Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Live Now!


For as long as you plan to remain active in the world of academia, the following statement will seem true:

You feel that if you can just finish this one task then you can go on to do whatever it is you think really need to be doing.

Once I get done with this stack of papers I'll have time to work on my seminar paper, thesis, dissertation, book, article, conference paper, lecture. After I get back from this conference I'll have more time to devote to my book chapter. If summer would just get here I'd have more time to study for my comprehensive exams. If I can just finish this revise/resubmit I'll be able to focus on my book.

This post might seem a little life-coachy, but that's a risk I'm willing to take because of the importance of this subject. First, when you allow this mode of thinking to dominate your approach to the tasks that actually CONSTITUTE your profession you run the terrible risk of not devoting the proper amount of time and attention to these projects. Second, when you constantly live for the future you forget to live in the present, which is really all you actually have.

One last quick note for grad students in particular (I'm speaking to myself here as well): We don't need to finish grad school in order to start living our "real" lives. Live now! Grad school is an awesome (if sometimes stressful) part of the process. Just as all of the above scenarios will lead to new tasks, finishing grad school will lead to a new host of responsibilities and tasks that make up the life of the academic professional.

So live now! If you follow solid planning advice from folks like Tanya, then you have a sense of how to allocate your time in a realistic manner, and you can get the most out of each task. This mindset is important because in the academy, as in most professions I would imagine, all these things you do end up determining how others see you as a professional. There's nothing wrong with planning your future, but remember that you don't have to get to the next project, the next level, the next job in order to live your life!

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