Seasonal Procrastination

Seasonal Procrastination

Sunshine, I’ve concluded, is not conducive to getting work done.

It really makes me question why exams are held in the summer, because it’s the absolute worst time of year for getting anything done. I mean, sure, it’s still cold outside at the moment — it’s April in England, we’re lucky to have sunshine at all. But I woke up this morning, saw the bright blue sky (a far cry from yesterday’s foreboding, overcast day), and knew that I wasn’t going to be getting on with work any time soon.

I guess the problem is not the sunlight — it’s the feeling that somehow you need to make the most of it. Because it’s guaranteed not to last. Waking up to blue skies doesn’t mean it won’t pour with rain all afternoon, and even if you get a day of weather, it might be business as usual tomorrow. So the moment a few hours of sunshine turn up, there’s a feeling of pressure to act on it. To make the most of the daylight. To get outside and try and get some vitamin D. Unlike a rainy day, when staying inside and working sounds like a preferable option to braving the weather, sunshine lures me out.

So far today, the bright sunshine has helped me get a few things done. I went for a walk and played Pokemon in actual daylight rather than in the middle of the night like I usually do. I handed in a form that was due in October and which I uncovered while spring cleaning last week. (They were not hugely impressed, but hey, better late than never, right?) I took photos of flowers in the Newnham gardens. I phoned the physio helpline, filled in the forms they asked me to fill in, and posted them. I got accepted on the Blas Irish dance summer school, so I booked accommodation and flights to Limerick in July. I booked a studio for CUIDS classes for the first four weeks of term. I printed out documents I need for a job application tomorrow.

In other words: I did useful stuff. Admin stuff. Life stuff.

Okay, so I forgot to eat lunch and had to eat toast at 3pm to make up for it. (Sunlight always makes me fail at meals — maybe I’m photosynthesising? )And there are still a whole bunch of admin tasks I haven’t done, like filling in graduation-related forms, taking my bins out, and unearthing my desk again. It’s been a week since I tided and cleaned it, and already it’s disappeared under mounds of papers.

But I did things!

I just didn’t do any work, and I’m entirely unmotivated to start. Which is not great when my exams are less than two months away (I finish on the 7th June) and my dissertation deadline is, um, 20 days away, almost to the minute.

I’ve been doing okay with productivity the last few days, managing nearly four hours of work each day. When I say it out loud, that doesn’t sound like much, because I’m used to hearing people talk about how they did eight hours of revision or whatever. Apparently there’s an educational specialist claiming students should do seven hours of revision for GCSEs a day during the Easter holidays, which is patently ridiculous and unnecessary. Four hours, then, doesn’t sound like a lot.

It’s what I can do comfortably, though. It’s what I manage when I get started relatively early in the day but still give myself time to procrastinate, to do dance, to make meals. It’s only possible when half of it is reading, because my hands would never let me type for anywhere near that long, and I have to admit that yesterday, the vast majority of what I read wasn’t directly relevant to my dissertation — part of me even wondered if it counted as work.

I know what I’m capable of doing, and I know when I’ve had a good day by my standards — which are the only standards that matter. It doesn’t matter if it wasn’t as much as other people, because I’m not other people. I tell myself this repeatedly, and it’s why I started the #studyspoonie tag.

You see, on the one hand, it’s really hard not to believe generalisations about how many hours I should be working, even though time isn’t really the best way of measuring things because what I can do in two hours might be completely different to what someone else can do. Two hours is just about long enough to read an entire academic book, for me. I’m willing to bet for a lot of people it isn’t.

But on the other hand, I know I make excuses for myself, and I procrastinate, and I let myself get away with things I shouldn’t. Even though I’m interested in my dissertation topic and once I get into it I tend to be quite focused, I’m bad at forcing myself to start, and I tend to put it off as long as possible.

When it’s sunny like today, I’m fighting for balance between, “Yes, I need to buckle down and get some work done,” and “hey, I’m taking this at my own pace”. It’s a fine line between letting myself take a break and procrastinating, and I’m not sure I’m always on the right side of it.

So, it’s time to set myself a 30 minute timer and try and actually get something done. Even if it’s sunny. Bite me, Spring.

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