I’d meant to write this post weeks ago but now summer is here and I am asking, ‘Where did all the time go?’
Procrastination. A big word for what is simply putting off until tomorrow what can – or should – be done today. In fact, the literal translation of the classical Latin root procrastinus is ‘that which belongs to tomorrow’.
While the concept is simple – delaying or even not doing something – the reasons for procrastinating are manifold, complex and personal. Although written for students, these 6 reasons for procrastinating are equally relevant to academics (including, perhaps, being “bored with course content”…?). Putting things off until tomorrow not only leaves you with an ever increasing workload, it can also turn into a continuing downward spiral driven by guilt, anxiety, and stress.
Perhaps not a cheerful topic with which to start off the summer – but inspirational in an unusual sort of way, I hope: If you already know that you have a tendency to procrastinate or recognise some of the characteristics of procrastination developing, you can give yourself plenty of time to implement effective time-management and coping strategies – before your to do list scrolls off your desk on to the floor and down the corridor (and, when it comes to procrastination it may help to know, you are not alone.).
Something I often here as a careers consultant is: “I’m waiting to think about my career when I’m closer to finishing.”
Please don’t do that. One – you’re in your career NOW, and have been since you said “I want to be a trapeze artist (or whatever) when I grow up.”
Two – managing your career isn’t about finding a job – that’s called…finding a job. Too often we see researchers at the handing in, viva stage, post viva stage who visit not knowing what they want, or having an idea, but no clue how to get there – but thinking that all they need is a quick CV ‘check’ or advice on a few websites and they’ll get a job in a few days or weeks.
To avoid delay. frustration and disappointment in setting out on your post-PhD career journey (wherever it takes you, and however many stops and deviations you make on the way) requires self-awareness, skilled decision-making, ability to incorporate other people into your career management, efficient job-hunting skills – all before starting to write CVs and covering letters. Developing can and does take time. These are things we at the Careers Service, including me (Darcey Gillie) and Rachael Roberts, can support you with. To get you started, here are some thoughts from the University of Warwick on career planning procrastination (aimed at undergraduates, but 100% applicable to researchers – at any stage of their lives).
Some general help and advice for dealing with procrastination: The Centre for Clinical Interventions (Western Australia) provides an intensive online course in overcoming procrastination generally. If you feel procrastination in general is starting to have a negative impact on your quality of life – you can seek help from a wide variety of people and organisations at the University of Sheffield, or you can visit Sheffield Online Support. Don’t ever be afraid to ask for help and for a referral to the support you need.