March 1, 2011

Checking my work

I have noticed that the type of work I hate most is boring work that requires my complete concentration. Boring, mindless work is fine because I can watch Grey's Anatomy or daydream at the same time. Interesting work that requires my complete concentration is also fine, because my brain is happy to be occupied with the task.

But I loathe boring tasks that require concentration. Grading is an example of this type of work. It's not interesting to read 60 essay exams, but I can't space out while I do it. I have to think hard about all 60 exams, decide how many points to give each answer, think of helpful comments, and think of an appropriate grade while my brain desperately wants to think about something, anything else. That's why grading feels so painful and grueling to me. I'm bored and miserable, so I'm maintaining my focus through sheer willpower, and it's exhausting.

Thankfully, I'm on fellowship this year, so I don't have to grade until September. But another task that my brain strongly resists is checking my work. Proofreading a paper, double checking my data entry, reading my code for errors... all of these tasks are boring tasks that require concentration. So even though I know that checking my work is important, when it's time to actually do it, my brain is whining "nooooooo this sucks don't make meeeeeee." But when you're actively resisting your strong desire to do something more interesting, it's easier to skip over errors and make new mistakes. So I often end up checking my work two or three times, because I'm worried that I was too distracted the first time.

Anyway, I'm supposed to be checking my work right now but took a break to write this blog post... I suppose I should stop procrastinating and get it done.


  • What about having some background music that you enjoy when you're proof reading/checking your data entry...etc so the experience is more enjoyable? This way you can enjoy the music and make a task that you find boring not so awful. Just a thought.

    By Blogger anthea, at 3/3/11, 12:49 PM  

  • Thanks for the suggestion. Music definitely helps. I like to put on a trance internet radio station, since there are no words but it's energizing.

    By Blogger Di Di, at 3/4/11, 12:42 AM  

  • I'm totally with you on this one! It's awful.

    By Blogger Shedding Khawatir, at 3/4/11, 6:03 PM  

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