Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

So frustrated with myself

  1. Jul 3, 2008 #1
    I don't remember when exactly I started being like this, but I do remember a time where I was different.

    My problem is that I have a bunch of things I want to do and can't figure out what order to do them in or when, then literally have a brain fart and just not do anything.

    Example: Last night. I decided I want to build a distortion pedal for my guitar after seeing some schematics and realizing it's easy and won't be too expensive. So naturally I want to start ordering parts. Then I realize I had forgotten a lot, so I busted out my electronics book. Then I realized I need to start studying for the GRE's, so I did a Google search for old tests, then I realized what's the point of having an effects pedal if I'm not playing? So I decided to start playing.

    So I ended up spending my evening working over one chapter in my electronics text book while constantly having other things on my mind and really not accomplishing much.

    Stuff like this happens to me every day. Today I planned to play guitar, take a practice GRE, read up some more on electronics, and work out.

    My time is spent just processing what I should do and when, and when I do decide to do something everything else is constantly on my mind.

    While playing guitar: "Oh, I should be studying for the GRE. It's more important."
    While studying: "Oh I know what song I want to learn next! How does it go...?"


    Anybody have or had a similar problem? How do I overcome this? It really eats up my days without me getting anywhere.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 3, 2008 #2
    My main problem with procrastinating is that I just keep putting it off...:rolleyes:
  4. Jul 3, 2008 #3
    It's not procrastination with me, it's that I want to do everything at once and as soon as I decide on something all the other things start flooding my mind. I can't concentrate on a single activity unless there are circumstances beyond my control, i.e. on a test I can't start playing guitar so it's pointless to think about it. While taking my guitar lesson I can't take out my physics books, so thinking about homework is pointless.
  5. Jul 3, 2008 #4


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Make a list and do just one thing at a time in the order they are written until they are all crossed off.

    Oh, yeah. And slap yourself really hard in the face with a frozen fish when you catch your mind drifting off topic. :biggrin:
  6. Jul 3, 2008 #5
    Make some goals for each activity. I have this problem too. I have my thesis to write, and it draws from a variety of topics in nanotechnology, optics, signal processing, etc. I started a notebook where I write some goals for the day and try to mark them off like a checklist. It's not just a goal like "read optics book," it's something specific and doable, like "figure out placement for photodiode."
  7. Jul 3, 2008 #6
    Yeah, that's another thing. I'm doing some code for independent research. And it's like "Okay, this part will have X,Y, and Z methods, oh oh, I'll write Z method now... it will need A,B,C methods in it... oh oh I'll write B method now" and keep jumping back and forth. Really inefficient.

    I'll try the making a list. I can't see it working because it's so easy to ignore (sorry, no fish in the freezer), but I guess it's worth a shot.
  8. Jul 3, 2008 #7

    Math Is Hard

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    This is very good advice. My attention problems are very similar to yours, and lists are how I get things done. Things have to be divided up in to "might do"s and "must do"s, and you don't get to do your "might do"s until the "must do"s are done. You'll be surprised at how fast you can crank through a list of "must do"s after you've written it out.
  9. Jul 3, 2008 #8

    Math Is Hard

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    One other thing I should mention is that things on the "must do" list don't have to be completable in one sitting. You can simply decide to carve out two hours from your day to work on the task and do nothing else, and do this for as many days as necessary. I sometimes put a "do not disturb" sign on the door or go away to somewhere quiet with a laptop when I need to concentrate.
  10. Jul 3, 2008 #9
    I have the opposite problem. I get into doing something and completely forget about anything else I ought to be doing. Like right now I'm at work and there are probably things I should be doing. Time to go...
  11. Jul 3, 2008 #10
    See, I used to be like that. I could do homework or study for hours. Work on a personal project for hours, and I'd actually always find time to get everything done. It's these last few years that have really screwed up for me. I don't know why. If I knew why, I could fix it maybe...
  12. Jul 3, 2008 #11

    Chi Meson

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    Do you sometimes have completely separate thoughts overlapping each other in your head? That is, do you notice that you are concurrently thinking about two or three completely different topics; or will one line of thinking leap into multiple, overlapping tangential thoughts?
  13. Jul 3, 2008 #12
    They overlap each other. I'm in the middle of a homework problem and I start thinking about something completely different, like having to stop by Walmart tomorrow to buy pants. Should I buy short pants since it's summer? But it's not that hot, so will they get much use? Since I'll be out, I need to stop at Radioshack for XYZ connector I need... do they even sell those? Let me check. Oh, right, homework. Stuff like that.

