Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Learning Balance

This may come as no surprise to anyone, but I'm not very good at maintaining a steady workload. Instead, I have these bursts of energy, and these lulls of inactivity. I try to make myself work, and I procrastinate, and then I finally get some work done, build up momentum, work too hard, wear myself out, and then have trouble getting to work. Rinse and repeat.

Of course, now that the exams are looming, it's a little easier to force myself to work. It's not like I have to work hard to motivate myself. In fact, sometimes I'll be trying to fall asleep and there's a part of my brain that's trying to convince me that I'm not really that sleepy, and in fact there's so much work to do that maybe I should just get up and work a little more.

I've been in a bit of a fog for the past few days. I've been constantly staring at words, constantly staring at my computer screen. But not getting effective work done. And then it occurred to me that I was not actually working well. I wasn't letting myself move around, or leave the house. And so I was getting frustrated at how I could hardly focus on words and wondering why I had a headache.

And so I tried to fix things today. Even though I dawdled a bit in the morning, I made sure that I got started properly: showered, got dressed and ate breakfast first, so that I didn't suddenly find myself in my pyjamas and starving in the middle of the afternoon. I started off reading on the exercise ball, because it helps me concentrate and because I needed to stretch a bit. I used the SAD lamp for a little longer than usual to see if that would help get rid of the mental fog. I ate lots of fruits and vegetables. When Chris came home, we went for a walk. I had a bit of caffeine today, but not too much. I worked in the evening (mostly because of the dawdling in the morning), but did so while Chris was working. And with a movie playing in the background.

So, now? It's midnight and my head is clearer than it's been in days. But I also think I'll be able to sleep. I got effective work done, but it didn't kill me, because I also walked, changed my position a lot, ate properly, and even played the piano. And now there's this little part of my brain that feels like, since the momentum is going, I could keep on working, but I'm going to switch that off now. I'm going to bed so that I can work again tomorrow.

(When I get writing my dissertation, can someone remind me about all these things again? Because I swear that I'm re-inventing the wheel on a daily basis here.)


Inside the Philosophy Factory said...

Those same things work for me, in terms of getting work done. Since it looks like we'll be writing together, we'll have to remind one another...

Kate said...

Sounds like you have a handle on things. The period before the comps is never easy, and it's quite impossible to make yourself feel completely comfortable and like everything is working perfectly. This is a period in your career where showering regularly and eating fresh food is a minor victory.

Hang in there! How are your comps structured -- one or two days, major and minor, written or written/oral?

Queen of West Procrastination said...

Aw, it's nice having people around me who know exactly what I'm going through.

Kate: my written exams will be spread over three days (Tuesday, Thursday, Monday), all three hours long. (I have one major field and two minor fields.) Then, a week later, I have an oral exam with all four of my professors (I have two professors working on my major field, because it covers the nineteenth and twentieth century and none of our professors specialize in both).

Life of Turner said...

Although I do not understand your academic plight, you know that I know what you're going through in terms of the need to clear head space. I went to a movie tonight; I could not "afford to" with all the work I had, but I could not afford not to for my well-being. I guess there really is no country for old men, or PhD students, or first-year teachers.

P.S. "xmafuzgm". Best. Word Verification. Ever.