(This is actually my problem, but I ask it from the perspective of my parents.)

I'm a 20-year old in second year of undergraduation in Computer Science (I wasted the first year though due to alcohol abuse and lack of responsibility, so it's as if I'm in the first year).

I have interest in learning advanced mathematics, and have "excellent grades", often obtaining maximum grades in tests (I'm not satisfied with them though, feeling unmotivated when getting a grade that isn't maximum). I complain about lacking motivation to study, and rarely study. I am depressed because of this situation and tried to cut myself but had no courage. I also went to a psychologist, but it had no effect and felt like a waste of time and money.

This has been a problem for many years already, and nothing that I tried solved the problem. Sometimes I make a "plan" to study and might even follow it for some days, but always end up giving up on it, and then won't do almost anything for weeks or months. Another problem is that when having a task with deadlines, when the deadlines start coming near, my motivation for it drops and I try to find excuses to give up on it.

All I seem to do all day when there are no classes is listening to music, talking to people online and watching videos. Sometimes I spend a long time simply staring at my computer screen in inaction. During that time I am often upset by the fact that I should be studying, but something in my head tells me not to study, and seems to reward me for not doing it. On the upside, during classes I'm usually very concentrated and participative.

This problem seems unsolvable, nothing I search on the internet nor anyone I ask says anything that is helpful. Is there anything else that I can do, or tell my parents to do to help me?

  • You sound like you have inattentive ADD. Try a different psychologist and specifically state you think you may have ADD, so they test for it. In the meantime, rather than break up your work based on time spent like John Doe's answer (or you end up spending the time staring into space - at least I do), break up your work based on tasks. Break them up into such tiny pieces that you can't possibly get overwhelmed. E.g., something as basic as read your assignment question. Reward yourself with checking for new emails. Then making some dot points for how to answer it. etc.
    – Erin
    Commented Apr 26, 2019 at 5:07
  • 1
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because this isn't a parenting question (and isn't written as such despite the first paragraph). It is either a self-help question or something that should be handled by professionals (psychologist, psychiatrist, doctor, etc.).
    – Becuzz
    Commented May 31, 2019 at 13:24
  • Almost every person has that voice inside that says, "You should be doing the important productive thing, but here's an idea, let's NOT do that!" Procrastination is in fact very rewarding for many people, and doubly so for perfectionists who might think "If I don't do it at all, I can't mess up". If I was your parent, I would tell you that the trick is to create a habit, and just get started-- Don't put pressure on yourself to follow an elaborate, punishing study plan. Study for a short time (even 10-15 min) at the same time every day. Give yourself permission to not be perfect.
    – Meg
    Commented Jun 3, 2019 at 15:17

3 Answers 3


You sound a lot like me, and I'm in the midst of trying to treat my ADD and depression.

There are a number of things that you could try:

  • Make a reward system (I can watch videos for half an hour if I study for one hour);
  • If internet/computer access is not necessary for some activities, download productivity apps that lock your phone or certain apps on your phone for a period of time;
  • Find different activities that can be your "play": you may enjoy those activities, but they require approximately zero effort on your part. If all you ever do is zero-effort activities, then doing things that require effort is going to be that much harder. I'm not talking taking up jogging or anything. Find a comic book shop in town, see what games that they have events for (especially beginner events), and take up a new hobby. Anything that involves face-to-face, extended interactions with people, which I realize may sound daunting.
  • Have a study buddy. Even if you even don't talk during these study sessions, having another person there may motivate you to get work done and not get distracted;
  • In a similar vein, seek out your professors and ask them about course material, or anything else in their field that interests you
  • Don't rely on any one technique; try some of these out in addition to whatever else anybody else can think of. You'll proably need a multi-faceted approach to overcome this

Above all, don't try to eliminate leisure activities; it's like people who try to cut 600 calories a day from their diet or commit to going to the gym "every day": if you last a week, you'd be doing better than most.

  • 1
    +1 sounds like depression to me. I also recommend adding in eating a healthy balanced diet and exercising regularly.
    – jcmack
    Commented Apr 26, 2019 at 7:01

I agree with Erin and John Doe, you may have some combination of ADD and depression, but since you've said you're looking for new ideas, I'll skip the suggestion that you go to a psychologist. Instead (and this is what I would have my child do, if she were in this position, maybe in parallel with seeing a psychologist), I suggest that you:

1) Take a year's leave of absence from your undergraduate college experience, which is currently going nowhere.

2) Find a 30 hours/week job that's straightforward, non-stressful, involves dealing with other adults, and is relatively low status. Working at McDonald's, landscaping, painting houses would all be candidates.

3) Find one (or two?) good, challenging university mathematics course that you can take for credit in your spare time (in a classroom, not just on-line).

My reasons are as follows. First, and most obviously, having to work hard at a low status job for (probably) low pay will help supply you with motivation to excel at learning something that will eventually get you high pay.

