Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Ambition Sucks

Um, so, that to-do list in my last post is too long.


I hate it.

Why do I feel that I must do everything, every single thing, that I possibly can, every single summer? I don't ever do it all, and I spend a lot of time being stressed out about having so much to do. Why do I insist upon putting fun things--like making paper, or knitting, or reading a book for pleasure--on my Task List? On the one hand, it gives them some priority. On the other, I find myself thinking things like, "OK, if I just knit two rows of this afghan every day, I'll have it done by September!", and then it becomes a Required Homework Item and I drain all of the fun out of it.

When I was a kid--like, twelve--I'd get so excited about summer that I'd start planning it in early May. I'd make up detailed schedules of what I was going to do every day: play horses from 9-10, work on a puppet show with my brother from 10-11, read from 11-12, go to the pool from 2-3, and so forth. Then I'd look at those schedules, feel like the summer was already over (and hadn't been all that interesting), and get depressed.

I was twelve twenty-three years ago. Have I learned anything? Not really.

So here's the deal. I might not do all the stuff on my to-do list. (In fact, I definitely won't, but don't let me overhear myself saying it.) And that is simply going to have to be all right. If I can finish this one article (which I can), outline my colloquium presentation, and decide on a topic for Article/Chapter/Whatever the Next (and I have an idea for that), then I'll be all right research-wise. And the book reviewing stuff will just happen. Right? Right.

Okay! First up: Course packs are due this week! So I've got to go make some copies.


Earnest English said...

I have done exactly the same as you, turning fun things into chores. I think maybe there should be designated "fun" time daily or weekly, but then you do whatever you want in that time -- including nothing but staring out the window.

I say that, but will I do it?

Sisyphus said...

I totally could have written this post! Down to the bit about scheduling the shit outta things when I was younger.

Do you have "sit in the shade of the garden and drink a mojito" anywhere on your list? No? Well then, wouldn't it be Extra Fun to drop everything on your list and do that right now?

(that's me, always willing to "be helpful")

What Now? said...

Oh, I hear ya on this one! On the first day of our vacation a couple of weeks ago, I thought, "I think I'll get up early every morning and go for a walk, and then read mid-day, and then kayak in the afternoon before showering & having happy hour with D." And then it rained the second afternoon, which threw off my schedule and was about to distress me terribly when I realized that perhaps I could instead sit at the window and watch the gorgeous weather over the lake and read my fun book in the afternoon. Problem solved! But I really had to work hard not to create such "problems" for myself ... on vacation of all things! Since we got back, I'm working on NOT creating schedules for myself, but it's an uphill battle.

J. Otto Pohl said...

I only make lists of things to do and schedules of stuff that has to get done. I definitely never structure relaxation. Then I am on the five minute plan. Right now I have a lot of stuff that has to get done eventually, like before December. But, I am only really focusing on the few things I have to get done before Monday.

Notorious Ph.D. said...

You made schedules at age twelve?!? Holy gods, woman -- I thought *I* was ridiculous preteen, but that takes the cake. You were born to be an academic.

Notorious Ph.D. said...

(BTW, you should join our writing group this fall!)

heu mihi said...

Notorious--I totally want to! I meant to do it this summer, but was on vacation for the first two weeks, and by the time I got back it was pretty much in full swing--and my writing definitely *wasn't*. But plan on my joining up!

Jeremy said...

You are right Notorious Ph.D, that is remarkable mark at only 12 years old.