This morning as I was reading a paragraph here and there in Newsweek, I swear I saw the words “put off finishing his dissertation” rise off the page in 3-inch-tall block letters, or so it seemed.
Procrastinating on one’s dissertation isn’t unusual, but to get your name in Newsweek because what you’re doing to procrastinate is so important is unusual.
The person in question, theology graduate student Alastair Haines, says he has joined the Wiki Bible Project (http://www.newsweek.com/id/141516) as a way to put off finishing his dissertation.
The 22 project contributors are creating “an original open content translation of the Bible’s source texts,” which number about 30,000. It sounds like exciting work to have a hand in translating texts that have ruled the lives of so many people over the centuries, as well as to be part of such a controversial undertaking. Some biblical scholars say the project could produce an “inaccurate, bias-filled mess.” What theology graduate student wouldn’t want to go toe-to-toe with biblical scholars?
“Working on the Wiki Bible Project as a way to put off finishing a dissertation” has to get this week’s award for best excuse for Procrastinating on My Dissertation.
When most of us procrastinate, we aren’t having nearly as much fun as this Wiki contributor. Most ABD’s that I know would gladly clean toilets instead of writing their diss. And we certainly don’t get our names in Newsweek for what we’re doing instead of writing.
If you’re going to procrastinate on writing your diss, then make what you do instead be the most fun you could possibly imagine.
Even though I am not writing a dissertation, I still allow time-wasting, boring tasks assume such grandiose proportions that they consume whatever discretionary time I had for writing.
I recently discovered a novel way to procrastinate. I’ve started cleaning the walls of my upstairs hallway, but the incentive is what I use as the cleaner. Recently a cabinetmaker told me about magic eraser cleaning pads. You can clean your walls with the help of a magic sponge and some water. Who would have guessed? So now I sabotage my plans to write by using the amazing eraser sponge to clean that wall, which, not coincidentally, is directly across the hall from where I should be writing at my computer.
I’ve heard many people rationalize and say that when they’re procrastinating they’re actually doing valuable work and that they aren’t wasting time. I’m skeptical. I know how easy it is to get carried away. In fact, I’m a case in point. I’ve gone beyond cleaning that one wall. I’m starting to move down the stairway now– there are lots of marks on that stairway wall. I’m too engaged in this project to see it just as a bit of cleaning. I know myself too well and self-regulation is not a top strength. The task that had been something to do during a writing break has taken on a life of its own.
I need to regroup!
How do you procrastinate? I’d love to hear from recovering procrastinators. What do you do to keep on track with your dissertation?