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Old 03-02-2015, 01:14 AM
 
Location: Greater Orlampa CSA
4,451 posts, read 3,522,631 times
Reputation: 3121

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Hello,

So I wasn't sure if this was the proper forum for this, I have been on the site now for about 6 months.

Anyways, I figured I'd start by describing myself. I am originally from Ohio, however I am currently pursuing a doctoral degree at a very high activity research institution (RU/VH) in the American Southeast.

However, I am still relatively young (23), but at the same time, due to starting early in postsecondary education, I am now only about four months away from being ABD (All But Dissertation), and becoming a doctoral candidate.

I have not had a great deal of professional work experience yet, though I have held a wide variety of part time jobs. My performance reviews in those have been mixed, and I don't think I have ever been considered the strongest/best employee of the year, but have always been praised for my effort/persistence and ability to work within the team structure. There have been a few jobs where I have been somewhat successful (at least in my observation, and received letters of recommendation/built relationships) However, due to my limited experience, particularly in my field of choice (Higher Education), I am quite worried about actually being able to find a position, and also being able to succeed in it if I am able to secure one.

I obtained my previous degrees in other fields of education (K-12), however I felt that the area/job role didn't best align with my personal strengths, along with my interests, and so I switched, and that is the explanation for why I am so far along academically at an early age, I have mainly continued along interruption free.

As far as the rest of my life, I think everything is going (relatively speaking) well. I have a very close knit family who I get along with, I have a small yet tight knit social circle, and am currently engaged (likely to be married early next year).

I am someone who likes to stay relatively active, and so I regularly bike, kayak, and do other workouts, but my biggest passion is running, and so I have completed several marathons and half marathons, and have plans in the upcoming years to complete an Ultramarathon and a Half Ironman. I also have a decent array of hobbies, and am relatively well traveled, I do have the goal of eventually being someone that could be called a "Renassiance Man", with expertise and passion for a wide array of subjects, and just everything else that is involved in making the most of my time on this earth. (I am a Christian, however I wanted to leave this out of details about personal pursuits because I didn't want to have any responders feel uncomfortable reading about the meaning of my spiritual life)

Overall though, the point of all that was to say that, through the first quarter (I'm cautiously optimistic with modern medical practices that I'll live to at least 90), I have been/lived what I think many people would call a successful/productive life, at least to this point in time.

