I have a paper due for Psychology. It’s not an essay – those I find a strange enjoyment in writing, probably because I enjoy writing in general. No, this is something much worse.
I have to write my first research report. For those unfamiliar with research reports in psychology, it involves presenting a complex series of findings based around a particular hypothesis or theme. Mathematical findings. Statistics. Averages. Standard Deviations. Oh, the humanity.
I’m not a fan of maths, in case you couldn’t tell. It’s not that I can’t do maths, it’s that it is one area that has always made me second-guess myself. I can quickly add up multiple numbers however once I’ve come up with an answer I start doubting that I’ve added it correctly, so I often end up grabbing a calculator just to confirm that I had the correct answer all along. I’m sure there’s some deep-rooted reason why this is the case; frankly I could care less. Up until now that is. If I want a Psychology degree then I had better suck it up, because next year (second year) I am required to complete an entire unit called ‘Research Methods and Statistics’, then in my third year there is another mandatory unit called ‘Advanced Research Methods and Statistics’. Fun.
In order to push past my current bout of procrastination, I’ve broken down all the tasks I need to achieve into daily chunks then I am following a simple three-step process for getting less-than-desirable stuff done:
- Do something fun before you start (puts you in a good mood), and decide what you will do for fun immediately after you complete the task(s) you’ve been putting off (to reward your hard work)
- Set a timeframe and outline the specific things you will achieve in that timeframe, including why they are important tasks to complete (in terms of the big picture), and GET IT DONE
- Reward yourself by doing something fun immediately after you complete the task(s) you needed to complete
Using my work today as an example, I’m applying this simple approach as follows:
- Write a blog post (that’s fun for me) and pick out a comedy on Netflix that I’m going to watch after I finish my uni work for the day (I’ll be re-watching a couple of episodes of The I.T. Crowd, one of my favourite UK sitcoms)
- Watch the three one-hour lectures (online) on Data Analysis and Reporting that I have been putting off in fear of my eyes rolling into the back of my head and never coming back out, and spend two hours after the lectures applying what’s been covered to analyse the data that needs to go into the research report I’m writing – and throughout all this, remember that it’s not important whether I like this part of my studies or not, it’s what is required in order to obtain my degree (and since obtaining my degree is aligned to much more important long-term life goals, this is just a bit of short-term pain for long-term gain)
- Watch my show on Netflix and unwind, secure in the knowledge that I have taken a big step towards having my report submitted AND that I’m on my way towards getting my degree
So there’s my advice. I’d love to hear your thoughts – what works for you?