Posted by September Blue Tuesday, 16 December 2008

I just marked 86 undergraduate essays in six days. Six days, ladies and gentlemen, and six days which included four library shifts, a job application and a Christmas party at that. My department so owes me a puppy.

And with the self-congratulations over my time management abilities out of the way, here's what I actually wanted to say: God, I am terrible at time management. Really really bad at it. I have a lot of experience at doing seventeen things at once (advice: if you are a PhD student, and you already have three jobs, and someone offers you another one working on organising a conference, the answer is 'HELL NO' and not 'Will there be wine?'. Actually, no - the answer is 'Will you help me talk one of my other bosses into taking leave from that job?', because the conference will be better, but you will be so busy. Make sure there's wine, too), so I can mostly get everything done on time, but that's not quite the same as being good at getting everything done on time. And this, I don't think I'm any good at.

I procrastinate, and then I panic. That's it, basically. That's what I do. It got stuff done when I was an undergraduate, and it got me through my PhD, but I'm not a student any more! And if I have to do things like marking 86 essays in six days, I at least want to be able to do so in such a way that I don't feel like I'm ditching all my friends and putting my life on pause in order to Get The Work Done, because earlier on the afternoon when I could have got some of the work done I was watching Battlestar Galactica, and now I'll feel guilty if I spend any of my time doing or thinking about anything other than work.

Yeah, and I haven't even seen the most recent episode of Battlestar Galactica yet. People, I am procrastinating from my procrastination. What the hell.

All right, so here's the problem: I can't tell whether I'm just bad at time management, or whether my belief that I'm bad at time management cripples my ability to manage my time by including anything other than work in it. Effectively, I suppose the two are the same, and one of these days I probably am going to raise my head from a stack of undergraduate essays I'm marking on a library shift to find that two of my other bosses have fired me, my friends have all dropped me and written a tell-all confessional bestseller about the experience ('Reply to your emails RIGHT NOW or I'll assume you are dead in a ditch!': The September Blue Story), and my boyfriend's left me for a voice-activated Dalek, and I still haven't done the dishes. It's probably the second one, to be honest. And that was a great mindset for getting me through a PhD; it's just not helping me now. So, new semester's resolution, I am Working On It.

I gave up guilt for Lent once. Did I mention that? I really did, and that was during the PhD and everything. I can provide a detailed theological justification for it, too But, wow. Difficult.

Actually, you know what I really need to do? I need to sleep.


  1. Autumn Song Says:
  2. I can't help, I'm afraid. I'm much worse at time management now than I ever was when I was doing the PhD. And much lower on motivation. And much more prone to delay followed by panic. In fact, I'm procrastinating now...

  3. Sisyphus Says:
  4. You don't want a puppy ---- think how much more time management skills you would need to let the poor little beggar out regularly and feed him and whatnot. You'd feel extra guilty if you looked up from grading 86 papers and discovered that the puppy, being unable to relieve himself outside, eventually exploded.

  5. phd me Says:
  6. Sleep is such a cure-all, and it really helps with the procrastination! When I was writing my dissertation, my roommate got used to finding me flat on my back in the living room floor, staring at the ceiling, instead of typing away at the laptop - because I was thinking, that's why!

    I might be a little better now but it never lasts long. Even I amaze myself with what ends up being more important that all those things that affect my tenure. Plucking my eyebrows? Organizing my iTunes? Oh, yeah!