On “procrastination”

I have studied my procrastination habits and seen three things:

a) as we know, if one does not take “down time” deliberately, one ends up taking it anyway by fiddling around, such that resting up takes longer.

b) I do not procrastinate research, but I do end up doing procrastination activities on days when I decide I have so many other duties that I cannot allow myself the luxury of research.

c) I procrastinate horribly on almost all activities related to basic foreign language teaching, and it is there where all the motivational tricks and ways to get writing done the professors recommend, really apply.

So: recreation and research take NO time; I might as well do them because if not I will waste the time I wanted to put into them, and not put it where I thought I should (basic language teaching, house painting, sewing, all the things I do not like).

Therefore: what I really need is not a writing plan but a plan for managing basic language teaching.

Coda: the reason I dislike that last is that learning languages is my favorite form of recreation, and I am not interested sullying a private affair by sharing it for money or for all who register.


6 thoughts on “On “procrastination”

  1. Yes! I have had the same thoughts. I like the planning parts of teaching prep, but I dislike grading and that is where I really need a plan. It is true that for research I need some degree of support and encouragement, hence the writing groups, but the underlying issue there is that I enjoy the research and so I sometimes feel guilty about doing it instead of focusing on teaching; a few reminders that research, too, is my job and that it is worth doing well go a long way. I have wondered about starting a group for grading!

    1. I am like this. A group for grading could really work and it is a hilarious idea. But, I like the writing group. I would volunteer to run the grading group if I did not want to further label myself to myself as a machine in a grading factory and overwhelmed lower division person!

  2. BTW, sorry about all the comments today but I didn’t keep up over the weekend, & I try not to blog from work, so when I saw these great posts yesterday at work I thought I must remember to come back and comment from home.

  3. I love the comments! And I am glad they seem like great posts, I was feeling odd about using the blog for therapy so baldly, and speaking so openly about what really goes on in my main department.

    On procrastination, I now see when it is that I do it: I do it when I have conflicting orders and threats. “Do X, or I will kill you,” from one side, and “Do Y, or I will kill myself,” from another; “Do Z or the sky will fall,” from a third. It is too much like my childhood and I just freeze as I did then. But in those days I knew that if I just waited and did not make waves, I would grow up and go to college. I need a different reaction now.

    It is odd, these conflicting orders and threats are fine and I handle them fine if the people they come from seem whole and strong. But if they come from people in weaker positions, instructors, assistant professors, and so on, or people with weak PhDs, I feel terribly guilty and worried and also scared of what they might do (I do not trust them to stay rational). I have to stop fearing the weak — I know why I do it at a sort of psychoanalytic type level but I don’t even agree with the fear politically (it is actually quite condescending), let alone for practical purposes.


    Hm. More on me. I am not direct enough because I am always-already trying to compromise, always-already know I have too much knowledge and power and need to rein it in. I think I have to be direct in all circumstances, no matter what. I become slightly dissociative when I have to say something they disagree with to someone who is weaker than I, I am so afraid of what they may do to themselves or to me, and this is an old problem I am trying to solve.

    It is all the violence among the instructors and the directors with weak degrees that I want to get away from — it is not just boring and chaotic, it also is precisely what is hard for me, because I fear the violence of the weak and I do not realize I am intimidating, or really understand why.

    1. OWN YOUR POWER. It is an advantage to be perceived as intimidating! I get the “intimidating” comment a lot (as does one of my best friends at work), usually from female grad students. We used to worry over it, analyze it, etc., and finally just gave up and re-framed it as the perceivers’ problem, quite likely having something to do with not believing that women are allowed to have a backbone. But it is not a question of “allowed,” we are who we are and to be less than that is to be false to ourselves, our minds, and our missions. We used to try to understand these “intimidated” women and help them to claim their own power, but it became clear that that was a time suck that would not help anyone because, as Eleanor Roosevelt put it, “No one can intimidate you without your consent,” and until they stopped consenting, we could do nothing for them, except (perhaps, if they can see it) be examples of what is possible.

      But I am uppity and you are in the Resistance, so of course you have to do what you must to protect yourself and your mission. Still: your messages are getting to the outside world. We will send what assistance we can via parachute drops and secret couriers.

  4. Ah, yes, but I have gotten in real trouble for seeming intimidating, I live down South. Still, one is clearer if one owns one’s own power and life is much easier.

    I laughed out loud over your last paragraph because I really did have such a conversation with someone here by phone yesterday. “We will come in by different doors and not leave together, nor be seen talking! We did not have this conversation! I have told two people X truth because I knew it would throw them off the scent of Y!”

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