• Who am I?

    I am Qrystal; or at least, that's my dot-name! Har har. (My name is really Crystal, but that's not as internet-searchable; hence, switching the C for the little-used letter Q.)

    I am here because I enjoy writing. I do this mostly for myself, but I also have a passion for helping others learn things from the things I write. Now that I am done my Ph.D. in Physics, I am stepping away from academic research so that I can indulge in some creative ways to share my knowledge and inspire the appreciation of scientific thinking in others. I am also working as a tutor, which is one of the jobs I've most enjoyed doing in my life so far.


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  • Analyzing my procrastination

    Posted by Qrystal on July 19, 2008 at 1:08.
    Category: Life. Tags: dreams, goals, mindmapping, myself, procrastination, task-management.

    I’ve been doing it again: procrastinating madly. The way it seems to happen without my awareness is completely unnerving, and I’m really starting to feel the urge to make it stop. But how? I seem to be addicted to being happy-go-lucky, paying no attention to what I’m doing, just existing and not thinking about it. Except, I do think about it. I think a lot.

    Unfortunately for me, thinking is just another way I procrastinate. I get all analytical, and feel like I come up with some kind of answer that I try to convince myself I’m satisfied with — but the procrastination is not magically cured, strangely enough. There is no magic pill, as they say.

    This week, though, the urge to quit procrastinating has gotten really intense. I think it’s been building up over the past few weeks or even months, at least at the subconscious level, or so my dreams are telling me. I’ll discuss them in more detail, below, and I’ll also share and discuss a mindmap I drew last weekend about my procrastination.

    I don’t know why I keep ignoring the subconscious urgings, and I definitely don’t know why I keep procrastinating despite the urgency I’m starting to feel, but I do know that I’m writing about it so I can start documenting the transition I’m making to actually making conscious effort to overcome it.

    Messages from Dreams

    I don’t remember all my dreams, but most nights lately I have had dreams that really strongly seem as if they are messages from my subconscious. Even the most basic of analysis seems to hint that my subconscious is getting annoyed with me.

    Unfortunately, I don’t really remember the stories in much detail, only vague scenes, like snapshots from the dreams. Before I get into the analysis, here’s some of those snapshots:

    So I think the dreams seem to center around the ideas of “stuff”, and excesses, and wasting of time, and disappointment in myself. I think I’ve had anywhere between 10 and 20 dreams that I can remember having various parts of these themes (not including the teeth thing, as there has surely been 10 to 20 of these alone), often interlinked.

    The other people in the dreams have ranged throughout my husband’s family and my own, as well as current or old friends or acquaintances, and occasionally people change into other people partway through scenes (an odd fact that I don’t find odd until I awaken). I’m pretty sure the dreams are not actually about those specific people, but that they represent a reflection in which I can see myself, or people whose perspective I can imagine. I don’t generally worry about what other people think of me, except to the extent that I hope that I am the person that people see me to be, and that people see me as the person I am. (I don’t know if that clarified anything, but I’ve read through the sentence thrice and I think it says it right. Try reading it again? :P)

    What I think is key to understanding the dreams (except maybe the teeth one, which I have no idea about) is that the “stuff” is not just physical stuff, like the boxes of unpacked books from two moves ago or the folders of school notes that would surely help me in my current work. I mean, yes, those things are contributing, but there’s more “stuff” than just those.

    The real kicker, to me, is thinking that the dreams may be all about “stuff I want to do” as well. I’m so bogged down with things I really, really want to do, that nothing gets done; it gets procrastinated. I mean, I meant to say that sentence in the past tense, because after saying something so clearly, how could such behaviour continue? ;)

    The Mindmap

    The dreams were already well-established before the morning of the mindmap:

    Procrastinate Mindmap

    That was exactly one week ago today, minus about six hours. Yes, I woke up early on a Saturday to sketch out the thoughts I was having about my tendancy to procrastinate.

    I do love mindmapping, because it really does help the brainstorming process chew through some great ideas and turn them into useful things. I feel a little awkward commentating on the thought progression of how the map was developed, so I’d rather just let you check it out and see for yourself if you can make any sense of it. :)

    I will say two things about it, actually:

    I’m sure it can be explored in any order, however, including (but not limited to) top left to bottom right. There is a psychological tendency to read things that way, of course, and chances are, I would have tendency to put the more introductory concepts near the top left. Hmm! I always find it interesting to contemplate how the mind (especially my mind) might work!

