Friday, July 23, 2010

re-finding motivation

How much I accomplish on any given day depends upon a lot of factors. With the heat that has plagued southern Europe recently my motivation levels have been at a very low ebb. The longer the heat lasted, the less motivated I was to do anything near the computer (which generates its own heat, making matters worse). Eventually, in hopes of getting out of the cycle of thinking “I should be working, I’m too hot/miserable to work” I booked tickets to go visit a friend in Scotland for a week, thinking I could bring my computer and get more done while here than I’d been accomplishing at home, even with the distractions of a friend to visit.

Much to my delight, it is, in fact, much cooler here. This morning I enjoyed my first hot shower in weeks (it has been so hot that only very cold showers feel good at home). However, I then had to face a related challenge. One I am aware of, yet still get caught up in now and again. The dreaded “must work/can’t work” mentality often, for me, leads to “work” becoming a vague, nebulous, undefined thing that I “should” be doing, but am not. My first full day in Scotland I spent visiting friends, helping my friend get settled into his new flat, and baking bread and cookies. All with the vague sensation in the back of my mind that I “should” be working, but without any specific thoughts about what “work” means. I find it difficult to actually sit down to “work” when I don’t have a specific task in mind to accomplish.

Fortunately, late last night I took the time to actually open my files, see the list of tasks I have accomplished recently, and what more still needs doing, and I found a specific, identifiable task that needs to be done next. At that point I was much too sleepy to do it, but that is a good thing—this morning, when I woke up, I woke up thinking, for the first time in weeks, about work. About the specific things that need to be done next, so that I may compare the data I’ve been generating with the data that has been published in the literature. In short, I have re-found my motivation. So, with that I leave you and depart to my spreadsheets for an afternoon of fun with data…

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