It's been a lazy past few days.  Sure, we've done a lot of activities, but in terms of actual work done, zip, zero, nada.  On Friday I couldn't be convinced to work.  I tried, boy, did I try.  Unfortunately, I can get into a cycle where I want to take some time off, and then some more time off, and then how about I just go for one more  bike ride, and oh, let me take the dogs out, and wait a second, I guess I should do the dishes, oh and look, there's some bills that need to be paid, and while I'm at it I should probably run to the Post Office, and you know what, I'd better go ahead and go to the grocery store, it's already 1 p.m., how about lunch?, and thank you very much now what movies are playing at the theatre, gee, I should play with the dogs right now, wait, let me get my camera, dinner time!, well now it's 7 p.m. and what do you want to do?

My days can go like that sometimes, without me even really putting up much of a fight.  In order to stay on a reasonable schedule for my specialization paper (leading up to the dissertation), I have to force myself to work for several hours a day.  And I know, those of you who have non-academic jobs are thinking, "ONLY SEVERAL HOURS A DAY, WHAT ARE YOU, CRAZY?" and my answer is absolutely. 

You see, academia runs on a completely different time schedule than most, if not all, jobs.  There is a reason a lot of students get trapped into the "I was supposed to propose my thesis six months ago, so, it can wait another day, week, month," and then soon it becomes they are a year behind.  Or four.  Especially if their faculty supervisors are more than lax with them.  Luckily I'm driven to complete projects, AND I have an appropriately demanding mentor, so I can get by with goofing off for about 3-4 days before I feel incredibly guilty.  Like I do today.  And I plan to alleviate this guilt by working on what I need to be working on as soon as I hit "publish" on this post.  And when I say, "I work for several hours a day," what I'm really saying is - I devote several hours a day to this big project.  I've lots of other projects going on too that I devote time to, but this is the big one.  So though my daily academic routine may seem a little lax sometimes - especially when I've put off the writing portion of it all - I start to nag at myself because I know I should be writing and not just prepping a new class and doing other things. 

I'm certain that why people become discouraged about progress is that it takes so darn long to complete anything worth doing in academia.  Thesis?  Miniumum of six months, and that's if you are lucky.  Dissertation?  At least a year of writing.  Easily.  That's not even conducting experiments - that's just writing.  The revision process is so brutal and headache-inducing, it is like writing your life's greatest work with the knowledge that maybe, maybe ten people will read the thing cover to cover.  How discouraging is that?  Knowing that unless you publish portions of the darn thing (hello, three more months of work!), your entire enormous bound dissertation that you poured hours and hours and sweat and blood and tears into will be resigned to sit on a library shelf, growing dusty with age.  Yeah, that's a big spoonful of motivation right there! 
 


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