Archive for the ‘Major Procrastination Disorder’ Category

Although it had not yet been recognized by psychiatrists (or graduate students), this article from Scatterplot indicates that Major Procrastination Disorder was present in 1751. I think it is time to add a “Nothing is New” category. Other entries: snark and technology, wasting time with media, and wireless reading devices.

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If you, like me, suffer from Major Procrastination Disorder, you will likely try anything to increase your productivity. Recent posts at Orgtheory and Slate aim to help with this goal. At Orgtheory, Katherine Chen talks about the challenges of handling both structured and unstructured time, focusing primarily on the use of deadlines (both external and self-imposed). Two of these suggestions, understanding prioritization and breaking large projects into small tasks, might be aided by the topic of Farhad Manjoo’s article at Slate. Manjoo reviews an app called WorkFlowy, which is essentially an electronic way to make lists. If your lists look anything like mine (and, apparently, Manjoo’s), you end up with a piece of paper covered with writing in all directions, some of which is crossed out, circled, or highlighted. Manjoo recognizes that most note-taking applications don’t deal well with this sort of approach, but argues that WorkFlowy is different:

[T]his app is the easiest, best-designed, and most-flexible note-taker I’ve ever come across, and it solves many of the problems I’ve had with other software. In the weeks I’ve been using it, this new program has become my go-to place for storing and keeping track of everything—not just to-dos and grocery lists, but my ideas for articles, all the notes I gather while reporting, all the tasks I need to do for those articles, and even all of the stuff I’m gathering for a book I’m working on.

Now if I could just motivate myself to try it… Maybe I need to set a deadline.

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Many academics likely see summer as a time to get to work on the things they really want to be doing during the academic year. Freed of students and committees, they turn to research, course prep, and reading Important Books. Each summer, I look forward to being able to focus on those things. Each summer I fail.

This failure makes me feel bad about how little I am actually accomplishing, which leads to lethargy, which leads to accomplishing even less. Although the title seems appropriate, my experience in the summer is, in fact, the exact opposite of the problem faced by the protagonist in “Summertime Blues,” who is forced to work so much that he misses out on summertime fun.

I miss out on summertime fun because of how much I don’t work.

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The semester has barely started and I already feel like I am treading water.  I have short essays to grade from each of my three classes, committee meetings, and meetings with students.  Beyond this and my recurring Major Procrastination Disorder, I’m also teaching my third entirely new course since starting my job.  In total, I’ve taught seven different courses since starting just over two years ago.  With so much emphasis on course prep (I’ve never had a semester when I didn’t have to prep a new course or substantially revise an old one), once assignments and exams start rolling in there isn’t much time for anything else.  Then, when there is a moment when I finish my teaching-related work I feel like I’m “done.”  This feeling is similar to the lack of motivation I felt as a student after completing a major paper.  In these moments I often think of the research projects I want to work on.  I think about them as I’m drifting off to sleep for a rare mid-afternoon nap.

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