The reason I am writing (which will give everything above context, I promise nothing above was put there to brag, in fact, quite the opposite) however is due to concern about something that has been vastly affecting my ability to function and perform successfully. Procrastination/Information "Addiction" for lack of a better word. While computers and modern media are truly a wonderful invention in many ways, in some ways, they have had some negative affects. I have always had a love for learning. And that isn't related to a specific subject. Though before, to some degree, it was controllable, because when I was younger and my main interests were sports and geography and videogames, there was only so much that could be looked up about those things. However, as I have grown older, my interests have expanded, which many times isn't a bad thing, but in this case it definitely is. Because there really is no limit to how much information can be consumed. Therefore, sites like this, that when reading through threads, can provide a comprehensive database of statistical information and comparison metrics for almost every single aspect of every single city in our country, my addiction, which was always somewhat of procrastination, is now worse than ever. It has never been great, but recently, it has gotten to the point where I have no discipline or remote interest in doing schoolwork, when there are so many books that can be read (or unfortunately websites that can be perused), in the rapidly expanding category of interests I have now (architecture, geography, art, sports, nature/outdoors, economics, math, natural science, architecture, urban planning, horticulture, politics, religion/theology, etc.), I could go on for a while, but I am quite the nerd (that obviously might have some level of ADD, or just a complete lack of discipline. The epitome of my thought, is that right now it is 2:30 AM, I am scheduled to be substitute teaching at a school tomorrow morning, I have my comprehensive exams in two weeks, I have a 40 page paper due in a month, and I should be applying for jobs, managing my post as a GTA, or getting involved in networking opportunities, not to mention that not unimportant thing that is sleeping. This has been a consistent occurrence with various areas of intense focus throughout my life, however, I would say it has never been worse than during this period over the past few weeks. There will be many days when I go to the library at 9 AM, and don't leave until 9 PM. However, whilst I am there, I am not doing anything productive. Far from it. (and this is quite literal. I can be there for 10+ hours or at my house on occasion, and not do anything remotely related to schoolwork.) Oftentimes, I do enjoy cleaning my house to a tee (which is good), and then also inventing other chores to be done, then once on campus, this will become anything from going to a couple campus social events during the week and working out (things I would have time to do more regularly otherwise if I managed my time better), looking at old pictures on Facebook and categorizing my memories, looking up routes to random places on Google Maps and studying random cities streetscapes and rail systems to see how my commute would be, looking at sports forums on ESPN and other sites, looking at historical records of teams, the size of stadiums, the types of matchups they have upcoming, reading the Wall Street Journal or New York Times, oftentimes cover to cover and taking several hours to do so. Even worse, some of my most basic needs don't get met during this intense period of focus on areas of my fascination (EG, eating/showering will get delayed, as well as opportunities to actually relax, exercise, and spending time with significant others. Sleep is a big thing too. I have pulled several non productive all nighters) Also, one thing I have a tendency to do is to make lists as a way of managing these priorities and staying focused, and also inventing a schedule of times that I attempt to complete work throughout the week. The problem is, that I am not the best at prioritizing (or I just don't feel like it), and so a list that started at 5 things becomes a list of about 60 things that maybe I should do at some point to advance my career, and admittedly meaningless things like coupons to buy on LivingSocial, weekend festivals coming up in my area, and long lists of restaurants in my area, and movies and books that I had been meaning to watch.

If you are still reading this right now, I am sorry. But I really did at least need to spit out some of what I am going through, even if nobody actually ends up reading or replying to it. One of the things I found in a recent book that I read talked about the heart of motivation, and why it is that we do what we do (I'll admit, my spiritual connection/relationship is much weaker than I'd like right now too, because I spent that time doing other stuff and procrastinating). It talked about how it was really a three tiered model, and that there were rewards (positive consequences) and the hatchet (negative consequences), and that those are the only two things the human mind will respond to. However, what it was really missing in all of that was the heart, or the passion, selflessness and love that come directly from the heart. At the time, everything I was reading sounded really good, and that the main influence needed to be not from fearing consequences or reaping rewards (not that those things were bad), but that the primary influence of my "Want to do", was to come from the heart.

However, time passed along, and clearly, that message faded away too. Perhaps it really is about seeking after my deeper purpose, and that when I really find that, I will be successful. (I will admit, there are many fields I am more interested in right now than the one I currently seeking a degree in, at least right now) However, I have been unable to do that yet, and since there has not been a clear light display of positive rewards, or if so, my brain hasn't yet smelled that trail's scent, my primary motivator hasn't even been not failing, but not being embarrassed (well, I suppose, not failing). It sort of stemmed from when in grade school, I would always be in big trouble if I didn't achieve a certain GPA, and so that really became my motivation when in school (school was just time in between playing video games, watching sports, traveling and having fun). I wonder if that has sort of transpired over to now, because, the time that I really tend to get effective work done is when A) It is really easy to me or B) When the situation is so desperate that if I don't put a good product together immediately, the consequences will be severe (much more common). A big part of the conscious, rational part of my mind believes that if I put this procrastination stuff to bed, I will have a lot more time in my life to do the things I really enjoy, and not spend hours upon hours perusing the internet. (However, some part of myself clearly still doesn't realize that.)

