# Slacker help

1. Dec 1, 2003

### Gale

Ook..... so i'm pretty much the biggest slacker in the world. No lie. Whatever stories you think you have, i can beat em. I'm pretty sure that i've never done all my assigned homework in one night before. If by some miracle i do any homework, its usually just for one subject, occasionaly two... i never do all my subjects. ever.

Now... i'm kinda worried about a few things... college and all that future career stuff and all my terrible habits and awful work ethic... but in the immediate future... i need to buy a car. If i'm on honors, cheaper insurance... SO i really want to be on honor roll. Now... for a smart gal like myself... most assume piece of cake. I'm easily in the top 2 percent intelligence-wise of my class. grade wise... eh... not nearly so well. let's say... i'm not unused to getting D's... and passing by the skin of my teeth.... oh too common. And i'm rather afraid that i'm all too used to that. I honestly, sincerely can no longer bring myself to do homework.

I am really really struggling to convince myself to buckle down and work. I have no idea what to do really... but i keep trying to convince myself that i need to do it... and so far... i'm quite unsuccessful... Today, i will make my hardest attempt in known history to do all my homework thoroughly and well for every subject. I have a lot of work to do... But i'm really gonna try. i swear it! anyways, i've been talking to teachers and friends, and i'm just really pleading and begging for any and all encouragement i can get. I need constant attention... i need to really feel pushed. I need everyone to pretend i'm a little elementary schooler that needs constant supervision and motivation. Soooo... since i frequent here all too often when i should be studying... i'm hoping that when i make those visits that i can read this thread and hopefully convince myself to return to my studies... Another thing... is that sometimes when you start out, its easy to remember you motivation.. but say a month from now... or a week... or tomorrow... i may be like why the hell did i decide to do this? and i'll be like oh yeah... and i can read this... and see how everyone agreed with me... and yeah. I'm hoping it'll work... a little at least.

alright, and i guess even if no one cares about me and my issues... i now have documented evidence that on december 1st, 2003, at 3 o'clock, i declared, in a healthy, conscious, sane state of mind, that i Gale truly desire good grades and better work habits, and therefore am going to make my best effort at doing homework! woo.. i wish me good luck... and so it begins...

2. Dec 1, 2003

### Zantra

Do you think you could strip and hook on the side? If not, you might want to study or else you could end up there. Ever been to the ghetto? And no I don't mean that area of town where they don't even have a starbucks . I'm talking about the real ghetto. Pay a visit to Queens. Become familiar with it. It may be your new home in the future. Education is a must in the real world- I know it sounds parenty, but you won't be working anywhere but Mickey D's with a high school education. I'm not just trying to scare you- these are just the facts m'am. You control your future- no one else. So in 20 years you won't be able to blame your parents, your friends, your teachers, or anyone but yourself for your life.

Find something that interests you and stick with it no matter what. This is a start.

3. Dec 1, 2003

### Ambitwistor

Unfortunately, Gale, I can tell you from firsthand experience that slacking is an incurable disease.

Oh wait, that wasn't very encouraging. Oh well.

Seriously, if you're not intrinsically interested in a subject, it's pretty hard to get yourself to spend a lot of effort on it, especially if the work is tedious. Extrinsic motivators (like "if I manage to do this, I can get a car") will only get you so far. The best thing is to find some way to take a serious interest in the subject material of your classes, if you can.

One thing I found that helps is working with someone else. I don't necessarily mean working together on assignments, per se; that can be ethically questionable. But just having someone else in the room, so you can push each other forward when you're slacking off, can help. (That can backfire if you or the other person is the sort who can't help chatting the whole time instead of working.) It's also helpful when you get stuck, to have someone else who can look over what you're doing, or (if you're working on the same thing), with whom you can compare your work.

Another thing is to compete with yourself by taking some pride in your work.. think of your assignments as professional, finished products that you're going to keep, refer back to in the future, show to other people, etc. (That may actually be true: I refer back to or loan out a lot of my old work.) Do them out neatly, as if you were writing them up to explain to somebody else. Keep them all in an organized binder. But for that to work, you have to actually care about what you're doing...

