1 Pomodoro, 2 Pomodoro, 3 🍅, 4 🍅, a short break, 5 🍅, 6 🍅, have lunch, procrastinate for 2 hours, 7 🍅, ..., and 11 🍅. And it's already time to sleep! Why is the day so short?

Why does it feel that you have undergone time dilation when you spent the whole day in your room studying and procrastinating? You know time dilation happens when you're having "fun". But you're not having "fun" today, or at least not of the same high intrinsic motivation as you had when working on your side passion projects. You feel that you lose your sense of time in a room without windows (because you're in an inner room in a dormitory). The only thing helping you keep track of time is the digital clock on your taskbar... And that's not as intuitive as the Sun!

How do you maintain engagement and/or motivation in such an environment? How do you thrive despite the unnatural enclosed environment? You're practically halfway to solitary confinement. You get to go outside for bathroom breaks though which is nice.

When you think back to times when your intrinsic motivation is high, you got through the day in such environments by being in a state of flow. Time didn't matter. All that mattered was getting an objective done: the next feature, an MVP, a bug, a problem, a specific set of pages. You were looking to achieve a concrete and specific goal by the end of the day. You had a vision for the day. You knew what next steps to take for your passion project. There was clarity and purpose.

How then do you apply this for other initiatives that are not your passion projects? Without your intrinsic motivation to use as fuel for maintaining focus? How do you thrive despite the environment?

  • Perhaps Pomodoro sessions for when you procrastinate? Just so that you can regain momentum after a prolonged break.
  • How about visualizing the future 1 month, 3 months, 6 months, or 1 year from now? You ask yourself: are you doing yourself a favor and setting yourself up for success?
  • How about being curious and/or connecting the material you're studying to something you're interested in?
  • How about trying to accomplish small wins and building momentum? Remember, how "fun" it was when you were a kid and you were working on the fraction problem sets, canceling factors as if you were slashing them? In your head it was like: "Slash! Slash, slash! Slash, slash, slash! And simplify! Next!"

What other tools and heuristics are there to help you? Time to make a list.