I think the reason that over time, I have become somewhat cocky, is that with time, even an effort that was a "failing effort", has increasingly become associated in my mind with success. Whereas before, I felt like I actually did need to submit all my assignments for class, and do so before the deadline, and be prepared in advance, certain examples have taught me otherwise. (IE, What's the harm in getting a B, I only studied for about 5 hours total for my master's comps compared to weeks for others, and somehow still passed, I've submitted assignments late and most professors simply tend to accept them, it doesn't have to be my best work, it just has to be something). And so, instead of actually sensing desperation, even that motivator has appeared to where off. Hence, why I am sitting on CD at what is now 2:55 AM, typing this thought.

I guess I really had five main goals in writing this, and so if you're still with me, thank you, and if you were to actually give me specific and easy ways to check some of these things (since clearly I'm not that persistent, and I have tried counseling sessions), I would be truly grateful, because while (as the opening paragraph showed I'm not a complete failure, I just feel I have so much more potential to achieve wonderful things in this life and beyond if I am able to turn myself around.

1. For those of you who are theologically or religiously inclined, what specifically did you do to develop a relationship/improve your faith in God, or if not, what else did you do ensure you were meeting the needs of the people around you/what gave you your purpose? (I'm a Christian regardless, but looking to grow in the area of my love for God and others. I don't want to waste my life away searching random stuff on the internet, I want to be the best eventual husband/father I can be)

2. Are there any scheduling tools that any of you would suggest in terms of planning important events or places you have to be for the week? Especially recently, I have been poor in that regard, and I still know that I have so many people I intended to contact and didn't a massive email folder, and have even embarrassingly missed appointments, even for things as serious as class or work.

3. Same question, also for developing a general weekly schedule, ones that have worked particularly well for any of you? I feel it would be helpful to set aside specific blocks of time for all things in my life (including internet browsing, which in short doses, is actually a positive thing), and all the other things in my schedule. But then, having the discipline to keep that schedule too. Like for example, a feature I found on my computer that could block sites so that I wouldn't procrastinate on them. That turned into looking for new information and sites to browse, using my phone for internet, and reading books instead.

4. Also another similar thing and for prioritizing (without necessarily abandoning a separate list of less significant items for during the week.), but still having a clear set of goals, and having them laid out in a way that is not overwhelming to complete.

5. I am registered under an IEP, and have a disability for my fine motor skills (which is essentially the fact that I have poor handwriting, and can't hold a fork. However, apart from that, I think my social/cognitive functioning is relatively on par. I don't believe I have Asperger's, because I am much more socially in tune I feel than others I have met who have it. However, I do think it is possible I potentially have ADD or OCD, though I can't even speak to whether it might just be a general addiction to information (if that is a thing).

I would really appreciate it if you made it through all this, and were willing to provide me with some feedback on solutions that I could use to go about changing my life for the better. Has anyone else dealt with any issues that are similar to this?
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Old 03-02-2015, 04:40 PM
 
Location: Mid-Atlantic
27,845 posts, read 26,448,443 times
Reputation: 34841
Is there a CliffsNotes version?
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Old 03-02-2015, 11:03 PM
 
Location: Greater Orlampa CSA
4,451 posts, read 3,522,631 times
Reputation: 3121
Lol true. Well I suppose I can be pretty long winded. Brief summary:

College student in graduate school approaching graduation from doctoral program . Variety of work experienced with mixed success.

Extreme difficulties focusing . Tendency to waste entire days away browsing internet/reading/other ventures with nothing to do with classes or career . Severely cuts into social life, quality of work completed , and even just basic living things, like sleeping.

Looking to address five main concerns:

1. Finding purpose/peace in my social life/spirituality. Cultivating a relationship with God/having increased inner peace.

