I need more carrots and fewer sticks.
I’m still somewhere in the middle of this chapter, editing, revising, and trying to fill in the gaps. It is hard not to be overwhelmed by it all.
I do better with carrots – encouragement and positive reinforcement. I need to know that even my incremental progress is progress, and waiting until I’ve finished and polished a big chunk requires a lot more confidence than I have these days.
Sticks just shut me down and cause me to second guess my ability to develop intelligent ideas. Threats, accusations, and warnings about the dire consequences of not meeting a goal just feed into my negative thought cycle. Sometimes I do this to myself and sometimes I get these messages from other people.
This blog post gives a few suggestions about how to combat the feeling of being overwhelmed with too many things to do and the anxiety of academic pressure. I am already good at managing my schedule and identifying my daily goals. I think I’m OK with not comparing myself to others concerning how we decorate and clean our homes or how we take care of work related tasks and parenting. Where I really get stuck is #3 on her list of 5 tips.
3) Don’t burden yourself with thoughts of the impossible. Block visions of the must-do lists of all that you have to do over the next three months. It sounds silly, but too often you allow yourself to think that you have to do all these things now. Then you open yourself to feeling that you are ineffective and slacking off when you’re really doing so much.
These thoughts about upcoming projects and looming deadlines are indeed a crippling burden to bear. It is more helpful to me to reframe these issues into positive thoughts. “I am being an effective researcher/writer/editor; I am working hard and doing a lot right now.” Is this the best way to turn these negative thoughts into constructive visions of productivity and accomplishment?