I’m Martin Sellbom, Associate Professor of Psychology, and This is How I Work


I am an Associate Professor of Clinical Psychology in the Department of Psychology at the University of Otago, which is located in Dunedin, New Zealand. I am also an Associate Editor for the journals Psychological Assessment and Journal of Personality Disorders. In addition, I also operate a small consulting practice, which offers forensic psychological evaluations, psychometric and statistical consultation, and workshops in personality assessment and statistics.

Location: Dunedin, New Zealand

Current Gig: Associate Professor; Clinical and Forensic Psychologist

One word/phrase that describes your work style: High energy, collaborative, but somewhat chaotic

Current computer/mobile device: iMac, MacBook Air, iPhone.  I only very recently acquired an iPad.

What apps/tools/software can you not live without?

Hmm, I don’t care too much about apps or software, but I suppose it would be really difficult for me to work nowadays without MS Office, SPSS, STATA, Mplus, and Dropbox.  Oh, and my Air New Zealand app. Its really great given how much I travel.

What’s your best time-saving shortcut or life hack? I try to be very efficient in my work, be smart about delegating to research assistants (RAs), etc., and have learned to say “no.” I cannot emphasize strongly enough what the latter has done to both my well-being and productivity.

What’s your workspace set up like?

I tend to prefer L-shaped desk, 28” iMac, and a comfortable office chair.  (My current one is not very comfortable, so I am upgrading to a nice executive leather chair).




How do you keep track of things you need to do (any to-do-list apps)?

I use the Mac OS Calendar and Reminders apps.  I think they are great.  Based on recommendations in this blog, I have also tried Wunderlist; I like it and its great for sharing task assignments, but for personal use, Reminders works just as well.

Besides your phone or computer, what gadget can’t you live without, and why?

I am not really a very tech-oriented person, but I suppose given the amount of TV that I watch, it would be hard to live without it (60” Panasonic, UHD/4K, Smart TV).  Instead, like someone else recently suggested in this blog, I tend to spend most of my spare money on other things, like single malt scotch (Macallan, Glenmorangie, and Bruichladdich are some favorite distilleries) and traveling.

What everyday thing can you do better than most people? What’s your secret? I am good at networking and starting collaborations with others.  I love collaborating as it makes work much more fun but also increases productivity substantially.

What do you listen to while you work?  Most of the time I do not listen to music when I work, but on the occasions that I do (especially when completing mindless tasks), its typically heavy metal (e.g., Iron Maiden, Helloween, Judas Priest, Metallica) or hard rock (e.g., AC/DC, Bon Jovi, Meat Loaf, Queen).

What are you currently reading? The Battered Woman Syndrome by Lenore Walker. Sadly, this is entirely for professional purposes as I am preparing a brief of evidence report on intimate partner violence to the court. I usually listen to audio books (while I drive) rather than reading. I like stuff that is easy to digest, such as James Patterson or Dean Koontz. I am currently listening to Cross Country by James Patterson.

How do you recharge?  I lift weights almost every morning. Sometimes I run, but I hate it.   I binge-watch TV shows, which I find very relaxing. I also watch sports (College Football [Roll Tide!], MMA) on Sundays (which is Saturday afternoon/evening in North America). I also try to go on beach vacations every now and then.  Queensland, Australia is amazing!!

How do you balance your work life and your home/family life? I could certainly improve in this domain, but I try to set boundaries for myself.  It is rare nowadays that I work in the evenings (beyond responding to occasional emails on my phone).  I typically arrive at work around 7.30-8.00 am and leave around 5.30-6.30 pm; on average, I am in the office 10 hours per day.  I often have to do a few hours of work on the weekend, especially if I have something urgent due (e.g., a court report), but I am trying hard to cut down on this need. (Before I moved to this side of the world, it was not uncommon for me to work 65-70 hours per week. Lower teaching load [1.5 courses per year] and a commitment to change have worked well.

What’s your sleep routine like? It could definitely also improve.  I try to go to bed around 10.30-11.00 pm and get up at 5.30-6.00 am, which amounts to about 7 hours per night. On the weekends, especially Saturdays, I sleep in, and will often get 9-10 hours of sleep, which creates some problems with my sleep cycle.  A dysfunctional habit that’s hard to break.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? My dad told me that it is rare you earn good things in life without hard work.  This has stuck with me.


Martin Sellbom


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