Other than that, I spent more time finding sneaky ways to be a slacker and still get what I want out of life, than I did trying to not be a slacker...

4. Dec 1, 2003

### Monique

Staff Emeritus
I think it is very important to understand that it is not a failure of yourself. I mean, everyone slacks, I have been slacking for the past week and the workload for December is now astronomical..

Seeing it as a failure of yourself will only make you feel worse and slack more, since, what is the point of reading those few pages when you are already behind so much.

The best way to deal with it, besides the very insightfull tips from Ambitwistor, is to take it fresh. Forget the work you COULD have done, rather focuss on the work you will still be ABLE to do.

There is this motivational speaker on PBS, and she has a very important message when it comes to money (especially after the market collapsed over the last years). You should look at what you HAVE and not at what you HAD. If you understand the importance in relation to money, it is very clear to see it applied to other things as well.

5. Dec 1, 2003

### dduardo

Staff Emeritus
Gale, it is ok to slack off in school as long as your doing something worthwhile in the meantime. (Hackeysack isn't a worthwhile alternative )

Albert Einstien, Thomas Edison, Bill Gates and Dean Kamen ( invented the portable dialysis machine and segway) , either cared less about school and/or dropped out to persue their dreams and aspirations.

Ther are four types of people in this world as I see it:

1. Bum
2. Worker
3. Thinker
4. Worker and Thinker

Life isn't about just working hard. Its about working in a smart and efficient manor to achieve your personal goals.

6. Dec 1, 2003

### Descartes

Hermann Minkowski called Einstein a "lazy dog", so I'd say you're in good company. As dduardo also pointed out, some of the more notable people of our time, scientists or otherwise, were not exactly stellar students.

Extending what the wise Ambitwistor said, out of the two forms of motivation (extrinsic and intrinsic), the extrinsically motivated people seem to be more manic about their progress. They need more instantaneous gratification I'd say, and they continually need it in order to facilitate personal progress. Contrast this with more intrinsically motivated people, and the progress may appear to be slower by the observer, but the result can often be more profound. Consider Newton, a man who went through years of self-depravity in order to concentrate; the result was of course The Principia. Einstein was also said to concentrate on a single problem for years. This isn't in the mindset of someone who expects more instant gratification for their efforts through grades.

I'll stop now, because I question the lucidity of the above :)

7. Dec 1, 2003

### rick1138

The reason you are slacking is because you don't care about the subjects you are studying - you are someone who needs to puursue dreams, then you will find true discipline.

8. Dec 1, 2003

### Ambitwistor

But she is pursuing her dream, of buying a car; unfortunately those pesky school subjects she doesn't care about are getting in the way.

9. Dec 1, 2003

### dduardo

Staff Emeritus
There are other mehods of paying for a car, such as drugs, gambling and prositution.

Or you could just steal a car.

10. Dec 1, 2003

### Gale

haha well thanks all... encouraging... i think...

I think though that i've gotten beyond normal slacking a bit though. And am probably headed where zantra said... and sadly, that didn't used to bother me... so that all added to my slackingness... actually i'm still not sure if it bothers me... i really don't know what my future holds and the ghetto mightn't be so terrible... depends on what you value in life...

but either way... i don't even just slack in the subjects i don't like... i slack no matter what. I love physics and calculus, but i still rarely do work outside of class... i love french and piano too... also classes... and again... never do the work for them either.

I used to study a lot outside of class. I read books all the time, always tried learning new things... and i've even stopped doing that... I'm at like a standstill in life... and i'm literally doing absolutely nothing. And i'm not happy about that. I like being semi-productive... i like learning... but i think i've lost that passion maybe... due to my extreme slacking... i'm not sure. I want it back though. learning and knowledge and all that was like what i lived for... and its gone now. I guess i'm hoping that by using a shallow goal like my car to get myself uesd to working again, that perhaps i can respark my desire for knowledge up again.

rrrrg... i'm so frustrating...

11. Dec 1, 2003

### Gale

haha... hmm... don't tempt me... i have no moral qualms with any of those methods... only reason i don't do that stuff is because i question my sanity and how grounded to reality i am... i'm scared that that stuff doesn't bother me, i'm not normal... soooo... i just don't do that stuff, just in case, one day, i wake up and decide to be sane...

