I am reading a book on procrastination and having a small epiphany. It is telling me what I am doing wrong, and how to stop doing it quite so wrong, and do it better instead. To those of you who complain about all the inner resistance to the PhD, and the inability to get started: READ IT. If you can’t buy it, borrow it from the library.
It is called
by Neil Fiore
Here is one thing it tells you to change, which I think, if you can do it, might just help: it says, change the things you typically tell yourself about your work (eg ‘I have to work’, ‘I should work’, ‘I can’t play’), which do nothing to motivate you to actually do it (seeing as they sound so crap and pointless) to nicer things which sound more fun (eg. ‘I choose to have a go at this, or else I choose not to do it, and I shall get over it and deal with the consequences.’)
Here goes. Stick this on your fridge. Every time you find yourself saying X, replace X ---------with Y.
i have to ------> I CHOOSE TO
i must finish---------> when can i start? [when is the next time i can start?]
this project is so big and important ----------------> I CAN TAKE ONE SMALL STEP
I must be perfect -----------------> I CAN BE PERFECTLY HUMAN (acceptance of your human limits. try to be imperfect; intentionally do the first bit of project sloppily. don't show to boss yet. do it fast and inadequately. Then, watch your motivation and natural desire for improvement take over.)
i don't have time to play --------------> I MUST MAKE TIME TO PLAY.
And so you go from telling yourself ‘I have to finish this big, important task, and it must be perfect, so I mustn’t waste my time doing anything else, nothing fun, absolutely ever’
‘I CHOOSE TO START ON ONE SMALL STEP, KNOWING I HAVE PLENTY OF TIME FOR PLAY.’
Of course (as one of the reviews of this book on Amazon says), the road to hell is paved with good intentions. It’s all very well to read this stuff, it’s not always easy to actually do it. But I am reading it and I am feeling better. Of course, I may just forget all about it by tomorrow and go right back to my pathetic little ways. But, who knows?... already I’m feeling less guilty and more HAPPY about all the (birthday) playtime I’m going to have this weekend…
ps 'reading a book on procrastination'; I'm sure there's a good joke in there somewhere.