Stress and procrastination

Someone in the occupational psychology course team clearly has a sense of humour. Having finally squeaked my way around the ethical approval process a couple of weeks ago and having recovered from the scars inflicted by the online submission process (cake is still on offer by the way) I’ve been working on my final module assignment. It’s on … stress.

The topic is fascinating as even though most people can tell you what it feels like for them to be experiencing stress at work (or anywhere else for that matter), there’s little agreement on definitions, theories and models. There are huge problems in making valid stress assessments – yet without them, the interventions that counsellors try probably won’t work – and if they do, their success won’t necessarily be because of the method they used. As some Norwegian researchers (*) observed at the turn of the century, “the process [of making an occupational stress and health intervention] can be as important as the content of the occupational stress intervention itself.” Well, quite.

However, it’s the challenges to “commonsense” from psychological research, such as those seen in the literature on workplace stress, that continue to excite me as a student. It’s just a shame that the amount of time that it’s taking me to come to terms with the issue and write the module assignment feels like a distraction from what I’d rather be doing, which is making progress with my own research for my dissertation. I’ve always been a procrastinator, but my tendencies to procrastinate spiral out of all control when I’m faced with such an intellectually stimulating topic.

This leads me to a question that I’m genuinely interested in hearing your answers to. I know that I’ll eventually break out of my procrastination spiral as the deadline for the module assignment approaches, but at the moment, as I’m not quite close enough to 3rd March for this to happen, my levels of stress are increasing. I know that if I could start to make rapid progress I’d feel better about this assignment – as well as feel better about the nagging certainty that I really do need to start making some rapid progress with the dissertation itself. What should I do?



(*) I’d normally put the reference in here, but trying to use Norwegian characters in WordPress is far too stressful a process for this time on a Sunday evening.

A version of this article was previously published at the University of Leicester Student Blogs, 14th February 2016.

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