Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Time Management and Procrastination

Since it's been a week since I've posted, this seems like a timely topic. Tyler Cowen doesn't mince words (CNN): "Always tackle your most important task first thing in the morning." The rest of the short article is generally full of good advice.

Ryan recommends a recent article by Paul Graham, Maker's Schedule, Manager's Schedule. It is very good. A quick bit:
Most powerful people are on the manager's schedule. It's the schedule of command. But there's another way of using time that's common among people who make things, like programmers and writers. They generally prefer to use time in units of half a day at least. You can't write or program well in units of an hour. That's barely enough time to get started.
Finally, for academics, Tomorrow's Professor had a good note in June about completing the PhD. The whole thing might not interest everyone, but their last point about Watson's Syndrome is too good to pass up:

Avoid Watson's Syndrome. Named by R.J. Gelles, this syndrome is a euphemism for procrastination (2). It involves doing everything possible to avoid completing work. It differs from writer's block in that the sufferer substitutes real work that distracts from doing what is necessary for completing the dissertation or for advancing toward an academic career. The work may be outside or inside the university. Examples given by Gelles include:
* remodeling a house
* a never-ending literature review (after all, new papers are being published all the time and they must be referenced)
* data paralysis-making seemingly infinite Statistical Analysis System (SAS) and Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) runs
* perfectionism that doesn't let you submit until you think it is perfect (and it never is perfect) If you suffer from Watson's Syndrome, finding a mentor (see Hint 5) who pushes you to finish will help you get done. For many, however, particularly those who always waited until the night before an examination to begin studying, the syndrome is professionally fatal.

Needless to say I will get back to blogging on a more regular basis. And again thanks to Ryan for recommending Tomorrow's Professor. Now back to work! ... okay, if you want just a bit more distraction from your day, here is one more list from Tomorrow's Professor about avoiding writing procastination.

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