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Slipping Grades

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Over the past few weeks, it has been extremely difficult for me to manage my coursework, resulting in my grades in certain classes faltering to undesirable levels. Now, it's not a case of coursework being too difficult or even too numerous; I am willing to do it all. Where I believe my real issue is is with distractions, although my somewhat slow work pace may also factor in. 

In terms of distractions, I could easily put all of the blame on YouTube, but the truth is that I seem to be gifted at finding the most obscure things to search or easily spend several minutes looking into before returning to my assignments... before doing it again for who knows how long. By the time it's dark I'm just trying to complete the assignments due the next day/on Monday (for the weekends) before unconsciously moving myself to my bed and falling asleep. Evidently, working on projects, essays, IAs, etc. is practically impossible with this model, and I desperately need to reform my ways.

I have tried so many things from summer vacation to now, including having a pad next to me to write down my random questions thoughts, organizing my day into 50-minute work sessions and 10-minute breaks, the Pomodoro technique, blocking all YouTube recommendations, the Eisenhower Matrix, breaking up my day into chunks with things I want to do (reading for 30 minutes, watching an anime episode, etc.) as my breaks, blocking certain distracting websites (Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, Buzzfeed, etc.), moving my work area to the dining room table and using my school Chromebook instead of my desktop, and even—try to follow along here—making my main desktop account hard to access by setting a generated password that I need to look at a post-it note for that is in an iPhone box inside a cabinet in the dining room, while having an easily-accessible "work account" that has StayFocusd permanently set on blocking the websites I mentioned earlier. Granted, I can't recall which methods I used with what, so it might be a manner of combining them, but something tells me it's not as simple as that...

I've always just played video games, watched YouTube videos, and internet surfed for fun, so these are definitely habits that run deep into me, so that explains a portion of my difficulty, but I'm very certain it's not impossible to change. Please share your recommendations and/or your own manners of structuring your time/homework. I appreciate it very much. ʕ→ᴥ←ʔ

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Why exactly do you procrastinate? Maybe thinking about "why?" rather than "how?" will help you more. I've tried a few productivity methods before too (though not as extensively as you did) and they didn't really stick either.

I found that reflecting on the reasons why I procrastinated helped me more than trying a bunch of methods to force myself to stop. Often, there's some deeper reason why you might procrastinate, and asking yourself "why?" can help you solve those problems. Once you figure out why, and then deal with that issue, it'll make the productivity methods stick better. 

For me, the real problem is perfectionism, which leads to high expectations for my assignments, which means that they become burdens. More activation energy is needed to make me start doing something because I'll want to make it perfect from the get-go, which is exhausting. So, the solution I've come up with for my particular problem is to take it easier on myself. Don't look over what I already wrote, and don't try to fix those awkward sentences immediately. Write up a few bad drafts, then actually edit those drafts. (In the past I just did the assignment as perfectly as possible and didn't edit. Bad idea, it takes forever, don't do that.) Basically, I try to reduce my expectations so I'm actually willing to work on the assignment earlier and finish it earlier. Then, I raise my expectations when I edit. I've been able to actually start my assignments earlier, and am better focused when I work on them.

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If you end up doing non-productive things on the computer/phone, just try to do the assignment on paper. When you do need to use the computer, set a time limit and know exactly what you need to find. For example if you are writing an English essay and need some references. On day 1 you can go for non-academic sources, such as crashcourse or sparknotes/cliffnotes and say that may take 40 minutes. Then you jot down, on paper, some ideas or analysis to use, with the book at hand, citing specific quotes or lines from the work. On day 2 you can look up academic sources, for example you may be given access to some research paper archive or database, and you can look up what others have found on this topic. This may take say 1.5 hours, and that may be all that you can spend on the assignment that day so just straighten out some approach or key points you want to introduce and think about how to organize the essay in general. On day 3 you don't really need the computer and can write a draft. Day 4 you can type up the draft, do some revising and you should be 90% done. Do some final revisions and you are good to submit on day 5. This model should take about 7 hours to write an essay and is much better than trying to write an essay for 7 hours in one go, with research and revision included.

For homework on some other subjects, by a similar note, you should do them on paper and prevent yourself from using computer to look up youtube explanations. You should primarily refer to textbook or your notes. Hopefully you will then take better notes so decrease reliance on technology. This could also mean using an actual calculator instead of using a spreadsheet or online calculator for math/science homework.

Whenever you work on the computer, make sure you are with someone who's highly self-disciplined so they can remind you to not be distracted too much when you are unable yourself. This may mean study sessions in a group. However, I emphasize that you should look for people who are highly motivated, not using the time to procrastinate or gossip as a group.

TL;DR you need to make study sessions effective by knowing what you need to accomplish for the day, and spread a big task across several days. This also mean for subjects with a lot of problem solving questions, eg math and group 4, you need to do them everyday so they don't pile up. I know what I proposed is somewhat extreme and caveman-like, but desperate time calls for desperate measures. 

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