2. Whether or not it is disability or addiction (or both), and corrective measures that have been observed or taken by others

3. System for listing events/ meetings I have to be at. (Any that work particularly well)

4. System for prioritizing; and ensuring that time is on task.

5. System for schedule in what I do throughout the day to make sure everything important gets done.

6. Any other advice thoughts or wisdom you or anyone else has to share .
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Old 03-05-2015, 12:08 AM
 
Location: Greater Orlampa CSA
4,451 posts, read 3,522,631 times
Reputation: 3121
Bump. Please, if anyone can help, I would appreciate it a lot. I desperately need help restructuring my life schedule right now. The thing is also (that actually doesn't help), is that everyone I try to talk to about it doesn't handle it well, says I am making too big a deal/excuses/I'm just not disciplined. And they also all seem to think that I have everything together since I'm this "doctoral student", who "works out a lot", "well rounded interests", "socially personable" etc. No one seems to take notice or care about the fact that it is literally crippling for me. I don't know how though, because it is now Thursday and I can say I have literally not done an ounce of schoolwork this week.

Please someone, if you are aware provide some suggestions . Or direct me to someone who will.
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Old 03-07-2015, 07:13 AM
 
Location: Greater Orlampa CSA
4,451 posts, read 3,522,631 times
Reputation: 3121
Bump.
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Old 03-07-2015, 01:42 PM
 
2 posts, read 1,180 times
Reputation: 10
Default My long lost sibling!

Hey Cleve! You sound just like me (except much younger and rather more successful). I too am a highly ambitious information junkie with extreme procrastination issues who stays up all night. I am here to tell you that there is hope for you, and it's actually going to be pretty painless. I'm writing out a nice long answer to match your nice long question, so give me a while and I think I can help. :0)
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Old 03-07-2015, 04:39 PM
 
Location: Greater Orlampa CSA
4,451 posts, read 3,522,631 times
Reputation: 3121
Thank you! I really appreciate that. And I'm certain you are very successful and accomplished as well! What I've learned is that everyone really does bring so much to the table. I am sure there is plenty I could learn or do that would be more like yourself, and if I did I would be a better person for it. I sincerely look forward to your response!
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Old 03-08-2015, 01:56 AM
 
2 posts, read 1,180 times
Reputation: 10
Default My thoughts on your letter

Okay, here I am. Sorry it took me so long. I had to go deal with a few real life things that popped up.

So Cleve, I have to agree with your other people and say it sure sounds like you’re doing great and have your head on straight. It sounds like you’re missing three things though:

Rest, rest, and rest.

You need margin in your life. Imagine trying to read a lot of text without margins on the paper. The white spaces define and contain the letters, give your brain space to organize what it’s seeing, and give your eyes places to pause and regroup. White space helps you know what order to read blocks of text in and what importance to give each block. It gives you stopping places and lets you know when one thing ends and another begins. It doesn't sound like you have a lot of white space.

Margin in life is time that is not allocated—you just use it to breathe and to think and to listen. You get it by eliminating some of the clutter that steals your attention and energy. (Some, not all because a little clutter keeps life fun.) And you keep it by regular judicious use of the word no.

Your body and brain need some regular time to process everything. When you don’t get it, everything you’ve crammed in just gets stuffed into whatever nooks and crannies are available and pretty soon you can’t deal with anything because there is just too much. Then you start feeling desperate and frenetic, you lose your energy and passion, and you devolve to procrastination and avoidance (and by avoidance of course I mean internet :o). You need margin. Here is my solution:

God established Sabbath days in ancient Hebrew times, and margin was one its purposes. The root meaning of that word is simple: cease, desist, rest. Everyone was to stop working, including servants or slaves, the work animals, even the ground itself. Every seventh day was a Sabbath, every seventh year the land was left unused to rest, every 50th year debts were cancelled, property was restored, people were set free. The Sabbaths were looked forward to and were enjoyable and a great blessing. Since there wasn’t anything that had to be done, there was time for intimacy with family and friends and God. Understand that I’m not talking about making sure you get to church on Sunday when I talk about Sabbath—while that may be admirable, it’s not the heart of it. There is great theological meaning in the Sabbath that is worth discovering and understanding, but for this, just think about rest.

