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  • Julie T. Kinn 5:23 pm on August 21, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , bribery, legos, , punishment   

    Dealing with the Project you Hate Part III: Bribery and Punishment 

    Hello Darlings! This week’s post is the last installment of Dealing with the Project you Hate. In prior weeks I blogged about owning your hate and coping with it. This week I’m bringing out the big guns: Bribery and Punishment.

    I sometimes joke that bribery and punishment are my favorite parenting techniques. For example, “please stop pretending you are shooting your sister with your sandwich and I’ll tell you a silly joke. If you don’t, dinner’s over for you.” As adults, we don’t normally need to resort to bribery and punishment in order to finish work. When we’re lucky we are intrinsically motivated to finish projects.  At other times we have excellent extrinsic motivators: paychecks, CVs that need building, tenure review. Bribery and punishment are the big guns I call out when my id is in control and my superego is out to lunch.

    For example, I recently had an annoying errand to run. I had been avoiding this stupid errand to the point that I was waking up in the morning feeling guilty about it. Not good. To force myself to complete the task, I set up a bribery and punishment scenario. I first made a list of potential rewards (Table 1). Then I emailed my best friend and asked him to call me later in the day to see if I had completed my errand. For me, knowing there is a fancy coffee waiting for me at the end of the rainbow will pretty much get me to do anything. Add in the fear of disappointing my bff, and consider the task done. Table 1.

    Take a few moments to list out potential rewards that motivate you. Maybe petting kittens at the pet shelter? A chapter in a trashy book? Perusing the Lego aisle at the toy store? Easy peasy. Now pick a small concrete task that needs doing on your hated project. Not the whole project, mind you… just one concrete goal. Just make sure you actually follow through with the reward. None of this “well, the work wasn’t really that good, so…” No. You did the concrete task, now go look at Legos. Repeat.

    Now let’s talk about punishment. First, let me say that punishment isn’t really that great a choice. It doesn’t help you become a more motivated worker in the long run, and should really only be used in dire circumstances. Also, we humans aren’t really good at doling out punishment to ourselves (back to the id). I can tell myself that if I don’t finish my task I’m not going to read my trashy book. But will I really follow through? Hell no. What do you think I was doing when I should have been doing the task? Here is a nice, easy, concrete way to dole out punishment in those dire circumstances (e.g., grad students who are about to run out of time to finish theses and dissertations):

    1. Go to the bank and get $20 in ones.
    2. Put $1 in an envelope with the address of a charity of your choice.
    3. For every day that you don’t complete your concrete goal, increase your donation (i.e., $1 on Monday plus $2 more on Tuesday, etc.). If you run out of one-dollar bills, go back for more.
    4. If you really want to get evil, make it a charity that you dislike such as a different political party.

    In closing, I want to emphasize that success on stalled-out projects really just comes back to setting small concrete goals. Hope these last few posts have helped kick-start your motivation. Just a warning…. Next week is going to be super mushy lovey dovey.

  • Julie T. Kinn 5:00 pm on October 11, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: bacon, , thesis, trauma   

    Dust Off That Old Paper/thesis/dissertation and Publish it Already 

    I recently blogged about different types of writing groups. Just wanted to share an example of a low-effort motivational group I started.

    Last year, a couple of my coworkers and I were discussing the dissertation experience. After years of hard work, none of us had actually tried to publish the tomes. Generally, folks collect scads of data in a quantitative dissertation in order to publish two or three papers during the first year of an academic position.

    We decided to each take a fresh look at the dissertations and determine whether we could publish parts of them. My coworkers are in the fortunate position of actually having found significant results. My dissertation wasn’t as momentous, but there’s still some good nuggets in there (see my previous post on publishing not-so-hot work).

    For the past year, we have been meeting on the first workday of each month for ten minutes. We have a specific agenda:

    1. Discuss progress on last month’s goals.
    2. Discuss current obstacles.
    3. Set individual goals for next month.

    Ten minutes is not a large time investment. This group provides social support while re-experiencing the trauma of our dissertation processes. Also, even though the original process for writing our dissertations was painful and lengthy, each of us have found the revision process much easier than expected.

