Positive Procrastination against COVID ennui
Maybe you stopped by because of my title: Positive Procrastination? Sounds challenging, right?
Everybody of us has experienced the powers of procrastination (I really like the Wikipedia entry on it), in all its ways, especially during academic work. But is it possible that there is some form of positive procrastination? I actually may have experienced some positive vibes after busy procrastinating over certain things on my to-do list.
So, first of all – I procrastinated on a written paper for a conference publication. Deadline was yesterday, the last day of February, 2021. Actually, I started with my planning for this paper in December. Topic: My dissertation results, nice and short. So, no big deal, right? Hell, I am so bored by this thing, I could not stand writing about it. Really. Must be some weird kind of post-submission-tiredness or something like that. You may have experienced this yourself after submitting a paper or a thesis, too. I can’t be the only one.
Thus, I began my procrastination journey. But, one good thing with mehr procrastinating – I do it while working on other things. I wrote another article, I helped a colleague with third-party-funding, I started my first post-doc-plannings (and yes, of course, I will tell you about this journey one day), I corrected papers and submissions from my university courses and I made a very rough plan for the next three to four months, including my hybrid or virtual conferences, some workshops, writing plans and so on.
And then I set myself a date – the last of January, 2021 – fake deadline, but hey, just for me. It came and went by. I have no idea, why. I did a lot of work. But I couldn’t get myself to work on a paper connected to my thesis. And then, I got a phonecall. Guess what – and this is BIG news – I will get published. My doctoral thesis will get published, I got a really good offer, in the publication series I wished for and dreamed of.
But now I had another problem – I could not write a paper about all my thesis results, because this would be like actually like a huge spoiler, right? I had to change focus – I phoned my supervisors. If you ever struggle in your early career phase – that’s what supervisors are for, because ideally they want you to publish your own stuff and they will make time to listen to your problems. Mine do and did. And they helped me out. So, I re-planned the whole thing, I could re-use main parts of writing I had already done (you know, short summaries of what all this is about, a short literature review, main introduction parts and so on). I even knew the result of my now close formed question and this kept me going for about – one day. actually for about two hours. I re-structured the document and… Well, I did a workshop on digital editions last week, I mainly read stuff about XML and so on, to be prepared. I did some QGIS-fun and I spent a weekend lying on my couch watching “Supernatual”. I never ever watched this show, and I have no idea how it ended, so, I really like it and it is like holidays for my brain.
The end of February arrived and I still had not finished my paper. I decided to look myself in my study this weekend and to work on it. Because after all, the deadline is near and it would be very unpolite to miss it, right? And I do not know why exactely, but I did it. I was focused and concentrated, I did proper breaks, I slept enough, I enjoyed the chill of being actually stressed. What is this, some kind of Covid-Ennui-Escape-trip? I felt alive. And suddenly there was fun in my writing. I discovered that my problem and my questions are a little bit more complex that I expected. So, I re-structured again and now I have a nice little paper scratching on the surface of a big research question which could lead to a lot of work. And actually, I will have to do that work while working on the publication of our Graz project on Celtic divine names (for those of you interested, our edition is online!)
So, procrastinating about this was not that bad at all. I needed the pressure and the feeling of stress. By writing this I feel insane, I have to admit it… This case of procrastination lead to a better understanding of my work and I discovered new challenges. I re-focused and I learned that letting go a topic or re-structuring it is not at all bad or frustrating.
The only negative parts were:
- I had no “free” weekend – but I have a free Monday instead, so… yeah, well.
- Maybe my paper is not perfect – but it is done.
- I actually did non blog yesterday, because I was busy finishing that paper – yeah, but a blogpost on procrastination being late because of procrastination…
The negative parts to not worry me. I proved myself that I can work focused and on time, even though I am stressed out and not motivated – this must be a sign of my endurance and my discipline, which are really important qualities too, because you will never ever be motivated all the time. This is an illusion. Even if you love your job, sometimes you just don’t want to get it done. But this is okay as well.
I am starting to believe that I teached myself an important lesson without even realising it. I need a firm plan and some stress – positive stress – for my working attitude. The feeling that I am on to something really amazing. Well, just amazing for me, probably, but hey, I want it, so I do it.
Have a good week and an excellent Monday, my fierce fighters of academia. Stay safe and keep moving!
Yours, Astrid 😉