Here are three ideas:

1. You could give yourself a sabbath rest in your workouts. Once a week, go out but don’t run. Do something less strenuous and calmer than usual, and don’t make improvement or fitness your goal. Instead, let your body just enjoy moving easily and being healthy. For this session, leave all your devices at home and don’t listen to music. It’ll just be you and God so talk to him. You’ll want to tell him a long list of all your troubles, but don’t for this time. Don’t pray for anyone, nothing like that. Just take a walk with him and see what happens.

The first time I did this, it was really hard to just be still. I was quiet for a bit, and then it got to be too much so I asked God, “So. How is everything going for you?” It was such an absurd question to ask the God of the Universe that it surprised me and I began to laugh. And in my spirit it was as if he leaned close to me and laughed too, merrily and tenderly, like we were two best friends sharing a silly thought. That little moment was a delightful gift of acceptance and affection that he gave me just because we had time for it.

2. Consider giving yourself a sabbath from school for a short time. Think about it. You’ve been going to school non-stop for 18ish years. I mean holy cow! You’re already at a doctorate at 23! I know that is a big part of your identity, but what would it hurt if you took a break for a year? If a year seems too much, just do a light load and take 1 or 2 classes for a couple of semesters. You could use the freed-up time to give your fiancee the gift of your time and your presence, which would definately help get your marriage off to a great start. A year is not long really. The fields in Israel got a year’s rest every seven years, and came back more productive and much healthier for it.

3. Read the book! First thing each the morning if you can for a bit. Or take a small Bible (printed preferably since is harder to be distracted when there are no buttons to push) with you when you run and stop halfway to read for 20 minutes. You’re brain will noodle on what you read for the rest of the day.


Some more thoughts:

Embrace your personality:
The things that are flaws when you are under stress and things are out of control are the very same things that are great strengths when things are right and God is in control. So for instance, your tendency to not stay on task is messing things up now, but that same trait straightened out means you can be flexible and change course on a dime when needed. Look at your weaknesses and recognize how they can be strengths and then look for paths and practices that use those strengths.

Side note: You ARE a renaissance man—its in your character. But renaissance manliness is a lifelong thing. Don’t strive for it, just let it unfold as you go.

On reaching your goals:
I was a skydiver for a few years when I was in my 20’s. One day someone put an x on the ground and did a contest to see who could land closest. I couldn’t hit it. Finally I asked one of the guys, “What’s the trick?" He made a few jokes but finally said, “This is how you do it. When you’ve pulled the ripcord and are under parachute, you look for the target and steer toward it. Immediately, while you’re way up high, you ask yourself, 'Am I going to hit the target?’ If you think you’re going to overshoot it, you pull the brake cords to slow down or zig zag. If you think you’re too going to land too short, you let off the brake cords and fly straight. Then you immediately look at the target again and do the same things, and you repeat that all the way down.” Such a simple answer, but it totally worked. And I can apply it to my life for just about anything. I don’t know about you, but I get all gung ho about adopting systems, get them all set up, work hard at them for about two weeks, and then my enthusiasm peters out and I can’t remember what I was so hopeful about. I like the freedom of just keeping my eye on the target and adjusting as I go. And it helps me when I keep things simple and loosely structured.

On procrastination:
Tell yourself you only have to work for 15 minutes. You can do anything for 15 minutes. Ask, "what is a small first thing that I can easily do?" I am a graphic artist, so for me its usually creating a layout page to the right dimensions, setting the margins and other settings, dumping whatever text or images I have into a pile to the side of the page, and saving it all to a folder in the proper location on my computer. After 15 minutes my timer goes off and I’ve given myself permission to do something else, but what usually happens is my brain is now engaged and has become interested and I want to continue. Getting past the inertia by taking tiny first bites is key for me.

Making lists, by the way, is one way I procrastinate. Just the act of writing the list gives my brain a feeling of accomplishment and relieves the need to actually DO something. I don’t know if you are as free-range as I am, but one thing I do at work rather than making a long list all at once is to tape a piece of paper up, and jot my to do’s randomly on it as they occur. Once a day or so I look it over to remind myself of what I still need to do, scribble out whatever is done or no longer needed, and when the paper is full I transfer any thing left over to a new page and start fresh.

