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To ask if anyone else self sabotages with constant procrastination when it comes to studying?

(234 Posts)
NickiFury Sat 03-May-14 16:04:25

I've two essays due in by next Thursday. They are finals, so important and yet I have just twatted around for weeks, they'll get a passing mark, they always do but probably not nearly as good as it could have been. I've exams next month, again I will pass most likely but not nearly as well as I could have done.

I love the subject and achieving a degree means a huge amount to me (no encouragement or possibility as a child or teenager), I will always regret this if I screw it up, it's my last chance really, got transitional fees with the OU. I won't be as educated as I could be even if I pass simply because I couldn't be arsed.

So WHY? WHY? Do I do this? I have two autistic children, home educating one of them and am a single parent, it's hard, once they've gone to bed, I'm so knackered I just want to veg in front of the TV, but with self discipline I could easily find the time. Is anyone else like this? and if anyone could explain the psychology behind it that might help.

TheWanderingUterus Thu 29-May-14 08:56:39

500 words is excellent usual, well done!

usualnamechanger Thu 29-May-14 05:45:59

Just done 500 words, I need to sleep.

TheWanderingUterus Fri 23-May-14 20:59:36

Thank you so much, I have c & p that and the links. Really helpful.

I did my MA quite a long time ago and had lower level study in between so it has been quite a leap to this level of writing. It's good to have useful guidance!

Daisychain - good to see another part timer. My husband told me that the quickest a part timer has finished a phd in any discipline at the RG university he works at is 4 years and 5 months. The average is 6 years. I know what you mean about loving the subject but hating the getting it down on paper!

Booboostoo Fri 23-May-14 20:42:44

TheWanderingUterus glad I'm not overstepping the mark!
This is a bit on essay plans but works equally well for chapter plans:

One way to do is this:
- identify your bibliography. By PhD level you should have an idea of where to start and you can move from one resource to another.

- always take notes of what you read. Start with the bibliographical details at the top of your notes as you will need then for referencing purposes otherwise it will take ages to do them retrospectively. Note down what you think the author's main argument is, also how he differs from anyone else you may have read that you may eventually want to link to, also any direct quotes that might come in handy later and finally note down your own thoughts to what you are reading (do you agree, disagree, etc.) but label what is your contribution clearly so you don't mix it up with the author's ideas later on.

- when you finish with all your reading, put together a chapter plan.

- bring the notes and plan together by allocating all the notes to different parts of the chapter.

- then start writing but now it's easier to do as you can ignore everything but the notes relating to the first part of your chapter plan subsection 1, and move on from there. That way you are breaking up your chapter into manageable chunks and you can do still finish a little bit of work at a time even if you only have an hour or two to do it in.

This may be a bit basic for PhD level but you may find something useful there:

daisychain01 Fri 23-May-14 19:33:11

I'm struggling big-time at the moment with procrastination - some of it is genuinely due to exhaustion, having to work F/T, and doing my PhD part-time.

I love the research area, I have all the info in my head but trying to get all the ideas down into a Word document is the biggest PITA. I just hate it.

I'm into Year 4 P/T, but don't feel I am anywhere near having enough data - that's the labour intensive bit I'm struggling with when working.

Just wondering if 4-6 years part time for a PhD is abysmally slow, or isn't it too bad? I can only do around 6-7 hours per week max due to having to work .... I'm feeling more like I'm being defeated by it, but hate myself giving up sad

TheWanderingUterus Fri 23-May-14 19:23:00

Wow, yes please, keep the advice coming!

I'd also love the resources please. I am indeed a humanities student.

My supervisor is helpful but very busy and quite disorganised so it takes quite a while to get a reply to my emails. So external advice is incredibly welcome!

headdesk Fri 23-May-14 18:12:04

I do this with the essay units of my degree. My degree is 70% practical and 30% essay. I've never been good at writing so always leave it last minute because I hate it so much (absolutely love the practical side and always get that done with weeks to spare before hand in). Though I did get a surprise when my last essay got a high 2:1 (just missed out on a first by a few marks).

Booboostoo Fri 23-May-14 18:06:38

If I may offer some completely unasked for advice, and assuming you are working in the humanities or social sciences: write something before every meeting with your supervisor and don't allow yourself any excuses for not doing it. It doesn't matter if it isn't strictly part of your thesis, it could be some thoughts on a paper you read, or your view on a side issue, or whatever, but it keeps you in the habit of writing. As soon as you have your chapter headings/outlines, or at least an idea of what the chapters will be like for the first third of your thesis, start writing them. Even if they are not perfect, they should be in print, as it gives you and your supervisor something concrete to work from. Write them as if they are self-contained essays with a set deadline as part of a course, don't see them as part of a 5 year degree because that way you end up at year 5 with nothing written down.

