October 26, 2008 10:49 AM   Subscribe

I think I have problem with escapism and lazyness.

I've been known to procrastinate studying/homework/work either by reading fiction, or doing equally wasteful, until it's too late to actually do anything at all.

Holidays are specially hard as all my social activity goes away of town. Because of that, I've spent entire weeks just reading fanfiction avoiding thoughts of depression, until something inside me snaps and I get bored of that. But, everytime I get bored of my life, the cycle restarts.

I want to deal with this. I want to get better at improving my life instead of hiding behind my computer screen, but I've no idea where to start.

- I'm currently studying something I don't really like. I can't change this until I graduate (2 years left).
- I like my job. I've been known to procrastinate studying by working. However, they are very small and infrequent gigs (I think it doesn't even qualify as 'part-time') that I can do from my computer.
- Please, don't suggest therapy. Being honest with myself, I won't go.


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posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (11 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
I'm currently studying something I don't really like. I can't change this until I graduate (2 years left).

Knowing that you have 2 years of doing something you don't enjoy that might lead to a life-time of working in a field/job you don't enjoy is not going to reduce your desire to escape and procrastinate.

I'd start seriously thinking about making your job your priority.
posted by slimepuppy at 10:56 AM on October 26, 2008

I tend to have the same problem, honestly. I recently started an ADD med (Vyvanse), and it's been making me a bit better at delaying gratification and being motivated. You also mention depression. If you don't want to start an SSRI (which I understand, I had a very unpleasant time on one, and didn't like that I could start and stop it quickly), Welbutrin may be a good option to help you out if it's mild. It has worked well for me in the past.

I'm sorry to suggest just drugs, but short of self help (which I know little about, and someone else will probably recommend) and therapy, they're the only options I can suggest.
posted by mccarty.tim at 10:58 AM on October 26, 2008

Sounds like you're unconsciously bringing yourself into a theta brain wave state which is helpful for a number of things - mainly repairing the brain and allowing the mind/body to rest.

Anytime you zone out - daydream/disassociate brain activity slows down - which can be beneficial - even if you're not consciously aware of the fact. More on theta here.
posted by watercarrier at 11:44 AM on October 26, 2008

I think you need to find something you're interested in to focus your time and efforts on. I did horribly in school and procrastinated to the point of too-lateness, too, while I was working on my AA degree. At the time, I wasn't sure what my academic end-goal was going to be. Once I decided and started on that path, I became much more interested in doing what I was supposed to be doing in terms of homework, research, etcetera.
posted by alpha_betty at 12:45 PM on October 26, 2008

Presumably you still want to graduate: I'm not trying to be flippant here, but the obvious question seems to be, "Why?" Recalling the goal could act as a motivator if you're in danger of losing the degree through apathy. Two years is a decent chunk of time, but of limited duration, if you're determined to tough it out. Can you talk with friends doing the same course for support? Good luck whatever you decide.
posted by woodway at 1:18 PM on October 26, 2008

Sounds like you're unconsciously bringing yourself into a theta brain wave state which is helpful for a number of things - mainly repairing the brain and allowing the mind/body to rest.

This is nonsensical. "Theta Brain Wave State" is a characterization of the output of a crude means of measuring neurological activity, electroencephalography. It is not currently known what exactly these measurements may be correlated with in terms of psychological states, or indeed whether they are meaningful categorizations at all.

posted by phrontist at 1:50 PM on October 26, 2008 [1 favorite]

I get this problem often, and the first thing to do is: Get away from the computer. Seriously. Take a chance and don't get near it for a whole day. Just one day: no email, no fanfics, no IM, no Net-surfing. Instead, take a couple of books and go to the nearby park, and read there. Or take a long walk. Do this during weekends.