    This writing group format allows for different working styles. One coworker I will call Dr. Super-Duper-Motivated. If her monthly goal is revise her introduction, we know she will likely also have restructured the discussion, moved some things around, found new supporting literature, and gestated a human being. The other coworker may read this blog, so I’ll just call him Dr. Really-Magnanimous. He has had a bit of difficulty finding the time to work on his dissertation-based paper, even though he wants to get it off his plate. His goal is often “Work on the paper for one hour.”

    Another feature of this group is that we can brainstorm motivational techniques. Dr. R-M once feared he wouldn’t have time to work on his paper for 30 minutes. I “helped” him by sending an email to his friends stating that if he *did* work for 30 minutes, I would bring in Twister Donuts Bacon Maple Bars for them. If he didn’t complete his goal, there would be no bacon doughnuts, and it would be all his fault.

    Twister Doughnuts Bacon Maple Bar

    Twister Doughnuts Bacon Maple Bar

    Bacon. Doughnuts.

    He completed the goal.

    You’re welcome.

  • Julie T. Kinn 4:49 pm on October 10, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: blogging,   

    Shameless Promotion of AfterDeployment.org 

    After Deployment

    After Deployment

    Hey folks!

    I’m the “Expert Blogger” this week at AfterDeployment.org. Check out my post on taking guilt-free breaks…. Especially those of you with procrastination issues. Yes, I’m talking to you!

    I’ll be back soon with a legit post 🙂


    • Marc 11:08 am on October 12, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      A nice tool I’ve come accross for making myself more productive while working, and less guilty while taking a break is the Pomodoro Technique (http://www.pomodorotechnique.com/). One sets up intervals of work that can’t/shouldn’t be interrupted. Hope it helps.

      • Julie T. Kinn 5:58 am on October 13, 2011 Permalink | Reply

        Hi Marc,

        Thanks for the interesting resource! Looks like it could also help monitor “Time Out” so I don’t accidentally leave the kids in the Skinner Box too long (Just a joke, folks. The Skinner Box is only for occasions with IRB approval).


  • Julie T. Kinn 4:11 am on September 9, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: academics, , , publishing   

    Publication Goals: How much to publish 

    I’m a big believer in setting specific goals to help accomplish objectives.  The literature is pretty consistent: setting measurable goals helps us finish what we start.

    There’s no set rule for appropriate publication goals for academics.  Most research universities expect tenure-track junior faculty to average about two or three peer-reviewed articles a year.  Of course, there’s lots of wiggle room.  First-authored pubs count more than others.  Top-tiered journals count more than the Journal of Some Guy’s Basement.

    I’ve set my goal as three peer-reviewed articles yearly.  Since I’m not working for a University, I’m fortunate to have a job that allows me to publish as much as I like.  In truth, I’m pretty happy to publish in the Journal of Some Other Guy’s Basement.  I just want to make sure that I do have a publication record in case I want to go into academia some day.

    What is your publication goal? How did you set it, and have you achieved what you sought?


    • Anonymous 3:29 pm on September 9, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      I don’t really have a publication goal… I just try to publish whatever I’ve been working on most recently. Maybe something to think about. Probably 1 or 2 a year would be good since I’m not at a research institution. Also, I have a heavy teaching load, so my supes cut me some slack.

    • Anonymous 11:48 am on September 9, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      I’m lucky if I publish anything at all!

    • Anonymous 10:07 am on September 10, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      I have been fortunate to publish along side some great researchers in the field of psychology. I do not have a PhD and still feel conflicted about going “all the way” but I do love the opportunity to create a paper–well, to be honest, I have a love/hate relationship with the process, but I am rooted in a deep curiosity and thirst for knowledge so, the article is a product of that journey. Do you have any tips for collaborating on papers? It seems that when the ideas are following, folks that come together to write an article are excited, however, the process in actually creating the paper is so different for everyone involved that it can make for difficult situations. What are your thoughts?

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