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Until two years ago, I was a positive thinker, easily forgot petty issues, and was productive. After that I started studying for a masters in Computer Science and started a full time job. This means I started living by myself, paying bills, thinking about my future and relationships, and so on.

My brain is now becoming so weak. There are times I even forget names that I have been told ten times. I've become less productive, can't focus on one task, procrastinate on my tasks and become careless, but I still have the ego and emotion that I can become a productive and better person.

I have identified a list of my problems that are preventing me from becoming a productive person. I want to prioritize them and eliminate them one by one. I tried to get rid of all of them at once but it didn't work, which made me very depressed again. Here is the list:

  • I have no patience.
  • I have very low self-confidence.
  • I have become a negative thinker.
  • My social interaction is getting low. I spend most of the time at home, more than I used to.
  • I am a very angry person.
  • I lose focus on doing tasks or other things.
  • I have memory loss and easily forget things.
  • I suffer from procrastination (even to post this question).
  • I can't make decisions. I wait forever to make a simple decision (even to post this question).
  • My relationship is getting worse because of my low self-confidence and negative thinking (well it's a long distance relationship in the first place).
  • I want to become an entrepreneur but because of these issues I can't.
  • I am a poor planner.
  • I am not organized.
  • I have so many interests.

These issues are preventing me from becoming the productive and better person that I want to be. I would appreciate any advice.

I am 24 years old and I started using the Pomodoro technique.

UPDATE:

Okay, My strengths . Here I go.

One of the qualities I have is to interact with people and help people. But, I expect the same thing and mostly get disappointed.

If I say I will do something, I will get it done in anyways. I achieved somethings so far that my friends, my families and I even never thought I would do.

I like playing sport games, like soccer, basketball and the likes.

Last but not least, I have so many ideas of new business (esp in IT) but I start implementing one of them and think I should do the other one and never finish even one of them. So now I stopped doing that and thinking which idea I should start with. I want to be an entrepreneur.

I am not money oriented, but believe in having good customers and relationships in the future. I already make money 6 times than my 95% of friends do, drive very high tech 2013 car.

But, one thing that is not making me happy is my relationship. The main reason is we both live in different continent, very long distance relationship. I always want to give up, but I couldn't.

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Hi, it has bene some while since you posted the question. How are things going nowadays? I can be fun to look back and see probably how much has changed. :-) –  denniswennen Jan 12 at 8:55
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Hi @denniswennen, I can say not bad. At least I do have a confident in what I am doing. Don't need other people approval. Very positive thinker (as I used to be). Socially interactive. A little bit organized. And on the other side, I still have a little focus, easily distracted, still procrastinate (but better than I used to be). Forget things easily. I hope it helps. –  WowBow Jan 12 at 9:57
    
There is a course on "Focus" on placeboeffect.com that you might find useful. It can be done for free. –  Highly Irregular May 15 at 21:25
    
@HighlyIrregular It is not free :( –  WowBow May 17 at 21:28
    
How did your long distance relationship work out ? I am in the exact same situation like you at the moment. Low self-confidence long distance relationship and so on... –  Ibrahim Apachi Jul 14 at 12:55

14 Answers 14

Have you watched "No arms, no legs, no worries"? Nick is one of my heroes.

You sound like you are disappointed with yourself. Don't be. That kind of thinking is not productive.

You have a long list of improvements that you want to do. That's good. Started with an easiest one. Rewrite that list sorted from easiest to hardest. Stick it on your door so that you see it everyday. Focus on the first and don't look the others until you have improved on the first item. Strike it out of the list then focus on the 2nd and so on.

Pomodoro is a good start. It can help you manage your interruptions. Remember that at the end of the day, it does not matter how may items you have started or you are working on, what matters are the items you have accomplished.

Everyone has suggested many good techniques. If any techniques relate to the problem that you are addressing, give it a try in a limited time box. If it works for you, keep it. If it's not working, try something else but stick to the goal.

One by one and, before you know it, you will find yourself striking most if the list already. :) When you fix one problem, you are not just get rid if the problem but also understand yourself more and, suddenly, the other problems would become easier to you.

I know you can do it. :)

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Thanks juacompe. I will do my best to follow the best suggestions that will change me. –  WowBow Feb 1 '13 at 21:41
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Yeah Nick is great :) –  hellectronic Feb 2 '13 at 9:56

Whoa ... slow down. :)

Let's look at what you have.

You have a great degree and a full-time job. Your basic needs and many of your wants are met.

