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How can I be a be less disorganized and lazy?

  1. Jan 29, 2014 #1
    I feel like I'm a very bad student. Everytime I try to do homework my mind wanders and I wind up playing online chess games for three hours. I try to pull myself back to homework but after like five minutes I want to play another chess game again. If it's not a chess game it's some kind of online distraction like facebook or whatever. I feel cursed it's like I simply can't sit down and do homework for a good solid period of time. I always find distractions, no matter how hard I try. What's wrong with me? What can I do, I know I actually like the material, in class I follow along with everything. I find the subjects fascinating. It's just when it comes to doing work I get so lazy I hate it. I find distractions and three hours later I realize I wasted all my time. And then I'll go to class and find that I missed a homework assignment or that I forgot we had a test. I feel miserable as a student, I'm failing at all the subjects I love. How can I stop being so easily distracted and focus on doing better in school? Your advice would be appreciated.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 29, 2014 #2
    Make sure your study space doesn't contain a computer. Get dressed (preferrably nicely) and sit down at the library, at 8am, without the computer. Make a routine out of it. But most importantly, no computer.
  4. Jan 29, 2014 #3

    Simon Bridge

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    Sounds like you need to be in a study group - each of you will keep the others on-task.

    Mental exercise is just like physical exercise - easier in a group. It's why people hire a personal trainer and go to gyms, go jogging with someone etc.

    In general - the key for a disorganized person to get more organized is to trick yourself into it so it does not feel like you are being organized. i.e. if you tend to just chuck your clothes on the floor when you get changed - see if you can throw them against a wall. That can feel quite satisfying. Observe which spot on the wall you most consistently throw the clothes against and put a laundry basket on the floor under that spot - voila: washing organized... when the basket is full, do laundry.
    Modify to suit your own psyche.

    Getting a job can increase your focus, so can getting a girlfriend.
    These tend to be harder to do though, especially for someone who has trouble with focus.

    There's always a catch though - nothing is perfect and there will be times when you just have to be bloody-minded with yourself about what you want to achieve.
  5. Jan 29, 2014 #4

    That makes complete sense thank you for the advice
  6. Jan 31, 2014 #5
    If all else fails, set very short term work goals/break schedules; give yourself something very doable. 30 minutes of work followed by a 15 minute break. This is not efficient enough to get you through all of your work, but it can maintain momentum and get the ball rolling. If you're actually interested in what you're doing it can get you hooked; I know that sometimes I am disinclined to work on a problem set, but when I get hooked on a problem I'm completely inclined and interested until the problem gets hopelessly frustrating or I get done.
  7. Feb 3, 2014 #6
    Yeah I've realized there are certain things I like working on over others.
  8. Feb 7, 2014 #7


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    I'd try and develop the right habits and make them as automated as possible for the future. Habits can be good or bad, but the good ones can be formed just like the bad ones.

    Also you should ask yourself if you are apprehensive or anxious about failure: this is something that can play a major role and if it exists then it needs to be dealt with. If there is any truth in this, be honest with yourself and deal with it accordingly.

    Also with regards to motivation, (as has been pointed out above), motivation for others is often a good source for lasting motivation. Whether it involves friends, family, peers, colleagues, or organizations that you involve yourself with, these can provide a great source of motivation.
  9. Feb 10, 2014 #8

    Simon Bridge

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    It's like learning to screw the top back on the toothpaste or keep track of your umbrella.

    Apprehension of failure can be a constructive pressure if it motivates to work - but the anxiety itself can distract from work and one of the reaction to anxiety about work is to make it go away by avoiding the work (the source of the anxiety). It becomes a feedback-loop: fear of failure leads to ditching study leads to failure and more fear of failure so it is even harder to study etc.
    The cycle has to be broken - this is where study groups can help ... you go to the group for the group dynamic: it's a social experience. Of course, for someone who gets anxious about social situations...

    There is a level of dis-function where therapy is called for - that would be outside the scope of this discussion.

  10. Feb 11, 2014 #9
    Thank you everyone. I think there is a part of me that just resists working too hard. I don't want my life to be consumed by work, no matter how important it may seem. Although I do love learning and science and there is nothing else in life I'd rather do, but still I like to have tons of down time. I will consider study groups or something. Staying away from a computer is probably the best advice though.
  11. Feb 11, 2014 #10
    Give up online chess, cold turkey.

    Chess is hard work! So it's not that you're resisting hard work - just doing the wrong kind of hard work.

    Chess is crack cocaine for physicists, Heisenberg's supervisor had to ban him from playing chess completely to get him to concentrate on physics. Don't be tempted to play even one game, it will lead to others, as you have found. It's much easier never to start than to start then stop.

    If you feel too jaded to do homework then go for a brisk walk - you will not be tempted to do that for three hours! Twenty minutes should be enough, and you should then feel more like working.

    Forums are an addiction as well, you might want to consider giving them up! Or if you are finding our advice at all useful, at least limit them (strictly!)
  12. Feb 11, 2014 #11


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    Games are a natural part of our psyche: we are drawn to games and its constructs and this can be seen in all areas of society whether it be in the stadium or in front of the TV or computer screens.

    Personally I think the appeal is in part to do with the uncertainty that games have in combination with things like the fantasy element (it's not real and neither are its consequences) and the ability to engage in something that would not be engaged in if one was to take on the risks in a real life situation.

    Sorry to take this thread slightly off-topic.
  13. Feb 11, 2014 #12
    I wouldn't say give up on games completely, but you have to learn to enjoy them in moderation.

    For example, I played 2 games this morning, then went to work. After work, I studied 3 different areas of mathematics for 6 hours. Now I am playing another game before I sleep.

  14. Feb 12, 2014 #13


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    It's good that you enjoy them in moderation: for some it's a big part of their life and a major struggle for them to escape the fantasy that games provide.
  15. Feb 12, 2014 #14
    What if you can't? Some people can enjoy one drink, and then stop. Others can't stop and become alcoholics.

    Certainly try the moderation route, but if you find you can't stop playing games then total abstinence might be an option to try.

    That's impressive, do you have a job that's easy on the brain?
  16. Feb 12, 2014 #15
    This isn't off topic - good insights like this may help break the addiction!

    Although I get the uncertainty ("will I win if I sacrifice my Q?"...) there's also comfortable certainty ("I'll try it, I'll have a good game anyway, and it's only a game...") As opposed to math homework where you might just get completely stuck!

    And then you start thinking, "If can't get that A I can't go to a good college". Now that's real hard uncertainty! It's much easier to just play a game, to live in that fantasy world, even if that leads to the very hard reality of a McJob and living with your parents forever.

    Keep on bringing up that vision of McJob & living with parents forever to junk the game and get down to homework!
  17. Feb 12, 2014 #16
    Yes if you feel you cannot play them in moderation then it might be best for you to give them up altogether.

    At my job I just have to keep track of a lot of daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly reports. I also have to troubleshoot a massive generator that has an operating system that is half English, half German. I don't read German unfortunately so some things can be tricky. The hardest part is being on call 24/7, but considering my job has given me enough experience that will qualify me for nearly any EET position over the past 5 years I will gladly stick with it for a couple more.

    Yea, this too. I used to be the guy that played video games all the time and didn't study and I never finished the degrees I started. Now that I am 28 I realized that I have to buckle down and push myself to see what my limits are. So far I am completing all work assigned to me early, completing future assignments early, then studying two textbooks that have their own workbooks and online course material on my own.

    If you need motivation, just remember that Nikola Tesla studied up to 20 hours a day when he was in college and when he left college he spoke 6 languages.
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