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What to do when you cannot get motivated?

  1. Mar 9, 2008 #1
    I know I should be studying, but all I want to do is listen to music, surf the web, and watch movies.

    What do you usually do to get motivated?
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 9, 2008 #2
    Turn off the computer.
  4. Mar 9, 2008 #3
    I do all my homework at school before I go home. There are no distractions there.
  5. Mar 10, 2008 #4
    It sounds to me like you may have any of many problems. Maybe you don't find the material as interesting as other activities you do. Maybe you've let yourself slack, and have just realized that harder than one might think to get your brain back into gear, and easier to let it wander. From what you've told us, we don't know what's wrong. The simple and general solution is to -actively and honestly go do something else- for a while and come back when you're honestly ready to do work.

    If you need to take time off, like a term or two, do so. Most universities have provisions and procedures for students in currently good standing who wish to take a sabbatical. In any case, the most important thing is to be honest with yourself.

    I once had a roommate who did what you did - he was the smartest guy in our class, but at some point he lost interest in physics. He spent most of his day in bed at his computer watching downloaded movies, tv shows, and would occasionally go for extended hikes alone; all the while, he fell further and further behind in work. He wasn't honest with himself about his expectations, and couldn't deal with the fact that he was no longer at the top of his class even though he hadn't been doing the work to keep up for a whole year and a half. So he became afraid of not living up to his own self-image, and became ashamed of appearing in public, and lived an increasingly lonely life.

    He took a year off, and came back afterwards. The term started out fine, but after a few weeks he was back to his old habits of watching TV shows and surrfing the web to evade work. He committed suicide shortly after receiving notice that he was failing classes at midterms.

    Bottom line: don't end up like my roommate. Dont end up like the other people I hung out with who lost their way when they doubted their own choice of path and didn't know how to find their bearings again. Be honest with yourself. It's the one way you have to avoid wasting your time, your energy, your effort, your money, and your optimism.
  6. Mar 10, 2008 #5


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    This is a depressing story, but didn't your roommate undergo any form of counseling or psychiatric evaluation? Or did he simply fail to follow through?
  7. Mar 10, 2008 #6
    take away your distractions. Everyone stuggles with this (i think). For me I take my wireless card out of my comp, leave my cell phone at home and go to the library or coffee shop. Once I've gotten some progress then I feel more motivated.

    Also, I find that making excuses for myself is easy. Don't let yourself do this. You'll have be able to find more excuses and put things off. Plan ahead to get away from your distractions.

    Good luck.
  8. Mar 10, 2008 #7
    Drop out and get a job if you really can't concentrate I think I know what you've got and University is not a good place for you to be right now.

    Go get a job and watch movies after work. Seriously after a year or two you will get so sick of it you'll be begging to go back to study.
  9. Mar 10, 2008 #8
    How are you doing in your classes? Are you being challenged? If not, that might be part of the reason as well (it has been for me in some cases).

    Are you falling behind in your work or are you keeping up with assignments?

    You'll pretty much need to force yourself to study and get away from the stuff that distracts you. I find that getting out of the house...going to the local coffee shop or to the library to study helps me concentrate.
  10. Mar 10, 2008 #9
    Just do this.

    And imagine yourself accepting the nobel prize in the future.
  11. Mar 10, 2008 #10
    Guys, thanks, I should have been more specific.

    I'm not in college right now. I need to study some math, so as to pass placement exams this summer before going to a community college to begin a math major.

    I know I can learn the material, although yes it will challange me, but the biggest thing is probably the distractions like some have mentioned.

    I do have an interst in math, so it's not like it would actually bore me to study.

    I guess I really do just have to turn the computer off as it's too tempting to get online and check something every 5 minutes!
  12. Mar 10, 2008 #11
    I don't think you need to feel bad about your career choice just because the internet is more interesting. If I had a job that was more interesting than the Internet, I'd have it *made*.

    The problem here is that math is interesting, but it's a long, sustained kind of interest. If you can develop a taste for that kind of interest, you might find it easier to avoid distractions.

    www.dontbreakthechain.com is a good tool to avoid distractions. The way it works is that you decide on a goal and mark every day that you achieve that goal. Eventually, you'll get a chain of days where you achieved your goal, and you'll be motivated not to break it.

    Often, the best way to go about something like this is to start with easy goals, and then gradually progress to harder ones. For example, make it your goal to go 10 minutes distraction free each day. (It'll probably work best if you make these at the the same time ever day, for example, 6:00 to 6:10. Also, you might to rigorously define what counts as a "distraction" beforehand, so you won't try and weasel out.) Once you've done that for a week straight, you could upgrade to 20 minutes.