Second, a relaxing, manual labor job that requires only 30 hours per week should pair well with an advanced mathematics course. Each should come as a soothing balm after the other: something relaxingly easy after something difficult, and something impressively difficult after something embarrassingly simple.

Third, if you've never held a job before you will find that getting out of the house and interacting with people (hopefully you're not too depressed to manage this) will be good for you, and learning to take responsibility for yourself -- getting to work on time, dealing maturely with difficult people (sorry, they're everywhere), handling problems that come up at work or on your commute to work -- should quite rightly bolster your self-esteem (go, you!), which could take the pressure off your expectations of yourself as someone who is supposed to be good at math. Especially if you've started to worry that your failing at the one thing that you are supposed to be good at. Which would make anyone depressed! (Which reminds me, if you don't already have one, find a non-screen activity that you can put time into and slowly improve at. Guitar, martial arts, gardening, painting, skating, whatever. Again, because it will take the pressure off the math thing; I'm not trying to wean you from all on-line activity.)

If this works, and you start putting the work into your math course, I suggest you continue this for a year, then decide whether you want to go back to school full time or continue to work while you get a degree in your spare time. (If you decide to continue to do the work/school thing, at this point you should consider looking for a better job.) If you decide to go back to school full time, you might rethink your decision to be a computer science major, however. People can be good at something without enjoying it, and after a year in the "real world" you may find that something else appeals to you more.

Yes, it's sort of drastic, and a "one step backwards" approach to higher education, but I think some people really need to work a year before going to college, in order to want to be there, and you might be one of them.

Good luck!


On reading your post, the first thing that came to my mind was, “You are born to become someone big! May be a Mathematician, may be a Computer Science graduate or may be something else; whatever you will pursue, you have that promise in you which will definitely make you shine.”

I am saying this because your own words are revealing it. You said, you have interest in learning advanced mathematics. Then you said you have excellent grades, and often obtain maximum grades. Hearty Congratulations! for not everyone is naturally good in a subject like mathematics.

And then this one - “I'm not satisfied with anything less than maximum.”- Hey, that’s the language of a winner! This is the very spirit that takes one to soaring heights, in whatever one ventures into!

So, you have an exceptional personality, which is currently confused, for it has no goal in life.

Not all are made for hard-core academics! During my school days, I had a friend, named Anita, who aImost in every exam, would score full marks in maths, but would fumble in every other subject. The entire school mocked her on the basis of her report-card filled with red lines, barring one subject i.e. maths. However, our School Principal, who was not only intelligent, but very understanding too, personally assessed the depth of my friend’s capabilities in the subject of mathematics. She then called for her parents, and demonstrating their child’s outstanding abilities, urged them to never devalue this diamond that they have in their home. The Principal insisted to groom this little girl under her personal observation; and you bet, under her care, Anita never looked back! She surged way ahead of us, with a single-point focus on the goal that our Principal had lovingly given to her. I think your life too is in the need of a goal! Your immediate goal of course is to complete your studies.

“During classes I'm usually very concentrated and participative” again, it is the sign of an achiever! In today’s times, people are turning the world upside down in an attempt to improve their concentration power. And here, you have this upside as a God-given gift to you! What more can you ask for? Pull up your socks, put your head down, study well and come through with flying colours👍

To my mind, maybe you like mathematics so much; that no other subject interests you. This could be the reason why you rarely study, why you don’t like to study and why you lack motivation to study. This is why you cannot pursue your study ‘plans’ and this is why you deliberately waste your time. All your problems seem to be stemming out from the fact that you have a strong dislike for the subjects, at the root of which is that you love maths and nothing else.

But since you are good at maths, it implies, you already have in you the analytical thinking, problem solving skills, good reasoning, and communication ability -qualities that go with maths. So why not tap on these beautiful skills, and apply them for getting yourself to study these subjects once and for all, so that you can complete your graduation and be free from it all. It is just a matter of one or two years, and it will all be over! You will then be a free bird, and can select an occupation of your own choice!

Close your eyes, and for a while think about what you would love to do once you have finished your studies. What is your passion? Think... And once you have a clear picture of it in your mind, set it as your next ‘Goal’. Goal means something you aim for, desire for, something you genuinely like to strive for! It is a wrong arithmetic when you say, “If I have motivation, I will have a goal.” The right arithmetic is, “When you have a goal, motivation comes on its own.” Once you have a mission in mind, you automatically get the energy for it! So do not run after deadlines, run after live goals.

In this short post, you have displayed many signs of how you are uniquely blessed than the rest! Yet currently, a feeling of inadequacy, a belief that I am lacking something, some kind of discontentment within you, is what is making you think that you are having some big problem.

Just have trust in yourself, and you are ready to forge! Problems are meant to come and go, but you are there to stay. Problems are lifeless, but you are graced with life. So, never give up! Combat problems, find solutions and live life fully. Great people have the power to change the world and they witness the change with their own eyes. Wishing you loads of good luck, peace and happiness in life. May God always be your guiding light!!!

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .