How can I maintain my motivation to solve problems?

  • #1
I have just finished my first year in Physics, and in a few months I will start the second year, and although I have a lot to study I feel I am stuck when I get to solving problems. Its not like I can't solve them, but I simply want to do something else entirely when I get to the problems section of my book, play a game, watch a movie, tv show, or even just stay on my bed and watch the ceiling.

For a few months I learned a lot every day without such problems, but in the past week this feeling appeared. I did have the occasional laziness in the past, and I got over it, but this feels different. Does somebody know what this feeling is and how can I get over it? I have a lot to study. I must be pretty good at general physics when I start the second year because I start the modern physics, so I can't afford to be stuck like this for too long.

Can you help me with some advice from your experience, please?
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
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Same here. I used to be able to do problems almost an entire night, but I've become very lazy and keep postponing them nowadays.
 
  • #3
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I think its a procrastination habit. Read some articles about procrastination and how to avoid it. I've deleted my bookmarks on those links.
 
  • #4
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Stay in the library.
Find a place where you can't really use computer except if you make a effort to walk to the computer section.
 
  • #5
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Stay in the library.
Find a place where you can't really use computer except if you make a effort to walk to the computer section.

This.

Also, arrange a time to do the hw with some people in your class every week. If you don't show your not just hurting yourself your bailing on them, at least that's how I look at it and it helps me.

Or go get tested for adhd :)
 
  • #6
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I schedule my classes with a few hour gap between, that way, coming home is a hassle if I have to be back, so I spend that time in the University library studying.
 
  • #7
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Stay in the library.
Find a place where you can't really use computer except if you make a effort to walk to the computer section.

I'm very aware of the feeling the OP describes. When stuck in limbo, not even the library helps for me. I could have the work ready right in front of me and instead I choose to stare out the window helplessly and concentrate on all the people passing by.
 
  • #8
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I also have this problem. I can't concentrate regardless of where I'm at. I would do 10 problems and then drift away to my cell phone or computer.
 
  • #9
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Sounds to me you need a girlfriend.
 
  • #10
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This.

Also, arrange a time to do the hw with some people in your class every week. If you don't show your not just hurting yourself your bailing on them, at least that's how I look at it and it helps me.

Or go get tested for adhd :)

Interesting suggestion. This can really lead to a good result. If you arrange a study group with the classmates / friends, it is your responsibility to do the homework ASAP, and expect to help each other out. The chatting part can consume time, and should avoid as much as possible. But if you really planned things out correctly, the study group can enforce the study habit nicely!

I get distracted easily. But you have to overcome it. It is your education. If you ar stuck with a problem, and you can't solve it, keep trying. Maybe keep a solution manual with you. I often do the following

Say a problem like
"Determine the equation of motion and the natural frequency of vibration for A uniform cylinder of mass M, rolling without slipping on a horizontal plane and constrained by a spring of stiffness K....."

I would try to google the problem + the keyword "soln",, or "solution", or "cramster", etc.
If I find a pdf / ppt from .edu with solution, I download the pdf / ppt, and save it. When I can't solve the problem after, maybe 10 attempts, I go to the solution a step at a time.

It is very hard to explain. But I would take the advice that you should arrange a study group / go to the tutoring and stay in the library.

It is an addiction. Procrastination is a kind of addiction. It can be worse than smoking. You can't overcome it in a day. Grab a pile of scratch paper, and sit in the library. Find a place where only quiet studying allows. Go there. Stay in school until 9:00PM. Turn off your cellphone. Disable Facebook. Block Tumblr.

I know I should keep religious stuff out of a formal discussion as much as possible, but if you are religious, pray .... I guess it helps, somehow. Go take a walk, drink some water, and study. I will never touch coffee even if you are pulling an all-nighter. Drink water. Coffee can keep you awake but I find it an addiction that also leads to other addictions. I find water a better way to keep myself awake.... I don't know if hypertonic is used correctly in this situation.


If you really have distraction problem, you probably want to consult with someone in school. Be it your advisor, or your friends. You don't have to go to a therapist (they are very expensive). I mean sometime some graduate students may help you to get therapy.
 
  • #11
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Find a place where you can't really use computer except if you make a effort to walk to the computer section.
I schedule my classes with a few hour gap between, that way, coming home is a hassle if I have to be back, so I spend that time in the University library studying.
You two seem to be very lazy and undetermined to pursue your desires :tongue:
 
  • #12
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Man. Stop picking on my poor performance :[ . I know. It's an effort.
:tongue:
 
  • #13
Thank you very much for the replies!

The fact is that this does not feel like a normal laziness, that's why I wrote here. When I was in a normal mood I could study with no problems, no matter the location, either the library or at home. This feels more like what I've read about the "Writer's Block", but it seems weird that something like this would appear when solving physics problems.

That's why I asked if you encountered a similar feeling and how you got over it, because you have a lot more experience in problem solving than me. I am just at the beginning of the long physics road, and I have a lot to learn.

Anyway I have 3 days since I stopped solving problems, and I think I feel a little better. But is there no other solution besides a study break? I really don't have time for breaks since I have a ton to understand to be able to handle the next year. Study groups sound nice, but I couldn't create one. All my colleagues prefer to study alone, and I understand them, because I prefer that too. We are mostly introverts.
 
  • #14
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This is the behaviour you will get when you think the problem is too difficult. You will start doing things like cleaning the house, making a sandwich, etc. What you need to do then, is to directly look at the problem and determine what it is that you really need to do. It will be just one (simple) thing. Just tell yourself that it should be one really simple thing that needs to be done here. It always is anyway.. At that moment, the way to get that done, is to do it. And remember that if you need to have it done before some deadline, do it right now. Because after you finish you will have your time to relax, and if you can not solve it then you need all the time you can get.
 
  • #15
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I think you need to take a break. You sound a bit burned out. I get like this some time. If you're not in school right now and don't have any immediate deadlines for homework or exams coming up. Mark on your calendar- a week or two where you DO NOT OPEN your physics book. It might seem counter productive at first, but I'm pretty sure you'll come back with renewed energy and interest.
 

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