Thursday, December 30, 2004

Procrastination

I just read something on Dr. Rachna D. Jain's website about procrastination that's not new information, but is still great to remember:

"Why do people procrastinate?

Procrastination is another way to describe avoidance- but it's more subtle. Rather than actually admitting that you're avoiding your work, you might try to seem very busy- but in work that's unrelated to your dissertation. Most of the time, procrastination can be understand as a means to cope with fear- and the fear can be that the work will be too difficult, too unpleasant, or too unproductive.If you find yourself procrastinating when you should be working, try asking yourself, 'What am I afraid of?'"


She also has this advice, which I'm going to try out as soon as I'm done blogging:

"Working when you don't feel like it...

At some point during your dissertation process, you will run into resistance: feeling that you should work, but that you just can't get yourself to sit down and do it.
Sometimes, this is a sign that you need a break- and if you haven't taken one recently, go ahead and give yourself one now. Resistance usually shows up when you've pushed yourself really hard to meet a goal, but then haven't given yourself enough time to rest/recuperate before moving on to the next thing. You are not a machine that can just produce endlessly without refueling. If you've just met a major milestone, and are feeling resistance, take a day or two off- and you'll likely feel better and ready to work after that.
If you find, though, that you haven't made much progress, but are still feeling resistant to working, this may be a sign of procrastination. In this case, work for one minute and then stop. Check in with yourself. Can you do another minute? If so, do that, and then check in with yourself again. Can you do another minute? If so, do that, and so forth. If you keeping checking with yourself along the way, you will be decreasing your resistance to working- and still, will be getting a bit of work done where you weren't before.
If you can't tell the difference for yourself, consider always trying to work for 1 minute, and then giving yourself permission to keep going, or permission to stop, based on how you feel. Usually, if you're procrastinating and take one minute to get started, you can keep going.
If you honestly try the 1 minute technique but can't keep going, then don't. You need the break."


Finally, she says to remember that your dissertation is not your life's masterpiece, that you'll write much better things during your career (a much more elegant version of my friend's Words of Wisdom). My problem is that I don't ever, ever, ever want to have to write anything like a paper or article or chapter again in my life. I've hated it for years!!! And I really don't want a career in academia. Not that I don't like teaching, and I would certainly teach under the right circumstances.

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