Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Catch-22

I have a flaw in my work process. I am usually very good at staying on top of tasks, pressing forward on to-do lists, and generally don't procrastinate.

The problem is that there is a point - and goodness knows I wish I could pin down exactly when this point occurs - where I have TOO MUCH to do. And then I can't make myself do any of it. Even if I break it down into a To-Do list, I still feel overwhelmed and I don't know where to start.

This is a problem, because the times at which you have too many things to do are also the times when you most need to be doing them.

This last happened to me while I was trying to write my thesis, and also not drop the ball for classes and research. Now granted, I am not nearly as stressed this week as I was then (whew!). But I am a bit overloaded, because the other two students who are working on a project with me are both on vacation - so I've been doing extra duty. And of course, the project is behind schedule, as most collaborative projects end up being.

So it's a Catch-22. I don't feel motivated because I have too much on my plate, but I can't start clearing off my plate without at least a little bit of motivation...

My saving grace is that I make up for these periods of low productivity with a super-efficient week afterwards where I apply myself to work. When I truly do focus and use my brain for what it's worth, I can get an astonishing amount accomplished.

But I'd like to improve this Catch-22 flaw in my work process. I need to not simply give up when I have too much to do, because professors (or a boss) need to know I can be depended on to get things done, especially in a crunch.

I think I'm at least on the right track by recognizing I need to improve this, and understanding that it's just sort of how I handle things. I am hereby committing myself to getting task #1 (happens to be placing a DigiKey order) off my list this afternoon.

After, you know, I take a long lunch. :)

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