Remember how your mother used to endlessly nag you about cleaning your room or doing your homework? How about your spouse, or a boss? Do they keep telling you to do something until you are so sick of it you could scream? Do you know why good old mommy used that technique? No, it wasn´t to raise her blood pressure. She did it because, eventually, it worked. At some point you caved in and cleaned up, if only to shut her up. It wasn´t necessarily the best or most productive approach she could have employed, but, used occasionally, it proved effective in motivating her teenager. That´s far from an easy task.
Stealing a page from the maternal handbook, there are times that I find it effective to nag myself to get things done. I can´t seem to get the tone of voice quite right, so instead I rely on some simple technology to help me with the nagging. I use the Tasks section of Outlook. If I have an unpleasant task that I need to get to, or an idea that needs to stay near the top of my consciousness, I just set it up as a new Task. I write down a few points that will remind me of what I need to do, or what I have been thinking. Then I set up a reminder (like an alarm which reminds you of the task) for two hours from when I am writing the Task.
Two hours later a reminder pops up on my computer screen complete with a bell and a blinking light that I can´t avoid. The computer is nagging me — bringing the task or idea back to the forefront of my mind. If I don´t want to deal with it then, I just press snooze and the reminder goes away. For two hours, that is. That´s when it pops up again. I could just dismiss the reminder and it would go away for good, but since I am nagging myself anyway, I stick to my own rules and either deal with it or press snooze.
This approach does a couple of things for me. First of all, it gets kind of annoying. The way I can make it go away is by doing whatever I have to do. That´s often enough motivation. More interestingly, though, because I know it is coming back in a couple of hours, the task or idea remains somewhere in my mind, and I end up processing it subconsciously. I will occasionally use the technique for an article idea that I have which isn´t quite complete, for example. After a day or two of the self-nagging, the missing pieces have often appeared and the ideas have often crystallized.
It´s not a graceful or sophisticated solution, but when used sparingly nagging yourself is surprisingly effective. Now go clean your room.