Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Down time and productivity

I've taken quite a lot of time off over the year end holidays. This year, husband (who needs a pseudonym but I'm still working on that) and I decided to stay in PhD city for Christmas. It's the first year in a long time that Christmas wasn't linked to hours in a car/train/plane. And that meant that it was actually quite relaxing. We worked all the official working days and stayed home (or spent the day with friends) for the official holidays. I had planned to get a lot done both at home and in the lab, but it didn't really work out that way. To be honest though, I don't really mind. It was great de-compression time. With no pressure to achieve it was easier to take it easy, only work on things that really NEEDED to be done and pretty much ignore the rest.

Which brings me to my post today... starting tomorrow, things need to get back to normal. To do that, I'd really like to break out of this cycle of just getting the minimum done without letting everything fall apart, but never actually getting things to move forward... I think a big part of that is procrastination, especially in the form of the internet (it's one of my greatest weaknesses). And when the rest of my lab members return from their Christmas holidays as the week progresses, there will be a whole new set of distractions! Even though I KNOW I would feel "better" after doing something on my list, because the world won't end if I don't move my butt and do it, I'm having a hard time motivating myself to step away from the keyboard today and go put in a load of laundry, go through my closet to find donations to charity, pack up the Christmas decorations, or even start preparing something for dinner. So I think I'm going to institute some reward system... I might even have to resort to a timer. I'll reward "real" work with procrastination time, and hopefully try not to feel so guilty about it. If anyone is reading, do you have an motivational strategies for breaking out of a productivity slump? I'll try to post some accountability here and see how that goes.

Part of being accountable and thinking positive is to track my progress. So I'm please that I can report that yesterday I managed to devote the entire afternoon (5 straight hours) to cataloging reagents from my PhD project. There are still many hours to go, but it's a big chunk of what needed to be done finished, so yeah me! My goal is to start productivity working first thing tomorrow morning, before getting sucked into desk work. Maybe, just maybe, I'll get these reagents sorted out by the end of the week.

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