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How can I better prioritize my diminishing study habits?

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I don't think I've ever been able to focus for > 30 minutes... at least where work is involved. I'm currently a community college freshman, and I'm one of those kids who study the night before and still manage to lack a bit that causes my grade to go down. But recently I've begun to wonder if all the time that I waste will catch-up, and all the work that's starting to pile up will haunt. The problem is, that has always happened to me in high school, but I had gotten through with decent grades without much of a problem.


I mean I've had moments where I'll sit down and feel enlightened, feverishly completing a week's-worth of learning... But those are quite few and far between. What usually happens is I'll get back from class (some classes I don't even bother going to) and spend hours doing everything else BUT studying. And at the end of the day, I'll usually look back and be like "wow, what a wasted day, but no longer, tomorrow will be different..."


I really wonder how productive I would be if I prioritized and spent my time more meaningfully. This is not to say that I don't do any extracurriculars; I take 21 credit hours, I am involved in the Hispanic American Leadership Organization, work-out at the gym (I'm trying to lose some weight, so basically I force myself to go) attend meetings for the Student Council, consult to my psychologist every Tuesday about a big problem I'm having (besides this), work at Wal-Mart on weekends, learn flute, drums, and saxaphone, perform for concerts (I am in the Jazz Band and Wind Ensemble) and a work-study job 10 hours a week. But the truth is my life is usually a bunch of long wasteful periods, I'd estimate around 7 hours a day, spontaneously segmented by an extremely productive 30-45 minutes... Help?



*I'm also starting to suspect that I'm taking on more than I can handle...*

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You could try talking to your psychiatrist about it. I started to go to a shrink at first for depression but we ended up talking a lot about my procrastination and all the anxiety that goes along with it. CBT can be very helpful and really I dont think I would have passed my last semester courses without adjusting my outlook and the way I worked. Dont expect a dramatic change overnight but I did change for the better overall.


Im a perfectionist and there is a lot of fear of failing issues there that came from demanding parents, dont think that some of it isnt related or that your shrink cant help.


Ive read a lot of self help books and stuff but it never really worked, I think having to see a shrink once a week and discuss my progress and being accountable in a way is what helped me stay on track. If I just read it in a book I would think "oh gee that is a good idea" but had no system in place to ensure I would implement it.

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I wonder if you're spreading yourself a bit thin. Extracirriculars are good, but they shouldn't detract from your coursework.


It sounds to me like you realize you aren't doing your best work, and that you want to work to change that.


I'd have two suggestions:


Make a study schedule for yourself, and stick to it. If your schedule says you should be studying, study. Discipline yourself. Work first, play later.


Create a space that's free of distractions and go to that place when you study. I found that I generally don't get much work done at home because there's so many things to do, so I spent my study time in the library. Yes, it does mean I have to spend much more time on campus, but I was way more productive, just because there isn't anything else to do at the library.


If you're already seeing a psyschologist I'd ask him/her for any more tips.

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One other thing- hold yourself to a standard of excellence, and be hard on yourself. If you turn in a crappy paper, and you still get an A, it's still a crappy paper and that's not acceptable. Don't be satisfied with merely doing acceptable work, always do what you know is your best work, and make time for that.

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