Maybe change up what you’re eating:
Cut carbs. Don’t obsess, just drink less or no soda, much less bread, less things that are white. Eat protein, some vegetables and fruit, and fat (yes, saturated fat—its actually good, not bad.) You’ll feel better, cope with stress better, and get better sleep. I can’t believe how much better I’m doing since I decided not to actively seek out salads anymore. That was a major surprise.

On success:
Let go of the need to be successful at everything, and just be successful at some things. Perfectionism is fun, but boy does it kill margin. No matter how good you are, there is not enough time in your whole lifetime to be successful at everything. I used to live by “If a thing is worth doing, it’s worth doing right.” Now I know that SOME things are worth doing right, and other things are just worth doing. So pick 2 or 3 things you are currently engaged in to do really well, and for everything else, mediocre is perfectly adequate.

On finding the right position:
It’s a heckuva lot easier to climb a 20 foot ladder that has 12 rungs than to climb one that has only two. If you find that the position you’ve been training for so diligently is not materializing, take the job in the mail room and watch for opportunities to move up. It’ll happen.

On scheduling:
If you don't have an iphone, get one and use Siri. I just tell him (mine has a male voice) “Remind me at 3 pm on March 20 that I have a two hour appointment with Bob at 3:15.” I get a reminder, can have Siri do extra reminders for additional times, and I can have him add the appointment to my calendar. In the morning, I use the pull down thingy and it has all my upcoming appointments for the day. I hate hate hate having to keep track of stuff and keep a calendar--I don’t know how I lived before Siri.

I hope there is something here that you can use and that it helps. Toss out anything that doesn’t fit and keep on keeping on. Look to the Lord for all things.

Last edited by Mollyak; 03-08-2015 at 03:10 AM..
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Old 03-09-2015, 03:50 PM
 
Location: Greater Orlampa CSA
4,451 posts, read 3,522,631 times
Reputation: 3121
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mollyak View Post
Okay, here I am. Sorry it took me so long. I had to go deal with a few real life things that popped up.

So Cleve, I have to agree with your other people and say it sure sounds like you’re doing great and have your head on straight. It sounds like you’re missing three things though:

Rest, rest, and rest.

You need margin in your life. Imagine trying to read a lot of text without margins on the paper. The white spaces define and contain the letters, give your brain space to organize what it’s seeing, and give your eyes places to pause and regroup. White space helps you know what order to read blocks of text in and what importance to give each block. It gives you stopping places and lets you know when one thing ends and another begins. It doesn't sound like you have a lot of white space.

Margin in life is time that is not allocated—you just use it to breathe and to think and to listen. You get it by eliminating some of the clutter that steals your attention and energy. (Some, not all because a little clutter keeps life fun.) And you keep it by regular judicious use of the word no.

Your body and brain need some regular time to process everything. When you don’t get it, everything you’ve crammed in just gets stuffed into whatever nooks and crannies are available and pretty soon you can’t deal with anything because there is just too much. Then you start feeling desperate and frenetic, you lose your energy and passion, and you devolve to procrastination and avoidance (and by avoidance of course I mean internet ). You need margin. Here is my solution:

God established Sabbath days in ancient Hebrew times, and margin was one its purposes. The root meaning of that word is simple: cease, desist, rest. Everyone was to stop working, including servants or slaves, the work animals, even the ground itself. Every seventh day was a Sabbath, every seventh year the land was left unused to rest, every 50th year debts were cancelled, property was restored, people were set free. The Sabbaths were looked forward to and were enjoyable and a great blessing. Since there wasn’t anything that had to be done, there was time for intimacy with family and friends and God. Understand that I’m not talking about making sure you get to church on Sunday when I talk about Sabbath—while that may be admirable, it’s not the heart of it. There is great theological meaning in the Sabbath that is worth discovering and understanding, but for this, just think about rest.

