I’m sure you get “how do homework” posts pretty frequently, but I couldn’t quite find what I was looking for in the search, so I thought I’d make my own post.
I’m new here - only just found the YouTube channel this evening in a bout of task avoidance (by googling “task avoidance coping strategies”, like some ADHD ouroboros). And I need some help with a wall of awful for a research paper that’s gotten so high I can’t see the top.
I’m back to school after getting my bachelor’s 8 years ago, and have a big research project that was assigned last fall that should have been worked on continuously for the whole semester. One part is a paper & an annotated bibliography, and one part is a “development portfolio” where I have to log time spent/thought processes/notes etc
My professor kindly offered me an extension into the next semester when I came to her 36 hours before the annotated bibliography deadline having just picked a topic. I took it, because duh. This isn’t the type of paper you can really bang out in a night - it requires 20+ sources and is supposed to be pretty long.
Spent spring semester trying to gear up to doing it while working on another class, and then COVID hit. The library closed and one avenue of research (special collections books that aren’t digitized was closed) got cut off. I’d been back and forth with my prof once or twice with a “making progress!” sort of email (I wasn’t…not really, but I was intending to!) and when it came down to the wire and I hadn’t got anything to her, she was like “Hey COVID’s been awful do you need just a little more time?” I said yes, already completely burnt out on writing a shorter paper for my other class on the same day that my dog unexpectedly died. My intention was to take a day or two off and then get back in gear and finish everything up within a week or so.
Two days became two weeks became two months. It’s now down to the line, and our informal deadline of July 31st is looming next week. I’ve made very little (but some) progress. Even the idea of thinking about doing this thing turns my brain to TV static and I default to doomscrolling social media (I deleted it from my phone but that barrier stopped working) or similar or just crying about it. Even small bursts in which I’m able to finally look at the thing and do more research leave me super drained and unable to sustain it.
I work full time (from home, have since last year!) and I even took this past week off to see if that would help so I could devote more mental energy to just the paper, but no dice.
The advice of “break it down into its smallest components” hasn’t worked for me because there are then WAY TOO MANY small components!!! If it takes me hours to gear up to this one small portion, there’s no way I can get anything done in time, and then I freeze up.
The “reward yourself for small immediate milestones” advice doesn’t work either, because instead of saying I can have a cookie if I do the thing, I can just eat the cookie and not do it, it’s very easy, watch me.
This whole thing has led to a bananas, months-long self esteem nightmare spiral. The annoying part is that I actually do find the topic very interesting–one evening I took a library book that I’d already read the relevant chapter for my paper in and started reading the rest of it like a novel–but the idea of having to take notes, show my work, and synthesize a thesis about it kills me - the portfolio where I have to log my work especially, because then my professor can see how much I procrastinated and how little I actually did if I cut corners.
I have only recently started therapy (within the past month) and have not been formally diagnosed (because assessment is like $500), I have no tools in this box & can’t really look back on how I’ve been able to do a thing in the past, because I’ve always found research papers difficult, have never successfully completed anything of this scale and I barely managed to get through undergrad.
in short: h e l p.