For normal, weekday, trudging-through-classes days, take half an hour every day to just do nothing. Lay around, walk, listen to easy-listening music, call up your friends or family and just say hello and chat, meditate, doodle. Especially doodle. Doesn't matter if it's stick-figure crappiness or realistic sketches, just draw whatever. Your chair. Your sock. A leaf.

Also, I know you have two years left, but that's still a lot of time left to think about what you want to do. You can still change your area of study. Why are you studying something you don't like? Is it family/peer pressure? Just the sake of getting a high-paying job? Something else? Whatever it is, seriously consider what you want to do and pursue.

Procrastination is hard to avoid, I know, but hang in there. Don't give up!
posted by curagea at 2:39 PM on October 26, 2008

If you really can't change your course of study (really think hard about this - are your reasons worth wasting a couple of years on something you hate?), then you'll have to look for fulfilling activity elsewhere. Have you considered volunteering? Not only do you get the warm fuzzy feelings of doing good things, it's also a great way to get out from in front of the computer, meet people and spend time in the company of real people. If you find somewhere that'll allow you to use the same kind of skills as the infrequent job you enjoy, then all the better.
posted by xchmp at 3:04 PM on October 26, 2008

I've struggled with similar problems for my entire academic career. Rather than getting an ADD/ADHD diagnosis and jumping on the pill wagon, I've been trying to self-treat. So far, I've been successful; a tough undergraduate degree, a year working for state government overseeing complicated projects, and now graduate school. I know I haven't performed as highly as I might on drugs, but I hate the idea of altering my personality, I've done quite well regardless, and I'm steadily improving my work habits.

What's really worked for me is frequent exercise. So, yeah, after that last sentence you might be totally turned off... but hear me out. One benefit is the purely chemical calming and focusing effect of physically exhausting yourself. The other, fun benefit is the ability to indulge your fantasies by choosing the right kind of exercise. So far I've fenced (for anyone and only requires a maximum $200 initial expense), played rugby (not for everyone), mountain biked (high initial cost but especially fun at night with lights), and urban spelunked (chance of getting in trouble with the law). Staging a two person chase through the bar district is a good way of making the normally tedious act of running a lot more engaging. You get the idea. By consciously tying my time-sucking daydreams into whatever activity, I've been able to significantly reduce the amount of mental wandering that occurs outside of playtime. I still make time for really good media (for instance the Half Life franchise), but I spend a lot less time entertaining myself with dreck just to procrastinate or fill time.
posted by Derive the Hamiltonian of... at 4:18 PM on October 26, 2008

I could have written this question a few years ago. I already had problems with depression, but this situation made things so much worse:

I'm currently studying something I don't really like. I can't change this until I graduate (2 years left).

Are you sure you can't change your major? I thought I was stuck with mine, too--I only had a year left before graduation, and my school's cap on course credits made it impossible to change majors. I ended up leaving that school, going to a community college for a year, and transferring to another university. It took me another three years to graduate, but it was worth the extra time and debt. Therapy and medication eventually helped me out quite a bit, but not until I made that change.

Changing schools/towns and extending my graduation date by years might seem extreme, and the details of your situation are different, but for me, it was the right thing to do.
posted by kiripin at 4:32 PM on October 26, 2008

Make an effort to keep in touch with the outside world.

It may not work with you, but when I talk to people and friends daily, I tend to be more proactive. And this isn't just a matter of sending an email or a message on Facebook, but actually giving them a call or going out with them. You'll find that the more you get in touch with the outside world, the less likely you will be spending inside finding ways to put things off. It's a bit counter-intuitive and may even sound like just another form of escapism, but it works. Even if it's just a matter of finding a place to study that's not in your home. When you're home alone, it's far too easy to get caught up in distractions in an environment where you can quickly convince yourself it's ok. To avoid it, you can make an appointment to go to the library just for the sake of studying.

Or perhaps this isn't about escapism? Are you an introvert? Maybe the problem isn't escapism, but you just don't like interacting with others?
posted by nikkorizz at 7:12 PM on October 26, 2008

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