and work with that instead of against it. 

For me, some of the things that have worked at various times:  I do best in jobs where my responsibilities and deadlines are externally-imposed vs. self-managed.  I do better with variation instead of the same thing every day.  I avoid projects that require attention to detail -- I'm a lawyer and had to learn to force myself to slow down and double-check things, but now that I am more senior, the relief of having associates to keep me straight on the facts is pretty amazing.  I do better when I am too busy than too light.  I do well with work that is mentally challenging; I have always been massively attracted to puzzles and logic games, and so figuring out how a set of regulations fits together, or how we are going to tell the story in a brief, tends to suck me in until I figure it out.  And I do best in a job that requires me to keep learning -- a couple of years ago, I was really getting bored after 20+ years doing the same thing, so I took on a new role doing something completely different; I spent the next year scared shitless while I figured it all out, but it ended up being the best decision I had made in a long time, because it reinvigorated me.  I know I work best under time pressure, so I am on the early shift at home -- I go in early and need to leave by 4 to avoid traffic, get the kids, and go home and make dinner, so at worst, that usually helps kick me into high gear after lunch every day (days when my mom gets the kids and I don't have that deadline, I can fritter away hours and hours).  A job with no internet access would be helpful, but alas, my firm treats us all like grownups.  And when none of that is working, I go home and do Quicken and think through what my budget would be like if I quit today to trigger the fear of poverty (unfortunately, that tactic has become less effective as my 'stache has grown). :-)

Finally, hard exercise outside in the morning before work.  Seriously.  I was most effective and focused when I was in a routine of running before work; it somehow made it much easier to focus for the rest of the day.  Unfortunately, my back won't let me run any more, and I haven't really found a way to recapture that.  Crossfit helps, but it's not the same as being outside.

I think the real key is to think of it as managing a chronic disease vs. expecting a "cure" if I can just find the silver bullet.  I am just wired this way, so the best I can do is come up with a series of work-arounds.  But each one is going to work for only so long.  So when one approach stops working, instead of getting frustrated that I am falling back into the same bad habits *again*, I need to figure out a different way to attack it.

Playing with Fire UK

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Re: How do you stay motivated at work?
« Reply #32 on: January 23, 2017, 06:42:53 AM »
Thanks Laura33!

dorf

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Re: How do you stay motivated at work?
« Reply #33 on: January 23, 2017, 03:36:53 PM »
I'm about 50 and have thought that if ADHD was diagnosed when I was a kid, I would have been labeled.  Adult ADHD could be a thing.  I think I've developed my own coping mechanisms but I occasionally go down the rabbit hole of the internet  If I need to get something done, I need to restrict myself from internet access.

I will check out the websites.  Thanks.


Drifterrider

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Re: How do you stay motivated at work?
« Reply #34 on: January 23, 2017, 06:20:19 PM »
So what motivates you (It might not be what you think it is)?

A six figure salary and a defined benefits plan that I can use in two years. 

ChpBstrd

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Re: How do you stay motivated at work?
« Reply #35 on: January 24, 2017, 09:23:53 PM »
Found this info possibly supporting the low-information diet hypothesis:

http://www.statisticbrain.com/attention-span-statistics/

In a nutshell, the human attention span has decreased from 12 seconds in 2000, to 8.25 seconds today. For comparison, a goddamn goldfish can pay attention for 9 seconds.

A faster internet and constant smartphone usage are the obvious suspects. I can't even stand in line for 30 seconds without glancing at my phone.

If it's the internet that's doing this to me, a simple experiment could be life changing. Could I go without cell phone data for a month, only checking email and paying bills once a week from home? If not, I might have to face up to being an addict. Maybe I'm "normal" but only in a world where everyone's an addict. My cravings for stimulation at work are probably what chemically dependent people feel. If data fasting makes me more focused... a very radical lifestyle change may be in order.

I'll work up the courage for a couple days and maybe give it a shot. If you don't hear back, it worked and I'm happier.

frugalecon

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Re: How do you stay motivated at work?
« Reply #36 on: January 25, 2017, 03:28:51 AM »
A related question I have is whether it gets materially easy or harder as one gets closer to actual retirement. I am about three quarters of the way through my work life, but I still have some years to go. Will my perception of that time be that it is passing faster and faster, or slower and slower? I sometimes marvel that I wake up and it is already Thursday, but then I realize that I have several hundred Thursdays to go.

Hoosier Daddy

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Re: How do you stay motivated at work?
« Reply #37 on: January 25, 2017, 04:34:39 AM »
Have you ever looked into Buddhism? (Secular I mean, not for religious purposes) Do some research into the four noble truths. The first noble truth is that life is suffering and I had previously believed life was perfect and suffering was just a rude intruder. However understanding that life is suffering is actually liberating because the amount you suffer is driven by the variance between your expectations and reality. Expecting to live a "perfect" life in an imperfect world will drive you crazy!

mistershankly

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Re: How do you stay motivated at work?
« Reply #38 on: January 26, 2017, 02:54:38 PM »
Have you ever looked into Buddhism? (Secular I mean, not for religious purposes) Do some research into the four noble truths. The first noble truth is that life is suffering and I had previously believed life was perfect and suffering was just a rude intruder. However understanding that life is suffering is actually liberating because the amount you suffer is driven by the variance between your expectations and reality. Expecting to live a "perfect" life in an imperfect world will drive you crazy!

