Skip to main content
added 274 characters in body
Source Link
trutheality
  • 961
  • 6
  • 10

How do you avoid feeling guilty about all the unfinished (and unfinishable) work in academia?

First of all, recognize the difference between unfinished and unfinishable. Yes, you can always do more, but your duty is to do what you promised. This means that learning what your own capacities are and only committing to what you know you can dodo* will eliminate much future guilt. The guilt comes mainly from the unfinished work that you promised to do, not from not doing other work beyond that. (If you actually feel guilty about not doing things you never committed to, I think you need to reevaluate your worldview. You can feel regret about those things, but there should be no guilt.)

Secondly, the "to-do list." It feels great when a to-do list is cleared, but, the guilt only increases when you fail to clear it. It's really just another form of the failure to fulfil a commitment, but privately. So there are a couple of variations on the to-do list that eliminate that problem.

  • The "to-mostly-do list" this is a large list of small specific things you plan to do in a bit more than the next day, the point is to make it hard to actually clear the list in a day, but easy to progress through it. That way, since you know the list is more than a day's worth of work, you are more psychologically satisfied with your progress and less dissatisfied with the unfinished items. Also seeing at the end of one day some of the things you'll need to do the next day can help increase productivity the next day.

  • The timetable: break up your day into small periods of time for each task. You're promising yourself to "work on X for an hour" rather than to "finish X," and you can be satisfied even if you ran into problems and didn't finish X.

Thirdly, I think you're not taking free time seriously enough. It really takes a shift in attitude to think of your free time as time in which you're not supposed to work as opposed to time in which you're allowing yourself not to work. I don't know if anyone can tell you how to make that shift, though.

Of course, all of this breaks when there's a close external deadline (grant/paper submission). Then you just work, eat, sleep, and work until you're done (but no time to feel guilty there).


*Actually, it's more complicated than "only committing to do what you know you can do." Sometimes it pays off to take a risk and promise something that you aren't 100% sure about, but when you take a risk you need to know that it's a risk and be prepared to fail.

How do you avoid feeling guilty about all the unfinished (and unfinishable) work in academia?

First of all, recognize the difference between unfinished and unfinishable. Yes, you can always do more, but your duty is to do what you promised. This means that learning what your own capacities are and only committing to what you know you can do will eliminate much future guilt. The guilt comes mainly from the unfinished work that you promised to do, not from not doing other work beyond that. (If you actually feel guilty about not doing things you never committed to, I think you need to reevaluate your worldview. You can feel regret about those things, but there should be no guilt.)

Secondly, the "to-do list." It feels great when a to-do list is cleared, but, the guilt only increases when you fail to clear it. It's really just another form of the failure to fulfil a commitment, but privately. So there are a couple of variations on the to-do list that eliminate that problem.

  • The "to-mostly-do list" this is a large list of small specific things you plan to do in a bit more than the next day, the point is to make it hard to actually clear the list in a day, but easy to progress through it. That way, since you know the list is more than a day's worth of work, you are more psychologically satisfied with your progress and less dissatisfied with the unfinished items. Also seeing at the end of one day some of the things you'll need to do the next day can help increase productivity the next day.

  • The timetable: break up your day into small periods of time for each task. You're promising yourself to "work on X for an hour" rather than to "finish X," and you can be satisfied even if you ran into problems and didn't finish X.

Thirdly, I think you're not taking free time seriously enough. It really takes a shift in attitude to think of your free time as time in which you're not supposed to work as opposed to time in which you're allowing yourself not to work. I don't know if anyone can tell you how to make that shift, though.

Of course, all of this breaks when there's a close external deadline (grant/paper submission). Then you just work, eat, sleep, and work until you're done (but no time to feel guilty there).

How do you avoid feeling guilty about all the unfinished (and unfinishable) work in academia?

First of all, recognize the difference between unfinished and unfinishable. Yes, you can always do more, but your duty is to do what you promised. This means that learning what your own capacities are and only committing to what you know you can do* will eliminate much future guilt. The guilt comes mainly from the unfinished work that you promised to do, not from not doing other work beyond that. (If you actually feel guilty about not doing things you never committed to, I think you need to reevaluate your worldview. You can feel regret about those things, but there should be no guilt.)

Secondly, the "to-do list." It feels great when a to-do list is cleared, but, the guilt only increases when you fail to clear it. It's really just another form of the failure to fulfil a commitment, but privately. So there are a couple of variations on the to-do list that eliminate that problem.

  • The "to-mostly-do list" this is a large list of small specific things you plan to do in a bit more than the next day, the point is to make it hard to actually clear the list in a day, but easy to progress through it. That way, since you know the list is more than a day's worth of work, you are more psychologically satisfied with your progress and less dissatisfied with the unfinished items. Also seeing at the end of one day some of the things you'll need to do the next day can help increase productivity the next day.

  • The timetable: break up your day into small periods of time for each task. You're promising yourself to "work on X for an hour" rather than to "finish X," and you can be satisfied even if you ran into problems and didn't finish X.

Thirdly, I think you're not taking free time seriously enough. It really takes a shift in attitude to think of your free time as time in which you're not supposed to work as opposed to time in which you're allowing yourself not to work. I don't know if anyone can tell you how to make that shift, though.

Of course, all of this breaks when there's a close external deadline (grant/paper submission). Then you just work, eat, sleep, and work until you're done (but no time to feel guilty there).


*Actually, it's more complicated than "only committing to do what you know you can do." Sometimes it pays off to take a risk and promise something that you aren't 100% sure about, but when you take a risk you need to know that it's a risk and be prepared to fail.

Source Link
trutheality
  • 961
  • 6
  • 10

How do you avoid feeling guilty about all the unfinished (and unfinishable) work in academia?

First of all, recognize the difference between unfinished and unfinishable. Yes, you can always do more, but your duty is to do what you promised. This means that learning what your own capacities are and only committing to what you know you can do will eliminate much future guilt. The guilt comes mainly from the unfinished work that you promised to do, not from not doing other work beyond that. (If you actually feel guilty about not doing things you never committed to, I think you need to reevaluate your worldview. You can feel regret about those things, but there should be no guilt.)

Secondly, the "to-do list." It feels great when a to-do list is cleared, but, the guilt only increases when you fail to clear it. It's really just another form of the failure to fulfil a commitment, but privately. So there are a couple of variations on the to-do list that eliminate that problem.

  • The "to-mostly-do list" this is a large list of small specific things you plan to do in a bit more than the next day, the point is to make it hard to actually clear the list in a day, but easy to progress through it. That way, since you know the list is more than a day's worth of work, you are more psychologically satisfied with your progress and less dissatisfied with the unfinished items. Also seeing at the end of one day some of the things you'll need to do the next day can help increase productivity the next day.

  • The timetable: break up your day into small periods of time for each task. You're promising yourself to "work on X for an hour" rather than to "finish X," and you can be satisfied even if you ran into problems and didn't finish X.

Thirdly, I think you're not taking free time seriously enough. It really takes a shift in attitude to think of your free time as time in which you're not supposed to work as opposed to time in which you're allowing yourself not to work. I don't know if anyone can tell you how to make that shift, though.

Of course, all of this breaks when there's a close external deadline (grant/paper submission). Then you just work, eat, sleep, and work until you're done (but no time to feel guilty there).