You've talked a lot about your weaknesses. What are your strengths? List those. (You don't have to tell us if you don't want to. This is for your benefit.)

You have passions, right? Something that really gets you going. Enjoy doing that.

Maybe the structure that you had in grad school kept you sane, and now that this has gone, you have a structure vacuum and aren't handling it as well. Try putting some structure back into your life if it's not there.

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2  
+1 for suggestion to focus on strengths and enjoying passions –  srnka Jan 31 '13 at 8:42
    
@John.. Thanks for your advice. I updated to include my strength. I appreciate your advice based on that. –  WowBow Feb 1 '13 at 21:33
    
@WowBow That's good! –  John Feb 3 '13 at 8:07

You have listed a lot of typical symptoms of depression. Try to get medical opinion on this. Check out what assistance your health insurance gives you, or as SteveV says, check out the option of paying for treatment.

Explain your feelings to friends and family. Ask them for help and advice. Make social interaction a priority, even when you don't feel in the mood.

You have taken on a lot of work: full time job and also a full time degree. Does this leave enough time to let your brain recover, or for you to spend time on sleep, hobbies relationships, friends and family? You have to consider if this is a reasonable workload for you. If not, then you can discuss the workload with your university, or possibly with your workplace.

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I am still working on it through Employee Assistance Program. I also updated my question. Please have a look at it. Thanks –  WowBow Feb 1 '13 at 21:35
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@WowBow: What do you mean by "it"? Do you mean that you have been diagnosed with depression? If so, I can only recommend to keep at the Program, and make sure that you get the help you need, from someone properly qualified who you trust, who can respond to the situation you are in, in a confidential environment. Good luck! –  Fillet Feb 4 '13 at 8:45

Seems to me your mind is clouded by negative thoughts. You should give mindfulness training a try. It's basically a very simple meditation technique (inspired by Buddhism) where you quietly sit down and focus on your breath, actively trying to eliminate all other thoughts. If done 7 minutes per day for a couple of weeks, this training has been shown to actually rewire your brain so that destructive thoughts are suppressed. Instead, you experience a much greater focus, which will make you become a happier and more productive person.

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You are right. and it's true. I think negative things mostly but couldn't stop. I tried Transcendental Meditation 2 years ago but because it conflicts with my religion, I was forced to stop it. –  WowBow Feb 1 '13 at 21:36
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"Transcendental Meditation" is a religious group. If you already have another religion and you are okay with it, it makes sense to avoid them. Small-M "meditation" is a mental relaxation technique, just like push-ups are a physical exercise technique. There should be no religious problems with small-m meditation, just like with push-ups. (In theory, some religions might consider push-ups sinful; please consult your local theologist.) Quietly sitting, breathing, and not thinking, should be okay regardless of who invented it. BTW, people from the same culture also invented numbers we use today. –  Viliam Búr Dec 2 '13 at 16:33
    
On the other hand, if you are diagnosed with depression (or if you are depressed but refuse to see a doctor, which is quite common for depressed people), that could be a good reason to avoid meditation. Also a good reason to visit a doctor. –  Viliam Búr Dec 2 '13 at 16:39

Have no patience, Have a very low self confidence, Have become a negative thinker, Loosing focus on doing tasks or other things, Memory loss, easily forget things, Procrastination (even to post this question), Can't make decisions.

sounds like a depression to me (but I am no expert). Would you consider a visit to a shrink? (try your best to find a good one, that's important). Even if it will cost you $$$, it could be a very wise investment

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I am still working on it through Employee Assistance Program. I also updated my question. Please have a look at it. Thanks –  WowBow Feb 1 '13 at 21:34

The language you are using appears to me to be limiting your choices. The way you are describing your world shows that you have a "mental map" of it that is so limited, it is no surprise you are unhappy. So if you will allow me, I will respond to each self-description you provided by asking some probing questions:

