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Ask Dr. Ed Wilfong Your Own Question
Dr. Ed Wilfong
Dr. Ed Wilfong, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 1528
Experience:  Twenty-five years treating all ages; Specialities: psychopharmacology & diagnosis, MMPI-2, testing.
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procrastinate

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I have a long list of deadlines to work on, several of them being major, major deadlines. But somehow I don't want to bring myself to work. I am practically doing nothing.

Dr. Ed Wilfong :

You sound overwhelmed

Customer:

Yes, I am. I was aiming to send out an introductory chapter of my book out to a publisher by the end of this month, but it seems I won't be able to make it. Plus, I'm teaching two courses in the fall, and haven't got the syllabi ready!

Dr. Ed Wilfong :

Make yourself a list. Break tasks down into things that can be done in small amounts of time (like 15-30 minutes). Take them on one at a time and don't worry about complete project, Check them off your list. When you start to work, don't plan on doing more than on small piece at a time.

Dr. Ed Wilfong :

Do you know what is holding you back?

Customer:

I'm the kind of person who lacks initiative and likes to procrastinate a lot. If I don't have a deadline, I'll get nothing done. But this time it seems that even with deadlines, I can't bring myself to work. I think I've started to panic.

Dr. Ed Wilfong :

I do the same thing, especially when I teach. It sound as though the book deadline is self imposed and changing it can work. It would be helpful for me to know at what level and what you teach.

Customer:

I teach undergrad and grad courses at a major research university. It's funny that all the time, I tell my students not to put off their essays to the last minute.

Dr. Ed Wilfong :

the two most important things are to prioritize and break things down into manageable bites. Actually, JUST DO SOMETHING, and it should start to flow.

Customer:

The book deadline is actually real. I've got to get the book out in order to be tenured.

Dr. Ed Wilfong :

I give my students better advice than I take myself. It always seemed that I had an internal alarm that told me last possible moment I could start and get things done.

Dr. Ed Wilfong :

Do you feel especially depressed or is this a typical thing for you?

Dr. Ed Wilfong :

How much fear do you have of not getting tenure?

Customer:

This is quite typical for me, especially in the summer when I'm not teaching and have plenty of time to manage myself. As long as I finish the book, tenure shouldn't be a problem. But I'm pretty slow on my book, especially with bouts of depression like this, and my tenure review is in 2013.

Dr. Ed Wilfong :

I understand the unstructured time thing.....

Dr. Ed Wilfong :

IS the depression frustration and getting down on self, or more than that?

Dr. Ed Wilfong :

More than situation?

Customer:

I guess frustration is the more accurate thing to say.

Dr. Ed Wilfong :

OK, just wanted to make sure.

Customer:

so you've been in a situation like mine now and then yourself?

Dr. Ed Wilfong :

constantly- I am ultimate procrastinator. It is just important to DO SOMETHING, ANYTHING and get rolling. Psychology is good for procrastination (when not teaching). I can't do anything unless I have a patient, so hard to procrastinate with someone sitting across from me.

Dr. Ed Wilfong :

You are experienced, syllabi can't take that long once you get started (I know it depends on what you teach...)

Customer:

Honestly I don't like research that much, and I don't enjoy writing. It's weird how I ended up in such a position. I've been thinking that I have chosen a wrong career. But since it's too late to change it, I guess I'd have to stick it out. But you can see where my lacking initiatives comes from.

Customer:

Yes, I can definitely start with the syllabi.

Dr. Ed Wilfong :

As for book, how many hours do you figure you need? Does date for first chapter have any flexibility?

Dr. Ed Wilfong :

Do you like teaching?

Customer:

It's pretty hard to quantify. Depending on my goal, quality-wise, the time I'll need for finishing the book range from 3 months to 6 months. I know I'll sound like a loser, but I don't particularly enjoy teaching as well.

Customer:

The date for my first chapter is self-imposed; no one has given me a deadline.

Dr. Ed Wilfong :

First, you don't sound like a loser. You are still young, very young. It is not too late to change anything. May I ask what fireld you are in?

Customer:

I'm in media and cultural studies; I have two kids; my husband teaches in the same university. In other people's eyes, we have the perfect jobs.

Dr. Ed Wilfong :

Other people don't have to live your life. I am just wondering if there are applications outside of university you might enjoy and use you talents.

Customer:

But that would sound like quitting, wouldn't it? I want to give it another try, if it is not too late to cultivate an interest in what I'm doing right now.

Customer:

I feel better by simply chatting with you.

Dr. Ed Wilfong :

Quitting and changing are not the same. But I understand you wanting to keep trying.

Dr. Ed Wilfong :

May I make a very direct suggestion?

Customer:

Yes, please.

Dr. Ed Wilfong :

Move the book date goal to in the school year. I think, if you are like me at all, you will get it done as you won't have time to procrastinate. Focus on Syllabi for now.

Customer:

That sounds reasonable and manageable. I am much more efficient and much happier in the school year than in summer. I think your suggestion makes a lot of sense!

Dr. Ed Wilfong :

Good. I always fall apart with unstructured time. Not all it is cracked up to be, especially with people that are high achievers and used to working hard.

Customer:

Thank you for trying to understand my concern and situation. Next time, maybe we can chat about how to deal with unstructured time. It's great that summer is drawing to an end finally!

Dr. Ed Wilfong :

I'll be glad to talk any time. Not sure how good of expert I am for unstructured time......but sometimes I give better advice that I wish I would take myself. Good luck.

Customer:

I've got to leave now to pick up my kids. Thanks again!

Dr. Ed Wilfong :

my pleasure

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