+1

If "suffering" is too extreme a label, the fundamentals of the first noble truth are that life is ultimately unsatisfactory because of (second noble truth) the craving and attachment to things that are fundamentally impermanent (e.g. good/bad health, material possessions, your favorite college football team contending for the national championship, and more pertinent, your good/bad job situation).  Acknowledging the impermanence of your situation by cultivating mindfulness of every moment of the day (before, during, and after work) really helps to bring some equanimity to the more challenging times with awareness.  A regular meditation practice has really helped me through the restlessness about work and staying the course to FIRE.  I have my moments where I stray and become frustrated but the mindfulness practice has helped me return to the middle path of equanimity. 

Like Hoosier Daddy mentioned, this doesn't have to be a religious commitment at all.  It is (in my case) a set of tools to navigate through the cycle of uncertainties and joys of being alive.

If you enjoy reading, take a look into the works of the Stoics like Seneca and Marcus Aurelius.  I don't think it's coincidental that the same themes and approaches to challenging times have been explored throughout history from Buddhists to Stoics, and I think we can find a great deal of insight by exploring the concepts today.

aspiringnomad

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Re: How do you stay motivated at work?
« Reply #39 on: January 26, 2017, 09:33:20 PM »
Have you ever looked into Buddhism? (Secular I mean, not for religious purposes) Do some research into the four noble truths. The first noble truth is that life is suffering and I had previously believed life was perfect and suffering was just a rude intruder. However understanding that life is suffering is actually liberating because the amount you suffer is driven by the variance between your expectations and reality. Expecting to live a "perfect" life in an imperfect world will drive you crazy!

+1

If "suffering" is too extreme a label, the fundamentals of the first noble truth are that life is ultimately unsatisfactory because of (second noble truth) the craving and attachment to things that are fundamentally impermanent (e.g. good/bad health, material possessions, your favorite college football team contending for the national championship, and more pertinent, your good/bad job situation).  Acknowledging the impermanence of your situation by cultivating mindfulness of every moment of the day (before, during, and after work) really helps to bring some equanimity to the more challenging times with awareness.  A regular meditation practice has really helped me through the restlessness about work and staying the course to FIRE.  I have my moments where I stray and become frustrated but the mindfulness practice has helped me return to the middle path of equanimity. 

Like Hoosier Daddy mentioned, this doesn't have to be a religious commitment at all.  It is (in my case) a set of tools to navigate through the cycle of uncertainties and joys of being alive.

If you enjoy reading, take a look into the works of the Stoics like Seneca and Marcus Aurelius.  I don't think it's coincidental that the same themes and approaches to challenging times have been explored throughout history from Buddhists to Stoics, and I think we can find a great deal of insight by exploring the concepts today.

Just want to add another +1 to all of this. I think there's an MMM post on Stoicism, and for further reading check out Meditations by Marcus Aurelius.

markbike528CBX

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Re: How do you stay motivated at work?
« Reply #40 on: January 27, 2017, 12:16:04 AM »
Volunteer for something YOU find intriguing at work. 
You will learn more than you thought possible.
Assigned crap is usually crap.

Favorite quote of the thread

 ChpBstrd : Social media is depressing for anyone with an IQ over clams, yet it is addictive.

gerardc

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Re: How do you stay motivated at work?
« Reply #41 on: January 27, 2017, 12:47:14 AM »
Read these, that works pretty well:
http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/welcome-to-the-forum/coping-strategies-in-a-corporate-environement-and-'not-giving-a-shit'/

Basically, only focus on work where and when it matters. That and get some goals at work, otherwise you get bored.

Even with all that, you won't be super happy, but it will be tolerable (yes, really).

ChpBstrd

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Re: How do you stay motivated at work?
« Reply #42 on: January 27, 2017, 06:45:16 AM »
So I went 48 hours without any recreational internet usage (paid a couple bills, glanced at email). This post is my first internet-ing in 2 days.

So far, I feel quite a bit more optimistic, focused, and calm.

However, with only a 48 hour test, so this could all be a placebo effect (I do want a simple solution, after all. Plus the definition of placebo effect is how a person feels.). If I was able to sustain the experiment for a couple weeks or a month, I think the results would be harder to explain as a placebo.

I'm ducking back out for a few days. Feel free to keep the conversation going without me.