Here are three ideas:

1. You could give yourself a sabbath rest in your workouts. Once a week, go out but don’t run. Do something less strenuous and calmer than usual, and don’t make improvement or fitness your goal. Instead, let your body just enjoy moving easily and being healthy. For this session, leave all your devices at home and don’t listen to music. It’ll just be you and God so talk to him. You’ll want to tell him a long list of all your troubles, but don’t for this time. Don’t pray for anyone, nothing like that. Just take a walk with him and see what happens.

The first time I did this, it was really hard to just be still. I was quiet for a bit, and then it got to be too much so I asked God, “So. How is everything going for you?” It was such an absurd question to ask the God of the Universe that it surprised me and I began to laugh. And in my spirit it was as if he leaned close to me and laughed too, merrily and tenderly, like we were two best friends sharing a silly thought. That little moment was a delightful gift of acceptance and affection that he gave me just because we had time for it.

2. Consider giving yourself a sabbath from school for a short time. Think about it. You’ve been going to school non-stop for 18ish years. I mean holy cow! You’re already at a doctorate at 23! I know that is a big part of your identity, but what would it hurt if you took a break for a year? If a year seems too much, just do a light load and take 1 or 2 classes for a couple of semesters. You could use the freed-up time to give your fiancee the gift of your time and your presence, which would definately help get your marriage off to a great start. A year is not long really. The fields in Israel got a year’s rest every seven years, and came back more productive and much healthier for it.

3. Read the book! First thing each the morning if you can for a bit. Or take a small Bible (printed preferably since is harder to be distracted when there are no buttons to push) with you when you run and stop halfway to read for 20 minutes. You’re brain will noodle on what you read for the rest of the day.


Some more thoughts:

Embrace your personality:
The things that are flaws when you are under stress and things are out of control are the very same things that are great strengths when things are right and God is in control. So for instance, your tendency to not stay on task is messing things up now, but that same trait straightened out means you can be flexible and change course on a dime when needed. Look at your weaknesses and recognize how they can be strengths and then look for paths and practices that use those strengths.

Side note: You ARE a renaissance man—its in your character. But renaissance manliness is a lifelong thing. Don’t strive for it, just let it unfold as you go.

On reaching your goals:
I was a skydiver for a few years when I was in my 20’s. One day someone put an x on the ground and did a contest to see who could land closest. I couldn’t hit it. Finally I asked one of the guys, “What’s the trick?" He made a few jokes but finally said, “This is how you do it. When you’ve pulled the ripcord and are under parachute, you look for the target and steer toward it. Immediately, while you’re way up high, you ask yourself, 'Am I going to hit the target?’ If you think you’re going to overshoot it, you pull the brake cords to slow down or zig zag. If you think you’re too going to land too short, you let off the brake cords and fly straight. Then you immediately look at the target again and do the same things, and you repeat that all the way down.” Such a simple answer, but it totally worked. And I can apply it to my life for just about anything. I don’t know about you, but I get all gung ho about adopting systems, get them all set up, work hard at them for about two weeks, and then my enthusiasm peters out and I can’t remember what I was so hopeful about. I like the freedom of just keeping my eye on the target and adjusting as I go. And it helps me when I keep things simple and loosely structured.

On procrastination:
Tell yourself you only have to work for 15 minutes. You can do anything for 15 minutes. Ask, "what is a small first thing that I can easily do?" I am a graphic artist, so for me its usually creating a layout page to the right dimensions, setting the margins and other settings, dumping whatever text or images I have into a pile to the side of the page, and saving it all to a folder in the proper location on my computer. After 15 minutes my timer goes off and I’ve given myself permission to do something else, but what usually happens is my brain is now engaged and has become interested and I want to continue. Getting past the inertia by taking tiny first bites is key for me.