Unfortunately, my dumb unrealness i think is also the cause of problems in the work department... if i were more normal i think i could convinve myself that a few hours of homework wasn't so terrible...

12. Dec 1, 2003

### Hurkyl

Staff Emeritus
There are some other oddball ways of motivating yourself that may or may not work. E.G. forbid yourself from eating anything but peanut butter sandwiches until your work is done. (It helps if you get your parents in on it)

13. Dec 1, 2003

### Gale

you know... i think that's the best advice yet... that might actually work. I'm so used to all the conventional punishment type stuff, that something like that might work...

and yeah, i put my parents on me, and all my teachers, my friends and just about anyone i could recruit for the cause. I'm hoping that i'll crack under the constant pressure... but i'm unsure about that... peanut butter sandwhiches though... you may be on to something....

14. Dec 1, 2003

### Ambitwistor

Well, I have a lot of experience not only with slacking, but with going through very apathetic phases in my life. I think it's a problem that runs deeper than what shallow goals or simple reward/punishment methods can fix. Heaping up external pressure from your parents, friends, etc. won't help, if you're at a point in your life where success or failure doesn't have a real emotional impact on you. (Notice I didn't say "doesn't mean much to you"; it could mean something intellectually, but it doesn't really make you feel much different.)

So, one problem is you seem to be drifting in life. It can be hard to maintain an interest in any one thing when you don't know how it ties into your life and future. You may need to do some thinking about that.

(Sometimes people can also end up apathetic if they've gone through an emotional roller-coaster recently, so if that's an issue, you'd have to work on that too.)

As for resparking the intellectual interest, there's a number of things you can do.

One is to spend more time interacting with people who haven't lost that interest; it can rub off, and they can tell you about all kinds of neat things you've never even heard of.

A second thing is to teach people. You get the satisfaction of helping people, and it gets you back into the intellectual side of things.

A third option is to actually do things. It's easy to remain detached when you're just reading about them. And even when you're doing homework, all the problems are artificial and imposed from without. Find something you're interested in and play around with it. Build something, or try solving simple problems of your own invention.

Your situation reminds me a little of the physicist Richard Feynman after WWII. He worked very intensely on the Manhattan Project, and got burned out. He took a professorship at Cornell but was producing nothing, research-wise. Then one day he saw somebody throw a pie plate and noticed it was wobbling, and wondered how fast the wobble was. He sat down and calculated it out, and went around telling people about it. The other professors were like, uh, that's cute, but who cares? Feynman said, I just felt like playing around with it. And after a while, it reminded him of a problem he'd once tried working on involving the spin of the electron, and it eventually got him back into the swing of things; he had his curiosity back.

So... just wonder about things, play with them... I do that from time to time. Like, how fast would the Earth have to spin before everyone went flying off? Or, when water pours out of a faucet and makes a tapering curve, what's the formula for that curve? Can I drop things and with a stopwatch prove that $x = 1/2 gt^2$ is true, or measure $g$? If I doubled the diameter of the Earth but left its density alone, how much would somebody standing on the surface weigh? What's the fastest way to estimate what the strength of gravity in low-Earth orbit is, looking up as few numbers as possible? Can I estimate how tall a building is from the length of its shadow? Given a pencil standing on its point with a force of static friction, which is released, when does it start sliding, and which way does it slide? (Very tricky!) If I changed the charge of the electron by 1% but left the charge of the proton alone, what kind of force would develop between the ends of an object? If I wanted to prove that electric fields produce an inverse square law, how would I do it? If I slide a bead down a curved wire frictionlessly, what shape should the wire be for the bead to get there the fastest? (Also tricky.) How big would the Earth be if it were a black hole? If the penny in my pocket represented the Earth, then (to scale) how big would the Sun be, and how far away would it be? Can I write a computer program to simulate the orbits of planets? To calculate the properties of a magnet? To find the line that best fits a set of data points? To calculate the capacitance of an arbitrarily-shaped loop of wire?

