We Can Dissertate If We Want To
August 26, 2013 3:57 PM Subscribe
How do you force yourself to work hard when you just don't care? I'm looking for practical tips/tricks, cognitive/behavioral strategies, and MacGyver-ish life kludges for pervasive procrastination.
posted by therumsgone to education (11 answers total) 69 users marked this as a favorite
I'm in the final year of a PhD program, and I'm having a hard time getting work done. This has progressed far beyond your garden variety procrastination: it's more like a paralyzing inability to even think about thinking about writing anything. I get anxious opening Microsoft Word, and I can't focus on research articles. I'd estimate that I've worked less than 40 hours in the past two months. I don't want it to be this way (the busier I am, the better I feel), but I don't know how to force myself to work on my dissertation. I was a productive rockstar as an undergraduate, so this is new for me.
I think it's likely that people will suggest therapy, and bring up the likelihood of depression. However, this isn't a wholesale loss of desire to participate in all activities that I once enjoyed. I still have a ton of motivation for hobbies I enjoy, I go out and do things, and I generally feel that my life is great. The lack of motivation is specific to grad school. The soul-crushingness of the PhD program has taken all pleasure out of my topic, to the point where I'm not particularly interested in my projects, my area, and even science in general.
In retrospect, graduate school wasn't a great fit for me, personality wise. I'm quite extroverted, which means I find the presence of others to be energizing. Sitting in my apartment alone and writing really tires me out. I thrive in high pressure situations that are fast paced and people-oriented; I like hard deadlines, clear hierarchy, and daily routines. Grad school is not like this. Actually, it's kind of the opposite of the type of situation I do well in, and it has shown in my work.
I've tried going to coffee shops and working with friends, but it doesn't help much because I still have no motivation to open the word document and type things. I wish I wasn't in graduate school; however, considering I've only got one year left, and I'm not paying for any of this, dropping out isn't an option I'm interested in.
TL/DR: How can I beat this procrastination, write my dissertation, and get the hell out of grad school?