    The Kick in the Pants

    Two days ago, on Wednesday, I had a doctor’s appointment. The doctor and I have gotten to talking a few times about my procrastination, even to the point of investigating whether my bouts of listlessness may be something physical. (Nothing was found.) She has given me good advice in the past, like choosing to describe my tasks with “will do” instead of “plan to do” or “should do”.

    This day, we talked for almost 45 minutes about my procrastination, starting with me talking about some conclusions I had from the mindmap above:

    The Aftermath

    Today, I finally had an opportunity to describe to my husband why it was that the doctor made me cry on Wednesday. (He knew that much of the story already, but a lot had happened on Wednesday and we had a lot of other things to talk about that evening instead. And yesterday was band night.)

    I’d had two days to think about what was discussed on Wednesday, and six days since the mindmap, and so the thoughts had become concrete enough that I could talk about them out loud. (I suppose that preparedness extended to this blog easily enough as well!)

    He listened very well to what I was describing about myself, and asked some very good questions too. Most importantly: have I actually done any better since realizing any of the above things? I went for the cop-out answer: “Yes and no.

    Yes, I’ve become more consistent in doing things that need to be done. Part of this is because I’m making an effort to avoid saying I’m “not procrastinating” stuff, but rather, saying I am “following through on my intentions.” Not only does this enforce the notion of following through, but it reminds me that these things I am doing are things I, myself, intend to do. My own intentions must be important to me!

    But no, I haven’t really made huge progress on my thesis. I have made some progress every day though, and that is something, even if it’s only a smidge more than nothing. It is helping me practice being consistent, and helping me practice returning my train of thought to my thesis frequently.

    So, I know I’m kinda procrastinating on my thesis by doing other things that I’ve been procrastinating for too long, but I’m trying to strike a balance. At very least, I don’t want to catch myself flat-out procrastinating doing anything but being productive, because it always sucks to snap out of such a phase and get hit with a wave of guilt. I’m trying to cultivate waves of pride in my accomplishments instead!

    Today, I get to be proud of starting and finishing a blog post that has been on the tip of my brain for days, and that really needed to come out. And I wrote this all after hours, so it isn’t really taking away from my thesis-writing time. I am up past midnight though, which might affect tomorrow’s work, but the relief I’ll feel about finishing this train of thought will be well worth it. In fact, I just might be completely done with the topic of procrastination entirely, since I am now focused on discussing how I will follow through on my intentions rather than pro… I mean, uh, the ‘p’-word. ;)

    Please, I welcome any and all comments, except if they’re spam. ;)

    9 Comments »

    • Victoria

      Hey Bugbrain,
      I read your post rather thoroughly, and am interested in knowing if you would be interested in talking to a professional about your procrastination. I honestly believe your issue is anxiety, not procrastination. Keep in mind that I’m currently being medicated for anxiety, and had no clue thats what it was until I spoke to someone in detail about my symptoms. *hugs!*

    • Victoria

      Hey Bugbrain,
      I read your post rather thoroughly, and am interested in knowing if you would be interested in talking to a professional about your procrastination. I honestly believe your issue is anxiety, not procrastination. Keep in mind that I’m currently being medicated for anxiety, and had no clue thats what it was until I spoke to someone in detail about my symptoms. *hugs!*

    • http://shiny.ultraspy.org ultraspy

      A) I wish I’d chosen the topic “The Grad Student’s Worse Nightmare: Best Practices Treatment Goals for Procrastination.”

      B) What is your thesis topic?

      C) I frequently have the dream where all my teeth crumble out too!

    • http://shiny.ultraspy.org ultraspy

      A) I wish I’d chosen the topic “The Grad Student’s Worse Nightmare: Best Practices Treatment Goals for Procrastination.”

      B) What is your thesis topic?

      C) I frequently have the dream where all my teeth crumble out too!