  • Whom or what do you "have no patience" with? Do you ever show patience? What is the difference between the times you show patience and you don't?
  • You do not have confidence that you can do what? What are you confident you can do? Even if you were not confident you could succeed, what would it mean if you tried anyway? What if you failed? What if you succeeded?
  • You think negatively about what? Do you always think negatively? Your desire to change something by posting here seems to be positive to me--so at least sometimes you think positively.
  • When you spent more time away from home in the past, what did you do? What is stopping you from spending that time now? Who, specifically, is your social interaction with less than it used to be? Do you have any social interaction at all?
  • What are you angry about? When the feelings of anger come, what is your anger directed at? What feelings or events occur before you recognize the feeling of anger (what is the antecedent)?
  • When you lose focus, what do you focus on instead? What tasks do you lose focus on? Are you ever able to focus? Can you think of a difference between the kinds of things that you are able to focus on and the things that you lose focus on?
  • What kinds of things are you forgetting? You said you are forgetting names. What is stopping you from remembering names? Do you want to remember them? Is something different now that makes it harder for you to remember names? If you did remember names, what would it mean?
  • What kinds of things used to motivate you, that aren't motivating you now? Are there any areas of your life that you feel the following (and if so, can you do something to increase these areas):
    • Mastery - the sense that you are very good at something.
    • Autonomy - having areas (especially areas of mastery) you are in control of, where you make the decisions and plan what will happen next, at your own discretion.
    • Purpose - the knowledge that the things you are doing, learning, experiencing, or working toward are meaningful and have significance. Especially, the areas of mastery where you have autonomy.
  • Can you never make decisions, at all? What would happen if you made a decision right away? What would happen if you made the wrong decision? Have you made wrong decisions you are afraid of repeating? What does deciding mean to you? I presume you are able to choose what clothes to wear, and what food to eat, and whether to drink water or juice, and so on. So you can make some decisions, yes? So what kind of decisions do you find yourself putting off and which ones do you not put off? Can you imagine what deciding quickly would look like? Pick something you are having trouble deciding about and pretend that you could decide--what would you choose (all in fantasy, of course).
  • When you say your "relationship", I presume you mean a love interest. How does your low self-confidence affect your relationship negatively? How is your negative thinking harming the person you are in a relationship with? Is the person self-confident? Do you have confidence in the person?
  • What would happen if you did become an entrepreneur? What will happen if you don't? Will you disappoint someone (in either case)? Will you be doomed to a certain kind of life? Will you please someone you don't want to please? Are you able to spend a moment fantasizing about what being an entrepreneur would feel like?
  • What specific things have you not planned well? What kinds of things would you like to plan better? Do you plan everything badly? Have you ever planned something well? Can you plan something small today and have a small success?
  • Are there areas of your life that are organized? Have you ever organized anything well? What about the disorganization bothers you? Could you possibly have a productive and full life even in the midst of some disorganization? In which areas does organization matter the most?
  • What are you interested in? Are the interests conflicting? What is it about being interested in so many things that is preventing you from getting what you want? What would happen if you were to pick one or two interests and simply choose to pursue them and set aside the other interests for a while?

I ask these questions for two purposes:

  1. To try to demonstrate what I said above, that your "map" of the world may not be reflecting reality. For whatever reason, you have cut off your choices and are having trouble realigning your perception with the real world. These questions test your assumptions. I reworded things that you've presented as accomplished facts or even attributes about yourself, as ongoing or as processes that can be changed and are not fixed--since in reality they are not fixed. These questions may be helpful, or scary/disturbing. They may even do nothing for you at all--but that doesn't mean they're the wrong questions, just that something is going on in your life that makes you unready to fully consider the answers.

  2. In any case, I think you would very likely be helped by finding a good counselor or therapist. My questions above are exactly the kinds of things that a therapist can help you see the answers to. You may have unresolved childhood trauma. You may be reacting to expectations of family members. You may have "introjects" that you've received that you need help discovering and dismantling. You said that you just moved out on your own for the first time--this could be overwhelming, especially if you were not well-prepared when growing up to be out on your own. Therapy can help you uncover the root causes of your current predicament and then find solutions for those causes.

    Seeking out a therapist doesn't mean you're defective or crazy or that anything is wrong with you. In my opinion, it shows something is right with you! Think about it--if you were struggling to learn a sport or physical skill, wouldn't it make sense to hire a knowledgeable personal trainer who specializes in teaching that skill to people? Similarly, a therapist is someone who specializes in helping people change the way they think and act, to get different results in their lives. Therapists are like personal trainers that you hire to coach you on how to change what results you get. Once you receive the help and become more skilled, just like with a personal trainer, you stop seeing them. You are better off because you have learned new skills. You have changed the patterns of your thinking and created new neural pathways that enable you to have new choices you didn't have before.

Finally, if you have any spiritual beliefs, I recommend pursuing them. Life can often appear to be empty and meaningless. Without some kind of bigger-than-you purpose, what do you have? Living for yourself or for accomplishment or for power, possessions, pleasure, or ego? These pale and become unsatisfying. Find something meaningful to live for and throw yourself into it. I believe that any honest search for real meaning, for truth and purpose, will ultimately lead in the same direction. And I think you would greatly benefit from seeking such out.