    Some other tips:
    - Be honest about your recording, or the tool might be rendered forever useless to you.
    - Make dontbreakthechain.com your home page so you'll be reminded of your goal, and so you'll remember to record each day that you accomplish it.
  13. Dec 3, 2009 #12
    Actually I am facing the same thing
    I am sure that I still love Physics and Math.
    But I don't want to study it.
    What can I do? sigh........

    I used to be very motivated in life
    but having trying everything in my power to reach a goal of mine, I gave up at the end of the day, because I realized that it was impossible to make it. And then I never get back my motivation.

    I really would love to spent all my time in thinking physics and math.

    But I dun know why, I just keep wasting time

    what can I do? =(
  14. Dec 3, 2009 #13
    One key thing that helps me stay motivated and on track is a few of my close friends that are in the same classes as me. We don't always do our homework/study together but we always make sure the other person has their work done. If one of us is slacking we put the pressure on them and get them motivated again. And we have a little healthy competition to see who can get the higher grades. If it wasn't for a few of these guys I know for a fact there was a few times I would have gotten considerably lower scores on some of my exams.
  15. Dec 3, 2009 #14
    I also found it very helpful to study with someone. I wouldn't always be motivated to do it all on my own, but I would never miss an appointment with someone who was counting on me to be there. It was also just much more efficient to study or work with someone else.
  16. Dec 3, 2009 #15


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    I always looked at my tuition bill...LOL!

  17. Dec 3, 2009 #16
    Once I calculated that I was paying over $100 for each 3/wk course, I started to get pretty pissed when the professors would cancel class.
  18. Dec 3, 2009 #17
    I look at my 6 week old son. If I don't pass my classes (and soon the qualifiers), I can't support him and my wife. That's a pretty good motivator if I ever saw one (though looking at the term bill might work, but as a grad student I have a $0 term bill).

    If you must surf the web, go to the physics forums or math forums to help other students figure out their problems--the best way to learn physics (or any subject really) is by teaching others how to do it!

    I would also suggest getting rid of your TV (or at least the cable/satellite part). You might miss it the first couple of days/weeks, but you'll end up doing more school-related work and your grades will benefit.
  19. Dec 4, 2009 #18
    Thank you for asking this question... I'm also going thro' same phase.... and I hope the suggestions given in this thread will help me...
  20. Dec 4, 2009 #19
    Another thing that helped me was the co-ops that I did. After doing two 6 month co-ops working as a chemical engineer I was able to see a lot of what I would be doing once I graduated. A lot of the little stuff I was slacking in because I wasn't motivated were things that I really needed to know and use once I graduated. This caused me to get a lot more serious about my work since I feared if I didn't know all the material well I wouldn't be able to perform at my job once I graduated.
  21. Dec 6, 2009 #20
    Here are three different things you can try. You should try out a technique for at least a solid week before rejecting it definitively.

    1. Use Autofocus. http://www.markforster.net/autofocus-system/

    2. Use the Pomodoro Technique. http://www.pomodorotechnique.com/

    3. Maybe you're finding that both those techniques have too much overhead for you. If that's the case, here's what I recommend you do. After you finish reading these instructions, turn away from the computer. Maybe put it to sleep so you don't turn back and start surfing again. Think for as long as you need to until you've decided what the best thing for you to be working on is. Then once you've figured out what the thing is, count down from 10 in your head. Once you reach 0, go do it. If you manage to get in the flow of it, you'll likely find it just as engaging as whatever time-wasting activities you do at your computer--and more psychologically healthy, as you won't constantly be worrying in the back of your mind that you are wasting time.

    If you notice yourself getting tired, take a break to do some rejuvenating activity like listen to relaxing music, watch a funny video, or have a snack. Make a commitment that you're always going to do the most rational thing to accomplish your goal. Depending on the circumstance, the most rational thing *could be* to take a break. That's all right.

    But make a firm promise that you'll always attempt to do the rational thing. As time goes by you'll slip up less and less--it's a skill you develop. Don't be hard on yourself when you do slip up.

    The main thing when you slip up is not to let it cause you to fall into a hole where you become discouraged because you've slipped up, so you slip up some more, etc. creating a vicious cycle. It's not rational to get discouraged. Discouragement is an irrational emotion that you'd be better off without.
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