    • http://www.Procrastivity.com Kerul

      Very interesting dreams. I’ve had crumbling teeth dreams, too, and dreams about not having submitted papers for a class or missing classes (or forgetting I’ve even signed up for classes – all of a sudden realizing I’ve missed half the semester…).
      About clutter, we all have it. Don’t make yourself feel bad about it. That will only kill your motivation to get organized/decluttered.
      Regarding procrastination: It can sometimes be good to procrastinate – it can lead to less struggle, delay (counter-intuitive, but true), and more optimal functioning.
      There’s a new book out titled Productive Procrastination, and it describes how to do it, how to tell productive from destructive procrastination, and how to end the destruction kind. It’s available on Amazon.com. Learn more about the book at http://www.Procrastivity.com

    • http://www.Procrastivity.com Kerul

      Very interesting dreams. I’ve had crumbling teeth dreams, too, and dreams about not having submitted papers for a class or missing classes (or forgetting I’ve even signed up for classes – all of a sudden realizing I’ve missed half the semester…).
      About clutter, we all have it. Don’t make yourself feel bad about it. That will only kill your motivation to get organized/decluttered.
      Regarding procrastination: It can sometimes be good to procrastinate – it can lead to less struggle, delay (counter-intuitive, but true), and more optimal functioning.
      There’s a new book out titled Productive Procrastination, and it describes how to do it, how to tell productive from destructive procrastination, and how to end the destruction kind. It’s available on Amazon.com. Learn more about the book at http://www.Procrastivity.com

    • http://qrystal.name Qrystal

      Wow, thanks all, for helping me feel less alone about the crumbling teeth dreams!!

      I’ve been thinking a lot about the dreams even more lately, having written about them here, and I’ve had an idea about what the meaning could be. What if it’s a WARNING about what else might crumble if I continue procrastinating? Dreams are known to be really symbolic, which is why they often seem so cryptic.

      And dental hygiene is a great analogy for those little steps that make a big difference. Maybe in this case, frequent attention to my cause will help me ensure it doesn’t come crumbling down around me.

      And, for what it’s worth, I got a dental checkup and cleaning today just for peace of mind. (Another anti-procrastinated task!)

      @Victoria/Bugbrain: I’m glad we had a chance to talk about this today. For the record though, I have talked to several professionals about my procrastination: both in the medical and psychological field. The best help I got was from the doctor in the “Kick in the Pants” section above! :)

      @ultraspy: Hey, good point, I should at least put the tentative title of my thesis on my “about” page. I bet I’d be doing very well if it was entitled, “An Intensive Study of a Chronic Procrastinator in Graduate Studies”, but alas, I’m in physics, not psychology. :P

      @Kerul: I agree that making myself feel bad about clutter would be counterproductive; I have been trying to avoid doing that ever since I’ve been FLYwashed (see FlyLady.net)! I love organizing though, and so decluttering is actually a “want to do” not a “dread to do” task. My problem is that there are so many things I want to do, and many of them would take so long that I can’t bring myself to start! I’m pretty sure I have to continue to treat procrastination as a bad thing so I can kick the habit, but your book does look interesting, and I will definitely see about checking it out.

      Thank you all for the comments! I really appreciate the opportunity to talk to anyone who might understand. :)

    • http://qrystal.name Qrystal

      Wow, thanks all, for helping me feel less alone about the crumbling teeth dreams!!

      I’ve been thinking a lot about the dreams even more lately, having written about them here, and I’ve had an idea about what the meaning could be. What if it’s a WARNING about what else might crumble if I continue procrastinating? Dreams are known to be really symbolic, which is why they often seem so cryptic.

      And dental hygiene is a great analogy for those little steps that make a big difference. Maybe in this case, frequent attention to my cause will help me ensure it doesn’t come crumbling down around me.

      And, for what it’s worth, I got a dental checkup and cleaning today just for peace of mind. (Another anti-procrastinated task!)

      @Victoria/Bugbrain: I’m glad we had a chance to talk about this today. For the record though, I have talked to several professionals about my procrastination: both in the medical and psychological field. The best help I got was from the doctor in the “Kick in the Pants” section above! :)

      @ultraspy: Hey, good point, I should at least put the tentative title of my thesis on my “about” page. I bet I’d be doing very well if it was entitled, “An Intensive Study of a Chronic Procrastinator in Graduate Studies”, but alas, I’m in physics, not psychology. :P

      @Kerul: I agree that making myself feel bad about clutter would be counterproductive; I have been trying to avoid doing that ever since I’ve been FLYwashed (see FlyLady.net)! I love organizing though, and so decluttering is actually a “want to do” not a “dread to do” task. My problem is that there are so many things I want to do, and many of them would take so long that I can’t bring myself to start! I’m pretty sure I have to continue to treat procrastination as a bad thing so I can kick the habit, but your book does look interesting, and I will definitely see about checking it out.

      Thank you all for the comments! I really appreciate the opportunity to talk to anyone who might understand. :)

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