Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Doing just enough to get by

I am really disgusted with my lack of work ethic lately.

The best way to characterize the way I'm operating is "doing just enough to get by" (hence, the title of this post). It seems like I only have energy and time to do what's minimally necessary to not get fired from my job. Ok, that's a bit of an exaggeration---what I mean is that I am just doing what's absolutely necessary at this point for me to get by in the classroom without sucking, doing whatever admin stuff is absolutely necessary, and chucking the rest out the window. (On the flip side, I'm getting enough sleep for the first time in my life. That feels good.)

Unfortunately, this includes my research. And that's what really bothers me.

I have never struggled to get research done before. Research is something I strongly believe in, love to do, and more importantly have always made time (and set aside energy) to do. I started off the year ok, and having a paper deadline helped a bit. But ever since that paper was submitted, I've done nothing. Diddly squat. Not even so much as crack my research notebook open.

Could it be burnout? Maybe, but I've had tough deadlines before, met them, and carried on. Could it be the conference last week disrupting my schedule? Maybe, but I'd hate to use that as an excuse. Could it be that subconsciously, I'm thinking it doesn't matter because I'm on leave the rest of the school year? That could be part of it. Regardless of the reason, I need to and want to get back into the research habit.

I've struggled this entire school year with my workload balance in general, so much so that I even made myself a schedule for every day, with research (and exercise, and class prep) time scheduled in every day. But what I find myself doing is totally blowing off my schedule. I find other things that "need" to be done during my class prep time, or my research time, and do those instead of what I should be doing.

My goal for the rest of the week is to figure out what's blocking me right now, why time management seems to elude me, and what specific steps I can take to solve the problem. (Maybe I need to dig up my copy of The Now Habit and re-read it; that's helped me before.) And, of course, to go back to my schedule, take one of those hours set aside for research, and just do it.


luolin said...

I'm glad it's not just me.
I also have a copy of the Now Habit on a shelf somewhere. The problem is, I know what's in it, so I don't think re-reading will help that much.

Random Questioner said...

Have you considered talking to your doctor/ a therapist about this? It sounds like you may be suffering from depression.

Lakshmi a.k.a. Lotus Eyes said...

I just came upon your blog from a link on misbehaving.net.
I am/was a computer programmer by profession and your blog is very inspiring to me.
About your former post on bias, one of my colleagues in one of my former workplaces openly said that women were not intelligent. And recently, there has been a survey that women scored slightly lower than their male counterparts in the SAT in a particular sample and there is a raging debate about which gender is smarter. I have argued against such opinions. It is sad that people are not judged as individuals even in this day and age.
Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

I've gone through the same thing many times before. The advice most people offer is "take a break." I don't think that's helpful --- every time I come back from vacation, I have less motivation than before.

I suggest you take the time to think about what motivates you to do research in the first place. Maybe do a bit of slightly-off-topic reading to get you inspired again.

For me, the biggest thrill of research is the challenge it offers. If my research doesn't challenge me, I lose interest very quickly.

Laura said...

I'm in a bit of a slump myself. I had all these big plans this week and I haven't done any of them.

Clyde said...

Seems to me you're being pretty hard on yourself. I found myself thinking the same thing a few weeks back when you were struggling with motivation for teaching. In my projections of what life as Jane must be like this seems like a normal reaction to the on-going stress of working in a hostile environment. So I think getting plenty of sleep, plenty of support, and blaming the hostile environment more than yourself for your lack of motivation are part of the (while not the entire) solution. Then there's all the other pro-active efforts you're considering. Good luck!

Jane said...

luolin, good point. I know what I should be doing, but that doesn't mean I'm doing it, and it's doubtful a book I've read already will help. :)

RQ, that thought has crossed my mind, too. I'm thinking about it.

Lakshmi, thanks for reading! I'm glad you've found some interesting things on this blog.

Anon, that's a good idea (about reading outside your area, at least a bit). Maybe I'll try that. (Although I actually sat down and did some research Wed and Thurs, and it did help my mood quite a bit.)

Laura, hope you get some motivation to get some of those projects done!

Clyde, thanks for the kind words. You're right, and it's been an especially rough week, so in that respect checking out a bit is not necessarily a bad thing.

Anonymous said...

Consider too how what sort of foods you are eating. Also, what about just taking a mini-vacation from Friday afternoon to Sunday morning and go pamper yourself with, ah, I don't know...whatever women computer scientists do to pamper themselves. Get a pedicure and a massage while looking at strings of code on your laptop or something. Drink more water too. Are you drinking enough water or are you drinking too much coffee instead? Basic stuff first.

Anonymous said...

Hello Prof Jane,

I hope everything is going alright and your lack of posting is because of rearrangement of priorties. If not, I am sure that you have the mental fortitude (sp?) to push through.

As always take care,