The important thing is that you come up with things that you, personally, are interested in knowing the answers to, that you can work on at your own pace, and which are easy enough that you can figure them out.

The goal is to just reconnect to the simple pleasures in life... intellectually, and emotionally too. Take a walk in the woods, go pet some kittens, eat strawberries.

Last edited: Dec 1, 2003
15. Dec 1, 2003

Staff Emeritus
Now that all the quasi-parents have got their huffs and pufs out of the way.

Gale your testimony shows that you're moving in the right direction. A real slacker won't have inner qualms about it. You're smart and a lot of stuff comes easy to you, and what isn't easy is BOOOOring. So you will find ways to motivate yourself - car insurance is a good one!

A lot of buckling down isn't gritting your teeth, it's just forming good habits. What distracts you from homework? Can you get away from it so you can't see/hear/feel/smell/taste it? When I want to keep myself from snacking, I put the food in a lower cabinet. So if I am tempted I have to stoop and reach, and in the stooping and reaching I have plenty of time to wonder if I'm doing the right thing. It doesn't always work, but it helps.

16. Dec 1, 2003

### Zantra

So how fast WOULD the earth have to spin before we flew off?

And Gale, I'll be the first to admit I was the king of all slackers once upon a time. I mean really, you have no idea. But you know, if I can save you some of the grief I had to go through because of it, I would. What I ended up doing was digging myself a hole, and I ended up not only having to put forth the effort that I should have put forth in the first place, but having to do it twice over to dig myself out of the hole I dug. So I just made things twice as hard for myself. What I'm saying is that unless you hit the lottery, there is no easy way out. Just have to bite the big one dere;)

Last edited: Dec 1, 2003
17. Dec 1, 2003

### Ambitwistor

18. Dec 1, 2003

### Ambitwistor

Oh, here's another really fun one that you can do with just dimensional analysis... nobody tell Gale the answer, unless she doesn't want to try it.

In 1947, Life magazine published a time-lapse series of photographs of the first atomic bomb explosion, the Trinity test. The yield of the bomb was still classified, but just from looking at the pictures, you could estimate how powerful the explosion was. I don't want to type in all of the data points, but you can get a pretty decent estimate from just one data point: at a time 62 milliseconds after the detonation, the radius of the blast was 185 meters.

(Hint: assume that the radius of the explosion depends only on the elapsed time, the initial energy, and the density of air.)

Useful numbers: density of air ~ 1 kg per cubic meter, 1 ton of TNT ~ a billion calories.

(I got this problem out of Goldenfeld's text. This solution was worked out by G.I. Taylor in 1947.)

19. Dec 1, 2003

### Gale

Ambitwistor, you really did describe me pretty well there... i was really apathetic a little while back, and i thought i had cured it... i guess i only fixed one aspect of it. Yes, failing... succeeding... no emotional nothing. You're right about that.

...oh and yes i'll do that problem. I really have no idea how to, but pleanty of people to ask for help with it. I guess i'll just have to learn something...

and yeah adjoint... i know what your saying about forming habits. And that's exactly whati need to do. But i have no idea how to make them unless i just keep being forced to work everyday after school by everyone i know. I've tried figuring ways to do it myself... like you snacks on the lower shelf thing... but i always outsmart myself, and blow me off, and disregard everything i try because of my twisted logic. SO, i'm hoping i can't completely disregard a million people. And hopefully, eventually, it's just become habit to do my work. i dunno...

DAY 1- i did my calc and my history, didn't have any french, should have practiced my piano... didn't, but it wasn't required, and should have studied physics, didn't, but i may stay after school tomorrow with my teacher, even if not, the test is weds, so i still have another night to study. well i guess so far so good? i should have studied my physics... but too late now.

20. Dec 1, 2003

### wasteofo2

Way to be egotistical and arrogant. If you do that poorly in school and can't even bring yourself to do an hour or two of homework a night in order to secure yourself options in your future, then you're not intelligent. You may have potential to be intelligent, but until you reach that potential it's no more true to call you intelligent than it would be to call ferari with no keys in the transmission sitting in a parking lot "fast".