Ever had trouble getting started? Hmm, thought so. About time for some pointers on how to kick start yourself into action, on your career, your research, your assignments or your revision, even when your brain is saying “OK, just get a cup of tea and a biscuit first”.
Regular readers will have spotted that there’s been a bit of a hiatus in this blog. I could point to heavy workload (that’s never stopped me before), trips to foreign shores (but holidays have never stopped me for long) or writing overload (probably a big culprit, but the new academic careers website is “almost there” now).
In reality, it’s not the break, it’s the getting restarted which has been the problem – “the next post” has become the big scary elephant in the corner of the room which must be ignored at all costs.
Help is at hand
I went back to two blog posts which really struck a chord with me over the last year on how to get started on scary tasks:
- “A visit from the Procrastination Fairy” is one of my favourite posts from The Thesis Whisperer, a blog originally created by Inger Mewburn, but now a collaborative blog designed to help PhD researchers through their journey towards completing their thesis (a lot of the content is just as useful for those Masters postgrads working on their research reports). There is some interesting discussion on an academic view of procrastination, mixed with commentary from someone who you feel really knows what you’re going through as a postgrad.
However, a recent post from Oliver Burkeman who writes in the Guardian made me look at all those theories on motivation differently:
- “The one-sentence solution to almost all procrastination (no, really)” does what it promises and reduces some of your guilt. (Basically, you don’t have to feel like doing something to get started, so don’t beat yourself up about not feeling “motivated” – just do it anyway. The article puts it much better obviously.)
Get going on your career
If you want to get started on your career and you’re currently a student, you could also use our Career Kickstart online tool which we launched in the Autumn. It’s aimed more at Masters and undergraduates, but even PhDs may get something out of it. In particular, it’s good at helping you recognise what you’ve already done and gently nudging you into making a start on your next step – have a go.
What really got me started
So, I’m back in the blogging saddle. Of course, what really drove me back to the blog was the other, even scarier, regular January elephant lurking in the corner – 15 group assignments for the Manchester Leadership Programme waiting to be marked.
At least the saving grace of these assignments is the bewildering range of topics the students come up with. Now, which one to mark first – “Would legalisation solve the problem of heroin addiction?” or “Diarrhoea in India” …?