Also (continuing on my rant of unsolicited advice) ask for help from your supervisor with reading skills, like taking notes, making chapter plans, integrating notes into plans, etc. (I have some online resources on these kinds of issues that probably apply to all humanities students if you are interested but I'd better curb my enthusiasm for unwanted advice!).

TheWanderingUterus Fri 23-May-14 17:49:13

Posted too soon (dropped my scone on my ipad grin).

Some sobering thoughts there. I'm still early days in my part time Phd, but obviously I am hoping to be the exception that manages to finish!

TheWanderingUterus Fri 23-May-14 17:42:46

Phew! Visions of an interesting meeting in a week or two.

Some sobering thoughts

Booboostoo Fri 23-May-14 17:04:18

TheWanderingUterus post without fear, I left academia 4 years ago!

It so happened that my last post involved teaching a lot of professionals returning to education. Almost all of them did brilliantly with their P/T MAs, the odd one needed to take a year off and then continue but I don't even recall anyone not completing. Of course a very small minority went on to do PhDs but there the drop out rate was enormous despite great efforts to help everyone (we offered a DMedEth which had 2 years of structured research and a shorter 60,000 word thesis over 4 years, all P/T - everyone did great during the first 2 years, then struggled to force themselves to do the longer thesis without the short deadlines required of essay assignments). We were very aware of this problem as a department and flagged it up to the students, tried to set chapter deadlines for the thesis, 'pestered' people to keep on working at it even if it didn't feel perfect, but it was still very tough.

TheWanderingUterus Fri 23-May-14 12:21:44

Booboostoo, you aren't my supervisor are you? grin

Paranoia strikes blush

DH is an academic too and says the same thing about part time PhDs, but has thankfully been happy to support me through mine. I was lucky enough to find a supervisor to take me on.

But then I think most study with young children is incredibly tough as can be seen from other stories on this thread. I have always been interested in history so it has come a bit easier to me, but when I did a psychology based course with the OU I struggled to learn a whole new subject and juggle the just one child I had at the time. That was harder in the short term than what I am doing now with two children.

Booboostoo Fri 23-May-14 10:24:07

Apologies I haven't read the whole thread but I think one of the main factors behind academic success in any field is your will power to MAKE yourself do it. It's really tough, and it doesn't stop. I've been an academic for a couple of decades and I am still in a foul mood as deadlines approach and I have to make myself sit down and do it (of course I am completely elated as soon as it's all done so it evens out!).

One thing that makes it even harder is not being a full time student, so that other things like family and work (reasonably) distract you from the studying - that requires even more effort and self-discipline. Part time PhDs are the most difficult degrees to complete, the distractions combined with the long term timetable are too much for many students.

TheWanderingUterus Fri 23-May-14 09:52:32

Two hundred words is better than 0 words though.

I know what you mean about thinking of the perfect essay, it's something I struggle with too.

Do you have a sympathetic tutor/teacher? I find that makes it much easier. My supervisor has two children and is very hands on with them which means he understands a bit more about some of the problems I face.

For what it's worth I think you are doing brilliantly usual, with all the extra pressures on you.

usualnamechanger Fri 23-May-14 09:43:18

TheWandering I wrote 200 words yesterday, I know it doesn't sound like much, but I also had to cook, laundry, clean, vote, play with toddler, etc.

And I fell asleep after the night feed, it's awful when you are so tired you just fall asleep wherever you are. I had been up until 5am for three days and no work done because I was thinking of the 'perfect essay' and also feeling anxious for an unrelated matter...

I will write more today, I see how we get distracted so easily because children need so much attention.

revolutionary I am too stingy to buy drugs, I always think how much food (treats) I can buy with the same money. But if I had to choose I would prefer to try ayahuasca, but it makes you vomit a LOT before you have visions (I know people who have done it).

TheWanderingUterus Thu 22-May-14 22:34:20

Good luck usual and anyone else who needs it.

I have a stack of library books to read but spent the day sewing a costume for DD instead. It looks awesome but no work got done.

revolutionarytoad Thu 22-May-14 21:00:44

Oh definitely Usual. I'm lucky that I feel alert and productive after smoking, it's not like that for everyone (although it is common to feel zoned in and able to concentrate), but I think my tolerance level is a help and am also lucky that where I live practically all you can get is this one particular strain....if it were a different strain it could have the effect of getting me super hungry and just eat everything in sight instead, who knows!

That's cool. But I think there are lots of people out there who could really profit from it. You should try it sometime smile maybe post BF tho!

ballsballsballs Thu 22-May-14 21:00:36

I know I couldn't study on weed. I could barely get my shit together enough to make toast last time I smoked smile

usualnamechanger Thu 22-May-14 20:42:42

not everyone will react in a positive manner after taking them, that's what I meant I am sleep deprived, so forgive my lack of eloquence, grammar,etc.

usualnamechanger Thu 22-May-14 20:41:21

revolutionary The problem with drugs (apart from any ethical problems, etc.), is that not everyone will react to them, I believe it's an individual experience.

