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I consider myself a productive person. I get most of my things done to a level which I'm happy with.

But sometimes my productivity just goes down the drain. I sleep in to the point of oversleeping (and even then I don't feel rested), and feel no joy in anything. On some level I want to work and I'm aware of what my goals are and everything but I just can't do it. Everything stops. I feel like procrastinating on the simplest task.

Then at other times I can work from early in the morning and until 2AM, getting a lot done and then wake up at 7 or 8 and go at it again.

I'm usually in one of two states: Either I'm really on, or I'm really off. I can't seem to predict or control it in any way. When I'm really off, I usually can't even concentrate enough to do something purely enjoyable like watching an episode of a TV show, and I just want to be alone in my room doing absolutely nothing. It's like I don't have a "normal" setting.

I have been like this for years, but now it's becoming a real problem since the tasks I am given are harder, so I can't "mask" it by simply sprinting through a lot of work to get ahead and then slow down to a crawl when my head stops working. I used to be able to do that, but now I just don't have the time for "down-time". And when I will enter the workforce, I will be even less able to do this (I'm just a student now).

What is your advice?

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I can relate. Have you ever been tested for ADHD? What you describe is a common trait. – Mark Freedman May 6 '12 at 14:08
Congratulations, you are a human being. Sometimes you are more productive than others. We all have that, sure in your case it might be more extreme than for others, but you should just learn to live with it. Produce a lot when you can, rest a lot when you fell like it. – bjarkef May 30 '12 at 14:34

Your situation is surely difficult to deal with. What I can tell you is it has two main aspects:

  • The physiologic one: you must go to a Neurologist and perhaps also to a Nutritionist in order to check if everything goes well. For example, some thyroid hormones may be out of their recommended limits, or perhaps you have some syndrome or disorder. These physicians will surely ask you to do some examinations. I urge you to do this, even more knowing you are still an student, because when you will be out there working, the time will run faster but it will also run short.
  • The practical one: something you can afford to do just now: try to identify the context when these changes of state happen. Try to remember —at least for the last months— how long each state lasts, what you were doing when the change happened, where were you then, and so on. This will not only be useful for yourself, but also when you go (I strongly advise you to) to the doctor.
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Re: point 2: I have the same problem; I can say the slumps and highs seem independent of the actual subject matter, and have varied in terms of duration from half hour to a day and a half. Personally, I ride it out, and work extra in the week (week-end recoup just doesn't work for me). – Liz May 3 '12 at 7:56
As part of the identifying the contexts, be sure to keep written notes! The human memory is too fuzzy for tracking this sort of thing. I track my migraines and often have thought that they were particularly bad or good only to look back at my notes and realize my analysis was completely wrong. – Belisama May 3 '12 at 10:31

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