Making lists, by the way, is one way I procrastinate. Just the act of writing the list gives my brain a feeling of accomplishment and relieves the need to actually DO something. I don’t know if you are as free-range as I am, but one thing I do at work rather than making a long list all at once is to tape a piece of paper up, and jot my to do’s randomly on it as they occur. Once a day or so I look it over to remind myself of what I still need to do, scribble out whatever is done or no longer needed, and when the paper is full I transfer any thing left over to a new page and start fresh.

Maybe change up what you’re eating:
Cut carbs. Don’t obsess, just drink less or no soda, much less bread, less things that are white. Eat protein, some vegetables and fruit, and fat (yes, saturated fat—its actually good, not bad.) You’ll feel better, cope with stress better, and get better sleep. I can’t believe how much better I’m doing since I decided not to actively seek out salads anymore. That was a major surprise.

On success:
Let go of the need to be successful at everything, and just be successful at some things. Perfectionism is fun, but boy does it kill margin. No matter how good you are, there is not enough time in your whole lifetime to be successful at everything. I used to live by “If a thing is worth doing, it’s worth doing right.” Now I know that SOME things are worth doing right, and other things are just worth doing. So pick 2 or 3 things you are currently engaged in to do really well, and for everything else, mediocre is perfectly adequate.

On finding the right position:
It’s a heckuva lot easier to climb a 20 foot ladder that has 12 rungs than to climb one that has only two. If you find that the position you’ve been training for so diligently is not materializing, take the job in the mail room and watch for opportunities to move up. It’ll happen.

On scheduling:
If you don't have an iphone, get one and use Siri. I just tell him (mine has a male voice) “Remind me at 3 pm on March 20 that I have a two hour appointment with Bob at 3:15.” I get a reminder, can have Siri do extra reminders for additional times, and I can have him add the appointment to my calendar. In the morning, I use the pull down thingy and it has all my upcoming appointments for the day. I hate hate hate having to keep track of stuff and keep a calendar--I don’t know how I lived before Siri.

I hope there is something here that you can use and that it helps. Toss out anything that doesn’t fit and keep on keeping on. Look to the Lord for all things.
First: Thank you so much. The fact that you understand and are rooted in your Christian faith is fantastic. I seek to follow your example. That really is what I need to do, and getting a response like this is helpful with only a week to go before my comprehensive exams. As a wise fellow named Martin Luther once said, "I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer". This really is true, and what I need to look to.

I do have Siri, and so that will be helpful for me over time. Thank you!

Very true. I'm willing to take any job available. I just hope it will be one within higher education. I don't care if it is bottom rung and only earns 30K a year. I just want to actually be working, that's all : )

Very true. I will call it my "Three Things, Three Things" rule. In one group, I will place things for that day. So that right now for me would be Comps, Comps and Comps (this week at least).
Then the other things which are critical to me are God (so reading bible/spending time in prayer), My Fiance (making sure I am honoring her/making feel special), and Health (Eating, Sleeping, Personal Hygiene, and Working Out). That still sounds like a lot, but that probably makes things a little easier.

I will do that! I really want to strive to be healthier and just have that as an overall lifestyle.

I will also give myself a 30 minute rule, per day. For 30 minutes at any point during the day, I can visit these forums, browse the internet/dream about traveling, check scores on ESPN, etc. After that, I quit. I will even set a timer!

Also, the 15 minute rule sounds like a great idea, I will apply that as well!!

That's a good way to approach it, I will try and get a paper like that to manage my priorities! Brain inertia. I will have to remember that.

"I like the freedom of just keeping my eye on the target and adjusting as I go. And it helps me when I keep things simple and loosely structured." Good thought, and an awesome real-life metaphor!

These are all amazing suggestions, I think I am going to copy and paste the rest, and put it prominently in my room.

As to rest, I completely agree with you. However, I am currently already scheduled through June, when I take the second portion of my comprehensive exam on the 23rd. After that, I may wait a year to actually start my dissertation hours.

Again, I wanted to thank you from the bottom of my heart for this, and I believe that applying your principles really will be what I need to turn my life around for the better. I sincerely thank you again.
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