Wednesday, May 18, 2016


A very apt and interesting video has coincidentally appeared on Youtube that described many of the scenarios that has affected me as an individual, former graduate student, and academic. Those are the very same scenarios dealing with focus, motivation, stress, and depression that I had been trying to solve with the latest workflow framework that I had put in place (and it has been working pretty well over the last 4 days it has been in play!)

 I have some additional comments about the video though. While I think it is great they hinted that it is unhelpful to view all outward signs of procrastination as "laziness," I also feel that they hadn't covered enough of how unhelpful it is to inflict (self-inflicted or otherwise) the sense of guilt on individuals.

Personally the single most helpful thing for me was to recognize the symptoms, and to find a way to gently nudge myself and also to create a working environment that facilitates my ability and willingness to focus on a task. As I had indicated in the earlier post, I plan on elucidating some of my anecdotal observations of my experiences in a more technical post on another blog.

One of these recent experiences had to do with my preparations for potential job interviews. As part of these preparations, I had to revisit and review my past work. While these all involved work I had enjoyed doing, the circumstances around them and the fact that they reminded me of the paths that led me to my current state also involved painful or traumatic memories. I recognize these sources of pain, and in my workflow I had built ways of planning these painful tasks such that I am able to adjust their scheduling accordingly - making progress until it hurts too much, swapping out alternative tasks, or scheduling painful tasks in flexible non-critical time blocks.

To me understanding that these emotions are real, and cannot be swept under the rug is key. They have to be negotiated, along with the understanding that (as the video indicated) the stress of dealing with them does not go away with the procrastination. They have to be managed with a balance of tangible progress, and emotional self-care in mind. A good workflow goes a long way toward facilitating this - it allows for emotionally difficult tasks to be broken up into bite-sized chunks that aid morale and relieves stress each time a bite-sized chunk gets completed.

In addition to individuals suffering through these scenarios, I wished more bosses understood the nature of what their employees may be going through. The professional world would be a better place for it.

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