ADHD task paralysis

Postby Universitystudent » Sun Mar 31, 2019 8:55 pm

Question: how to overcome procrastination.

About me: I've had ADD since I was a child, I was diagnosed twice from what I remember and I'm familiar with the effects like I'm familiar with the back of my hand. I'm now 24 years old and I'm a physics undergrad in the United states. My gpa is not good---2.3. My classes are getting a lot harder and I need a solution to a particular symptom of my ADD.

The symptom: I imagine that in order to initiate a task, any person will have to break down a barrier, and once they do they'll have successfully stimulated themselves to perform the task in its entirety, unhindered. For me, it's a large barrier, and once I break it, it passively regenerates and in order to perform an uninteresting task, I'll have to devote half my chemical capital to breaking it down while allocating the other half to completing it. For example, initiating the process to study for an exam. I'll try to set aside time to do it, and my brain will tell me "you dont have the dopamine for that." But I'll do it anyway and my brain will say "you dont have the chemical capital to complete this task, heres the toll" and suddenly this tension will build up in my upper spine and my brain will feel like it's short circuiting and while I'm trying to study half of my thought will go towards breaking this excruciating barrier and the other half to unsuccessfully trying to read and comprehend nonsensical information on fermions and wave functions. Procrastination becomes inevitable at this point. I take adderall, and that helps keep me focused once I'm engaged, but it does nothing to help initiate the process. After years in college, I have tried to study early for every single test, and I have only been successful 2 or 3 times. In light of that, I am 100 percent certain that willpower has nothing to do with it. Can anyone relate, have you found a solution?

If you dont have ADD: pretend you have an important exam for a difficult quantum physics class. You can 1) spend 4 hours cramming (no adderall), or you can 2) beam the information directly into your brain, however you must undergo waterboarding for x amount of time. What would x equal in order for it to be worth it for you. The studying is painful enough that I would be willing to undergo maybe 35-60 minutes of waterboarding in place of 4 hours of cramming.
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Postby Richard@DecisionSkills » Mon Apr 01, 2019 5:01 am

The “Zeigarnik Effect” significantly reduces procrastination.

Instead of 4 hours or even 30 minutes, organize your study schedule around learning a single concept.

For example, you set a performance target for the week to study Physics 101, twice with the goal to “learn one concept”. That doesn’t set a time limit, specific days/times in the week, or number of pages to read. All you must do is open the book twice a week to learn a single concept.

One concept is the basic building block to understanding physics. It is hard to learn half a concept. This then helps with the motivation to pull the book out of your bag, open it, and start working on learning just one concept. The Zeigarnik Effect is what then turns that into learning 2 or 3 or 4 concepts in one study session.

Think of it this way. I want to run a marathon. Running 26 miles seems daunting. I need to train, but I procrastinate. Running even 30 minutes is repetitive day after day in order to train up to running the distance. It is psychologically and sometimes physically uncomfortable. Therefore, I set the smallest of tasks (goals), to run a single lap each day. That is all I must achieve, a single lap, 400 meters. That will only be 2 minutes of actual effort.

Because the task is so small, I put on my shoes, I stretch, I walk outside, all to meet the smallest goal of running 400 meters. I begin to run and around 300 meters into the run the Zeigarnik Effect kicks in and I say, “While I’m already running, I might as well run 400 more meters, right? I mean, after all I put on my shoes, I stretched, why not just do another lap, maybe two laps.”
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