    I used to be able to use it to my advantage. Somehow I'd get homework done really quick because I'd be able to keep a few things in my mind at once. My power to concentrate has just dwindled.
  14. Jul 3, 2008 #13
    Here's what I do. I make mistakes and I record them on google notes and make recommendations. It works - a little :). I have been doing this for more than a year.

    e.g. My current term errors:
  15. Jul 3, 2008 #14
    I went through it the other way. I got this masterlist of things I'd like myself to be. I am getting more discipline in one area, then two, then three etc.

    Half a year ago, I was rather fat. I thought that it sucked, everything was harder and somewhat crappy then when I were training track in my highschool-years. So, I started to eat almost spartan food and going from strength exercises (which doesn't burn excess weight) to running (one of my passions in life, I love it). First I started to run 3 miles and have for a couple of months ago gone up to 5 miles with rough terrain.

    My weight plunged from 221 pounds to 188 pounds in six months. That was discipline in one area of my life. I have transferred it to school/work-related topics and is in the process of transferring it to other areas.

    In my opinion it's a matter of discipline, first you get control of your body, then your mind. Besides, nothing beats running for 40 minutes thinking about some aspect of physics/math and in the end of the run you feel that you grasped what it was all about. :)
  16. Jul 3, 2008 #15
    So you're sort of like windows vista then?

    On the serious side of things:
    I think you might be bored, hence the lack of concentration. Sort of a complacency that sneaks in on you when you feel you have control. Find something new, fresh and exciting to spark that interest-driven concentration.
  17. Jul 3, 2008 #16
    Actually they do. By weight lifting properly your body needs to rebuild itself over night, burning some fat in the process, and when you get the extra muscle, they also need more calories to be maintained.

    Yeah, I used to do martial arts. But what happened is I had to stop because of going to college, and I just don't have the time for it. I tried making some time and found that the school I went to moved. Where I live it's basically a black hole for martial arts. There is absolutely NOTHING good in my area. I've been looking for the past 2 years now. I can honestly say that my happiness with life has dramatically gone down since I stopped doing martial arts, but there is nothing I can do about it.

    Oh, and I did make a list last night of things I need to do. Then it all went to hell. First, I had this horrible back pain (it started before I stared making the list) that progressed into the night. It's like when you need to crack your back or neck, but just can't for some reason and it's annoying. It went from annoying to so-painful-I-can't-sleep so I got 2.5 hours of sleep less than I had hoped. No biggy, I can move on. Then something else came up the second I checked my email. I was planning to do research for the summer it was finally OK'ed by my prof, so I'm getting everything ready to fly out. Soo.... I'll have to try again tomorrow.
  18. Jul 3, 2008 #17


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    Remember though - "tomorrow belongs to the procrastinators"
  19. Jul 3, 2008 #18
    Warphalange: potatoe or potato. It's the question. Running is more effecient, like I was saying "BURN" away the fat. Not just get away some grams of fat, I meant kg.

    Are you feeling Like everything is slipping out of control and you need to get your act together? Discipline is your best friend, on the road to getting stuff done. Good hard german discipline.
  20. Jul 3, 2008 #19


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Have you been checked for an Attention Deficit Disorder?
  21. Jul 3, 2008 #20
    You are describing numerous symptoms I have experienced. My loss of focus/concentration eventually caused me to lose my job. I ended up in a very deep, long lasting, clinical depression. I'm not trying to diagnose you, I'm just relating my experience.

    I tried all the requisite tricks -- lists, breaking projects into small tasks, etc. None of it helped in any significant, or long lasting way.

    Even if you don't think you need it, please start looking for a therapist. It can be very difficult to find one you are comfortable talking with. For me, therapy was/is very helpful, but it is a slow process. I tried four different people before finding one that "clicked" with me.

    In addition to therapy, I spent several months with a psychiatrist trying different dosages and combinations of drugs. The effects can be slow to recognize. Some did nothing for me, others had minor side-effects (most common was drowsiness).

    There are lots of scary stories floating around about psychiatric medications. I researched everything I could, and talked to my doctor about them. I also informed my family when I started or changed a medication, so they could watch for any problems. Nothing bad ever happened. Nothing.

    One big hurdle for me was trying to follow the logic in my illness. You get the flu, the doctor gives you a pill and you get better! If you break an arm, they put a cast on it for a few weeks! But this... this works on your emotions. There are no "concentration pills", and anti-depressants are no panacea. The medicine helps alleviate some symptoms, but it really requires the combination of treatments.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook