The Doom Loop
24 April 2017 - By Robyn Johnston, Master's student Persuasive Communication: 'With a little positivity you can create productivity, escape the doom loop and make the thesis deadline.'
With the climax of all the deadlines last month, the coming and going of the last classes of my Master’s passed me by with no fanfare. It was only until this month when I was faced with time off that it hit me that my studies were coming to a close. Having to scramble together essays and enough revision to pass exams the past few weeks had clouded all my thought processes and ability to plan beyond the deadlines. Finally, there was time to breathe, and this three month stretch ahead of me felt like a behemoth of time. Had it not been for my Master’s thesis.
Once I’d started on my timetable, a very smart move from the university, I realised that 3 months wasn’t all that long for such a big project. Flashbacks of Manchester ‘11 of me procrastinating to the max started to resurge from the depths of where they’d been repressed many years ago. Of me doing all nighters (literally, the Manchester library was open 24/7, not like in Amsterdam). Of my doting dad who actually bought me a binding machine so I could push the deadline that bit longer and not have to wait a day or two for it to be bound by the backlogged binders. Whilst I believe no one is immune to the temptation of delaying for another day my skills for putting things off were particularly strong between the ages of 18 and 21. Whilst I like to think I’ve gained skills in organisation, that extreme procrastinator is always there, lurking below the surface waiting to make an unwelcome appearance once again.
In my quest to not regress back into the dissertation dark times of my undergraduate degree I have started looking for proof inwardly and outwardly for examples of triumph over procrastination. There was that time in January where I finished a statistics paper a day early so I could go to a festival. Me: 1, Procrastination: 0. Usually environment plays a big role as well; sitting in my bedroom usually produces zero results (too close to the kitchen). As does returning to my parents’ house in the countryside (they’ve just got a new puppy) or trying to study with friends back in London (pub usually wins). The formality of the library seems to be the only place which focuses my mind. I sometimes even feel the need to dress slightly smartly when I feel the cloud of procrastination hovering over me, to give me the illusion of going to work where not doing your work is simply not an option. A recent article by the Huffington Post states that the determinants of procrastination does not come from poor time management or laziness but instead it stems from negative emotions which hijack your mood. Thus placing you firmly in the ‘Procrastination Doom Loop’. Since you’ve decided you aren’t in the mood for work you begin with displacement activities - such as checking emails, tidying your room, making elaborate lunches etc. - the next thing you know it’s 9pm and you are feeling guilt stricken for achieving nothing. This again worsens your mood and places you deeper into the cycle. But you can exit this frustrating circle by taking control of your mood with emotional intelligence, looking at previous triumphs and believing in yourself that you can achieve something with your day. With a little positivity you can create productivity, escape the doom loop and make the thesis deadline.
Robyn Johnston (27) is currently enrolled in the Master’s programme in Communication Science (track Persuasive Communication). Her expected year of graduation is 2017.