I might be wrong, because I have never tried any illegal drugs, but that's what I have been told by people who have.

Saying that, it might be a placebo effect, but I used to find coffee really helped me. But I am breastfeeding now, so no coffee for me sad

revolutionarytoad Thu 22-May-14 13:07:00

I get the thing about being uninspired BigBird. In the middle of my essay exams I feel like my mind shuts down and tell me: no, not letting you do any more now. No inspiration whatsoever.

I feel so guilty but when it gets down to it, I feel like it's a massive effort to concentrate on it for even two minutes. Laziness is more of a thing than we think. People who work hard- I'm sure they're not pushing through a great wall of boredom and exhaustion etc, I bet they don't feel like they're always running out of steam and energy.
I'm sure it would help if I actually liked my degree tho.....I just wonder how long I can keep the game up.

revolutionarytoad Thu 22-May-14 13:01:36

I know this is not what most MNers want to hear, but a bit of weed works wonders. You get in the zone, you don't get bored or distracted. Some strains might not be kind on your memory so choose wisely. But I often do coursework/revision/exams stoned. Yesterday I learned approx. 150 new words for my exam today (translation) and it went like a dream. I just had to write the words out once to know them because my focus got so much better. What's the harm in trying it just once?

BigBirdFlies Thu 22-May-14 12:44:54

Me too. This week I have done two exams. I have 3 exams next week, and one the following after. My exams this week were each 3 hours long, and they are just so gruelling. I had to apply for special exam conditions because I have menorrhagia, and I was terrified that I would bleed through my clothes if I couldn't have a rest break. Luckily, with the help of a tena lady nighttime maxi plus, I managed to complete my first exam without any accidents, and my second exam was unaffected.

I now feel totally uninspired to do any more revision. I just want my summer break. I'm tired and feel empty.

usualnamechanger Thu 22-May-14 10:36:26

TheWandering No, but I really don't have much time, that's why I have to stay up until late... And I need to write now. Wish me luck!

I have read earlier about pushy parents and the reasons for procrastinating... all this sounds familiar.

Melty Wed 21-May-14 21:00:54

I am a serial procrastinator. Here is my sorry tale.
I have just finished yr 2 of a 3 yr MSc in Clinical ed.
(With a huge amount of support from my Tutor. )

I've previously done an undergrad diploma in Education, and was the same with each assignment and portfolio I had to hand in, with lots of 5am finishes for assignments due at 9.
All through the MSc course, I have been submitting my assignments at about 1 minute to go.
I was like this in school too, despite parents having v high expectations and my report cards were littered with "Could work much harder" comments

I have had extensions after extension for this last modules assignment (4k words) and actually should have finished this time last year.
My mum got sick last year at submission time, then I had surgery, then my dad had surgery for kidney cancer, then my (useless) colleague resigned and work put off replacing him for months, so I was snowed under and really stressed. But to be honest, I didnt really need much of an excuse.

The board of examiners agreed to let me wait and redo the module and submit this year instead. I attended most of the online tutorials, and was full of good intentions, but somehow managed to watch 2 seasons of Revolution, have the cleanest and tidiest home ever, and miss this years submission date. I actually forgot completely.

My tutor emailed while I was having a rare moment of panic on bank holiday Mon and actualy doing some work, to see how I was getting on, as I would need to submit as board of examiners are meeting on the 22nd of this month, and if I didn't submit I would have to exit the program with a post grad cert.
I told her I should have it finished by the end of that week. She said great, Ill expect it on Friday the 9th.
I immediately relaxed and sat down to watch more crap tv, planned to to a bit more during the week, but didnt, left work early on Thurs expecting to do an all nighter, but ended up in the hospital with my friend and her toddler who had fallen over and split her face open.
No work that night, none on Friday as I was too tired. Goddaughters birthday on the sat, so no more work.
I did some panic writing on Sunday, but kept getting distracted even at that stage, and managed to get cystitis too.

I took monday and tuesday off work, and despite needing to pee about every 5 minutes, I managed to finish and submit by 10pm on the Tuesday.
I emailed my tutor to say "its in, and sorry for the late ubmissionwho replied within about 10 minutes, and I found out last night that I had passed with a B.

The comments on the assignment were all stuff I knew I should have expanded on, so really I need a good kicking. I think if I had actually done it when I needed to, I could have easily got my marks up to an A. But thats the perfect assignment, as opposed to the one I actually handed in.

Now I have to think about my dissertation. Aaagh.

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