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Guilt the Ever so Powerfull Motivator

Guilt is a very strange motivator, ever present, always nagging, constantly tugging on your conscience, building up stress levels like nothing else and thus at the end rendering the guilt bearer unable to work.

Recently in my social environment there was the case of someone who seemed to have fallen victim to this guilt. Not even going to the lab anymore or opening emails from supervisors, although the guilt-victim should already be in write up. I realised that working 6 sometimes 7 days a week on my dissertation is no reason for feeling guilty. However, every minute not spend on my dissertation is a minute filled with guilt. Filled with nagging thoughts of I should, I could, I would …
Only when I heard about the case above, did I realise that there is no reason for feeling guilty, and really there is no point in staring at my dissertation, when not being able to focus any more.

This time would be more productively spend with sports, walks, chat with a fellow sufferer, visit the library, or finally finally sort the office. Yet, each of these activities (see my previous blog about procrastinator’s delight) is understood by your peers as procrastination. As soon as this reaction emerges the guilt kicks in again, grinning like the crazy cat in Alice Adventures in Wonderland, shouting “I AM BACK HEAR ME ROAR” (or ‘hear me guilt trip’ for that matter).

It seems a vicious circle.
My solution? – Procrastinator’s Delight!
Be a proud procrastinator!

  • Enjoy time of doodling …

it is an important time, the back of my head is always
grateful for doodling time. This time creates space in
which the back of my head has time to solve problems, to
put one and two together (and make it three or sometimes
twelve or 42).

  • Be proud that you are active …

sitting in front of the computer for 9 hours a day is less
than healthy. Enjoy a walk, the gym, the Zumba DVD or
Pilates. Have fun baking a cake or meeting a friend.

  • Be social …

talking to friends and fellow sufferers unblocks your mind.
In the grad-school I attended recently the instructors
commanded to empty your head. I only made the connection
to procrastination now. If your mind is discombobulated
there is no room for movement. Talking and letting thoughts
and worries out helps to – create mental space. It is also
a valuable source for feedback.

And now back to cleaning my office!

Categories: Teaching

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Nathalie Sheridan

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