BFGirl

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Re: How do you stay motivated at work?
« Reply #43 on: January 27, 2017, 10:34:23 AM »
Have you been checked for ADHD or depression?  I mean that seriously -- I have self-diagnosed with the daydreamy/distracted version of ADHD (no one thought about this when I was a kid, and certainly not for a girl).  Trying to get myself to focus on stuff I "should" do is like trying to shove the south poles of two magnets together -- my brain just skitters off to something, anything more interesting (up to and including organizing my sock drawer), and even when I can force myself to focus, my brain feels like a hummingbird bouncing back and forth against the walls of its cage.  It is freaking exhausting.  The only thing that helps me focus in that situation is a huge looming deadline that overwhelms the boredom with an overwhelm fear of imminent doom and colossal failure.  OTOH, the stuff I am interested in, you can't pull me away from.

I would say that if you see this pattern in yourself, go to the doc -- there are meds and brain exercises and all sorts of other things out there that didn't exist when we were kids

This is so me!!!!  I bore easily at a job once I get the hang of it.  Considering switching careers at this point, if I can easily switch departments.
« Last Edit: January 27, 2017, 10:37:10 AM by BFGirl »

Shor

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Re: How do you stay motivated at work?
« Reply #44 on: January 27, 2017, 10:46:11 AM »
So I went 48 hours without any recreational internet usage (paid a couple bills, glanced at email). This post is my first internet-ing in 2 days.

So far, I feel quite a bit more optimistic, focused, and calm.

However, with only a 48 hour test, so this could all be a placebo effect (I do want a simple solution, after all. Plus the definition of placebo effect is how a person feels.). If I was able to sustain the experiment for a couple weeks or a month, I think the results would be harder to explain as a placebo.

I'm ducking back out for a few days. Feel free to keep the conversation going without me.
I would say that it's more like, the result of a placebo effect is how the person feels. Extending the experiment out does not negate the placebo effect.

If you feel better as a result of limiting internet usage, that IS the result. It doesn't matter if the reason is mental, physical, ergonomic posture, or placebo, if you are infact better as a result, then that actually works to improve your overall capacity.

What extending the experiment does do though is to confirm whether the effect is due to limiting internet activity, or just from changing up your usual routine. Either of these could be the cause. But again, don't discount the placebo effect as a bad result. You feel better, you're functioning better, that makes it a real and valid result [for you]!

Could be internet is the cause, it could be that sitting down during your spare time is the cause, it could be what you do instead of browsing the internet is the cause of the effects you are noticing.


My key to focus at work is to be involved with something interesting. Something groundbreaking and new. Something that helps everyone for the better. This will change people's lives, and what we're doing here is a baby step towards a better future! In the future that I am helping to produce: your phone doesn't fry your brains to a crisp! :D

BFGirl

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Re: How do you stay motivated at work?
« Reply #45 on: January 27, 2017, 10:58:45 AM »
The ADHD thing is a promising lead, but I also worry about the direction it takes when I decide to slap that label on myself. It could easily become an excuse for something I could have addressed through new and improved techniques, like sleep hygenie, list routines, meditation, exercise, brain training, etc. These concerns don't make it any less likely of course, but there is a trap to self-diagnosis.

Yes, of course.  And not to beat the ADHD drum, but that's a common misconception -- if you go to any reputable practitioner, they will treat meds as a last resort, something you do in addition to all that stuff.  So if all that works, well, yay, you're "fixed" and you don't need meds. (Which, alas, is where I am -- I wish for a magic pill, but I have developed good enough work-arounds that the docs won't prescribe anything).

Plus, if you're at all like me, you've already slapped damaging labels on yourself (mine were "lazy" and "flake").  Discovering that it was actually a "thing" -- that it was the way I was wired, not a character flaw; that some of the problems that held me back (boredom) went hand-in-hand with the gifts that helped me succeed (hyperfocus) -- was actually rather freeing.  It didn't fix anything, but it freed me from a lot of the self-recrimination when I did the same. stupid. thing. again.  And that, in turn, actually helped me to think more objectively about the specific problem/issue and how I can fix it. 

As in all things, YMMV.  But worth checking out maybe before tossing this career out the window?

Again, I really identify with this!

Schaefer Light

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Re: How do you stay motivated at work?
« Reply #46 on: January 27, 2017, 02:25:55 PM »
I don't.

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Retire-Canada

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Re: How do you stay motivated at work?
« Reply #48 on: January 27, 2017, 05:13:20 PM »
I'm about 50 and have thought that if ADHD was diagnosed when I was a kid, I would have been labeled.  Adult ADHD could be a thing.  I think I've developed my own coping mechanisms but I occasionally go down the rabbit hole of the internet  If I need to get something done, I need to restrict myself from internet access.

I will check out the websites.  Thanks.

I certainly feel like I've got ADHD most of the time. I have a friend with a proper diagnosis and the times I've taken some of his meds sure opened my eyes to what I could accomplish when I stuck with one thing.

That said I get so much done in my life as is I have not felt the need to get a diagnosis or meds.

Part of what makes me feel like such a slacker is I'll be doing 4 non-work things while completing a work task and flashing back and forth between them all. As I noted in a post above I still get so much done when I do focus on work that I out-perform my peers handily.

As long as I don't run into actual problems at work or in my personal life I like being me so I don't want to do anything to change that.