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I appreciate your detailed answer. –  WowBow Feb 9 '13 at 16:59
    
If you do decide to seek a therapist, I would suggest that you might find one who specializes in behavior modification. They will teach you the specific skills you need to stop the negative self-talk and start taking action. –  HLGEM Jun 4 '13 at 19:46

I have been there too and I have managed to solve these issues by taking away the origin. The things you describe in your question are the consequences. Focussing on the consequences won't solve your problem.

Start doing the following:

  • Go running every (other) day. If possible before work and not after work. If you don't like running, start anyway. After 6 weeks you reached the point where you start to enjoy it. It's the perfect way to clean up your mind. I always get the best IT entrepreneurial ideas in the 60 minutes after I went out for a run.

  • Take time for your breakfast. Spend every morning at least 30 minutes sitting behind a table and reading something (no TV/computer).

  • Eat healthy food and limit the amount of food (especially meat, sugar and coffee). A lot of your energy will go to digestion. It works best to gradually lower the amount of food you eat. Furthermore it's better to have 6 small meals per day, instead of 2 or 3 large meals.

  • Don't skip lunch at work. It's important to step away from your IT work before it has eats up all your energy. Even when you feel you are very close to reaching an important milestone, pause your work and finish it off with renewed energy after lunch. If possible go for a stroll.

  • Give structure to your day, if that's difficult for you try to copy the previous day, e.g. do exactly the same things in the same order between the moment you get out of bed and arrive at work.

  • Switch off TV/computer the last 90 minutes before you go to sleep. Furthermore try to avoid doing sports after supper.

  • Go out for a hike in the weekend. Enjoy nature, feel the sun on your skin, the wind in your hair, observe all the details nature has to offer and keep on walking until you feel tired. If nobody is available to join, go out on your own. It gives you the opportunity to empty your mind.

As a result you will be less depressed and apathetic and you are able to deal with the problems on your list. I expect that some of your problems will just solve itself when you take away the cause.

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It's really great advice Ruut. Now I am compiling all the answers I got in this Forum and apply them. Thanks –  WowBow Feb 10 '13 at 17:29

You want to do so many things at a time and you are not able to do them and that is making you not happy and not satisfied with your life. I really think that these list of problems arises due to the reason I just mentioned.

I think that the best thing you must be doing right now is to pick up one thing for a month and follow 'Don't break the chain rule'. read the link here. For the greater probability of success it is very important in your case to pick up only one thing for the time being. After that you can build on that.

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True that. But, I feel like all of them are important and couldn't find a way to prioritize which comes first. I ask my self, should I first build my confidence or my relationship? practice positive thinking or first control my anger? and so on. That kept me from trying even one of them. Any suggestions? –  WowBow Feb 1 '13 at 21:39
    
i think that the most important thing should be to think reasonably about own self. you should not be an over confident person or an under confident confidence. so first of all build on the confidence. many of the other things will follow automatically. try to get some reasonable achievement under your belt is the way to build on the self esteem. –  maz3tt Feb 2 '13 at 7:52
    
for example as i am a programmer and if i want to build on my confidence in it what i will do ?. if i have a month to do it i will try to solve 2 or 3 programming problems in a day without break for a month. and this is the human nature i will automatically feel confident after a month. you just need to systematic and disciplined about it. –  maz3tt Feb 2 '13 at 8:00
    
why not try to get some very good gpa in your masters. what ever left of it. start from today. –  maz3tt Feb 2 '13 at 8:02

Dude, bottom line is, you are capable of working on all the issues you have listed (from what I read, I know this for sure). To start with, all this that you have listed, have you been told, or these are what you believe ? Is this people from work telling you OR people at home ? If its just work, frankly dont take things so personally. If at home, yes you do need to mend ways.

Things that you should do

  1. Take off, a nice big break and do things that YOU enjoy. Like participate in a league of the sport of your choice. Do things that you are GOOD at. If you are happy, positive energy will flow.
  2. Drink a lot of water, since when your brain is swimming in water, it has a lot more oxygen to think.
  3. When dealing with people think of 2 things that you need to achieve (apart from what ever you are dealing with) TRUST and COMPETENCY. If people dont trust you, they wont see how competent you are. If you are not competent, you wont be trusted.
  4. Every conversation PREPARE dont go into meetings unprepared. Spend time thinking about the agenda.
  5. Rephrase what people just asked you, so that your brain gets time to think. Carry that bottle of water.
  6. Eat protein in the morning. Low protein is connected to low energy and bad mood's
  7. Change your habits. All of them. Dont drive to work, get driven. Dont sleep late, see less TV. Spend more time in the park and GET YOUR HEAD OUT OF STACKOVERFLOW and other sites.
  8. Change... Change.. Change..

