Thursday, August 24

I was very excited to get an invitation to join academic secret, but I've been feeling twinges of impostor syndrome when trying to think about what to post. I'm not a real academic (any moment now someone will realize they made a mistake letting me into grad school) and I'm certainly not cool enough to be part of a secret cabal. After rereading the archives, however, I'm feeling more confident because I'm pretty sure that I can beat all y'all at something, even if I have to bring up an old argument to do it.

Salmon Ella first claimed to be the “resident slacker of academicsecret” back in July, but didn't seem eager to fight for the title when thistle challenged her*. I'm ready to take you on, though, thistle! Thistle's pretense to the title: “There are many weeks when I only manage to work 20-30 hours at being a graduate student, and I don't even have a baby.”

Ha! I laugh at your “20-30 hours”! A day when I do 2 hours of vaguely work-related activities is a day of astounding productivity for me. Usually, it takes all my motivation to do the bare minimum required to keep my model organisms alive.

Let me share a typical day with you:

8-9am – alarm goes off, hit snooze (repeat)

9am - read email/blogs
10.30am - realize my dreams of one day getting to work before 11am are about to be shattered, yet again
11.30am – start getting ready to leave
12pm - arrive at work, read more blogs (or at least hit refresh until something new shows up in my feed reader) until everyone else leaves the lab
6pm - realize that my organisms are going to die if I don't feed them
7pm – finally drag myself away from the computer to feed my organisms
7.15pm – go home

Anyone think they can top that for slackerness? Bring it on!

Pre-post update: Sadly, since I wrote the first part of my post, my advisor managed to kill my sense of achievement. She came by to ask for an update on my progress and after I mumbled my excuses about shipping delays (read: forgetting to place the order) and lack of facility access (read: not getting around to returning the signed forms), she started talking about all the exciting new ideas she has for my project. She seems to be feeling bad that my project is having problems (it does have some that aren't entirely self-induced) and is sure that once I get some results I'll be moving ahead much faster! I couldn't bring myself to confess the real reason for my lack of progress. She'll just have to learn the slow way that I can bring errors and delays to the best of projects...

Why does she have to be so nice and supportive and make me feel guilty? And why can I not just do some work??

*Turquoise Stuff also mentioned the title fight, but I'm not sure he(?) is a serious contender. I mean, he has a list!


Orange Ina said...

Welcome, Dandelion!

Not to kick you out of the club as you just got here, but so do you think academia is the right place for you? Are you staying around because you can read blogs 7 hrs/day on the job? Is it just that particular project that's not doing it for you? Why is it worth staying?

Alternatively, perhaps you're the amazingly productive type who can do in 15 minutes what takes others 5 hours so it doesn't matter how much time you spend on the work, because you're so efficient that you still get plenty done.

Clear said...

Welcome, Dandelion! A rousing first post, even if it does leave our friendly bottle of orange-y goodness wondering whether you are enjoying the academic life.

Dandelion said...

Thanks for the welcome, Clear and Orange ina.

I have thought about whether I should just give up on academia. It's not that I don't like it, though. I think my project is very cool and when I do some work on it and get some results, I do get excited about it. I just can't make myself do any work very often. I don't know what's wrong with me. I haven't always been this unproductive.
I keep trying to turn over a new leaf and start working harder, but as soon as I think about everything I'm behind on (or even if I try to just focus on one thing), I get too overwhelmed and want to cry.

Turquoise Stuff said...

as soon as I think about everything I'm behind on (or even if I try to just focus on one thing), I get too overwhelmed and want to cry.

AHA! So we're back to the faking-your-own-death theme and other assorted approaches to the "being overwhelmed" situation.

I have yet to figure out a solution to this myself. It is when your task list is so long that even the thought of working on any part of it makes you too anxious to get any work done. It's bad. *sniff*

PS. Great pic!

Salmon Ella said...

Why can't I take part in the challenge?

fraud, in denim said...

Seems to me that we have some poster children for people who could benefit from cognitive-behavioral therapy. Seriously, though, there are things that can be done to overcome these thoughts and the accompanying anxiety.

Welcome, Dandelion. :)

Dandelion said...

Salmon Ella, you're welcome to take part, if you think you can beat me :) I didn't take you as seriously because you said you were just kidding when thistle challenged you; sorry!

Turquoise, I'm not quite ready to fake my own death, because I haven't quite given up hope that I'll figure out a way to become more productive. Let me know if you find a solution!

Fraud, do you know of any good cognitive-behavioral resources for procrastination?

fraud, in denim said...

Part II of David Burns' book The Feeling Good Handbook has a little on procrastination. I did find this page, although it's not the greatest.

I used to have an absolutely debilitating fear of failure. It started in the 4th grade. I just wouldn't do something (usually homework or assignments) so that I would fail because I didn't do it rather than failing because I hadn't done it well. When I got to graduate school something had to be done, so I started seeing a CBT-focused therapist. Clearly with a name like Fraud I still have issues, but I got through that fear of failure, nearly conquered some serious compulsive behavior, and reduced my depression/anxiety (enough to get off anti-anxiety medication). I highly recommend it.

thistle said...

I've been meaning to respond to this post for days now (approx. 7 days, in fact). But I just kept putting it off.

Now that I'm no longer in classes, the 20-30 hours of grad-studenty-work thing is totally out the window. I just had to do my time sheet for my two part-time research gigs for the last two weeks. Total billable hours for 2 weeks? 11. I'm not even sure I could keep organisms alive on that.

thistle said...

Oh, and welcome Dandelion!

Dandelion said...

Thanks for the references, Fraud. Your story is inspiring :)

Thistle, I see I might have some competition after all. I was going to try to do some more work, given that I have a lot of scary deadlines approaching, but now I'm worried about losing my slacker standing.

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