Things will be good..

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Thanks for sharing your thoughts –  WowBow Feb 10 '13 at 17:42

Whoa, I can see why you're failing. That's a lot of negativity. You simply cannot get rid of them all at once. You're right to identify that you should only be focusing on them one at a time (unless they can be bundled together like low patience and anger issues).

I suspect that your emotional problems come from poor health and stress. Make sure you get a good diet and enough sleep. A lot of problems with focus today are caused by sleep deprivation.

You should probably look at Getting Things Done by David Allen, which should solve some of those issues. You seem to have a lot of things occupying your mind at the same time; this is normal for creative, ambitious people. GTD involves writing everything in your mind down and arranging them so that you can forget about it and fix it one by one.

Since you have a lot of things to worry about, I'd recommend beginning with reading Getting Things Done. It should help with your problems with organization, planning, and ambitions/interests.

Think positively. While you have to identify your problems, they will sap your energy. As John has said, focus on your strengths - you're a smart person with a good job, and just by making a move to fix yourself, you're on the path of getting life back on track.

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Thanks Muz. I started working on my issues –  WowBow Feb 10 '13 at 17:21

Short-term solution: Take a break. Go on vacation and come back. This is the most straight-forward solution to recharge.

Long-term solution: Get yourself tested for adult ADD

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Life is too easy

Don't stress yourself to do do anything. If you want to do something love it and you'll do it marvellously.

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Welcome to the new world order! I am very sorry to depress you, but in order to win the war, you must know the enemy.

Who is your enemy? Yourself? Your mind? Or a way of life that has been imprinted in our minds since we were born? What are we are trying to achieve? What is true success for YOU and what for "society"?

My opinion is that you have to do a more philosophical research with yourself and find an approach that fits you most. TNWO and consumerism, the modern way of life, each one or all together, don't leave us many choices. But we have to dig through the mud and s**t to rise above everything and find a reason, a meaning in life.

Your mind has become weak because they're feeding it with BS. Internet, TV, foolishness which spreads like a disease, take over your sanity.

My only advice is "prepare to fight, in order to win". And by "win" I mean to achieve what you TRULY want in your life. I suppose you don't want to work 8 or 9 or >10 hrs for someone else, consume and then die, right ?

We people, have the power, strength and courage to fight and be winners. Grab your shield and your sword, make a plan, protect your mind and your life from BD getting in. Then deploy.

Sorry to disappoint you, it's depressing but as I said, we are strong and by knowing who/what/when to fight, we win.

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There are a lot of things that help productivity but one particular thing I'd like to focus on is your forgetfulness, which could be caused by diet.

In fact, given that you're young and you used to have a good memory and your other issues improved, I think it's quite likely your diet. Irritability is a blood sugar control symptom.

Personally I gained a lot of energy from switching to a Paleo-type diet:

Do-nots:

  • avoid high-omega 6 oils, so basically all plant oils except coconut, palm and avocado. Don't eat anything prepared with them. (there goes most processed food)
  • avoid anything sweetened in any way. Sugar is terrible for you and a dependence on sweet taste will only result in blood sugar fluctuations which are very bad for concentration. Learn to live with 85% chocolate, some fruit during the day and maybe a small sweet thing for dessert after dinner.
  • don't eat any grains except white rice (and only as part of a meal). Grains and especially wheat are generally inflammatory and cause blood sugar fluctuations. So no breads, wraps, cookies etc.
  • only eat beans and seeds sparingly, preferably after soaking for 24h and cooking thoroughly.

Dos:

  • eat unprocessed foods (cooking is good), including meat, fish, lots of vegetables (raw and cooked) and some fruit
  • eat more fat. Don't avoid it, don't trim it, don’t choose lean cuts of meat. Let your tastes guide you.
  • eat enough starch to cover your daily needs (about 400kcal). Potatoes, rice, yams, rice noodles, ...
  • eat highly nutritious foods like egg yolk, seafood, organ meats etc.
  • skip breakfast. Intermittent fasting boosts immunity and blood sugar control.

Personally I have followed http://perfecthealthdiet.com for a couple of years now, and I am of consistent good health and stable weight. I am convinced that eating like this is way healthier than the standard food pyramid and much better for mental and physical performance.

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