I need to work. I can’t work. I need to work. I can’t work.

I have a number of things on my plate that are due in the next few months or sooner: that companion piece chapter I mentioned awhile back, a book review essay (on not one, but two books, one of them a collection of essays), the texts I’m re-editing (that is, going over someone else’s editing, doubling checking everything in terms of house style, format, and philosophy) for an anthology for which I am the co-general editor, not to mention class syllabuses and blackboard sites.

But oy!  Ever since I got back from London (where I worked really hard, but I’m still not sure where that damn project is going! ack!), I’ve had the hardest time getting back in gear. I’ve done that fake productivity thing where I clean and organize everything (though that was a legitimate goal for my sabbatical year, at least) but I’ve nearly run out of things to do that with. In my home office, I now have six file cabinets of gorgeously color-coordinated files in jewel tones with neatly typed labels on both the file folders and the hanging folders. And I’ve weeded out my closet and one of my dresser drawers, put my huge collection of t-shirts (now used for dog-walking and hanging around the house) in cubes on a closet shelf, and carted off car-loads of stuff to resale shops and Goodwill. All that’s left are my sock drawer (oh. my. god. what a crazy mess of mostly black socks!) and a big pile of teaching-oriented stuff at the office (where I have promised myself I will not redo the color scheme of the freakin’ files). And even this new blog space is part of the organizing frenzy (as is my recent reorganization of how I do e-mail which is way too deadly dull to explain to you). Oh yeah, and Bullock and I are redoing the main bathroom (damn, should’ve taken before pictures! Well, I’ll take in-progress ones), which necessitates weeding and organizing there, since we’ll have less storage space after.

But I need to do some actual work-related work! I’ve got deadlines and people depending on me! So what’s with me? Got any helpful hints to help kick-start my scholarly self? What says the hive mind?

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6 thoughts on “I need to work. I can’t work. I need to work. I can’t work.

  1. Tonight (now even), make a small list of things to do for tomorrow (very general is ok… like, “find stuff for project X, make to-do list for it”). Tomorrow morning, right after breakfast, work for at least 30 min. If you can work more great, if not, finish your cleaning and organizing and aim for an hour or more the next day.

    Really, just do it. 15 min. Even if you don’t want to. Getting started is the hardest part.

  2. I find that if I break the workload down into parts it starts to seems more manageable and I’m less likely to be overwhelmed. Pick one of the projects and then break that project into its constituent parts (e.g. read book that needs to be reviewed; read next book; take notes; draft review, etc).

    Also, was just reading this today and thought it had some really interesting ways to think about work and productivity:

    http://chronicle.com/blogs/profhacker/four-quick-ideas-about-work-thoughts/34533

  3. I’m going to be no help at all, because I’m actually jealous of all of your fake-productivity organizing work! I’ve just been sorting through a couple of boxes of stuff from the basement — boxes that I packed up in my St. Martyr’s office when I left there and that I haven’t looked at in 5 years! — and I found it simultaneously boring and overstimulating, but I’m really glad I did it. I’d be even more glad if I had fancy color-coded folders as you do! But good luck getting back to “real” work.

  4. It doesn’t sound like lack of organization is your problem, so I won’t tell you about my favorite app for organizing to-do lists. What you need is either a) a vacation where you get away from the work long enough to miss it and/or have a clear head about it; or b) a schedule where you sit in front of the computer for a set time, whether or not you get anything done, in order to get through this dry patch. I suspect that the hard work of London means that a) is the likelier antidote. I know I’m exhausted!

  5. Thanks for the hints everyone! NicoleandMaggie, thanks especially for reminding me of that helpful little “trick” — it saves the getting organized/puttering time in the a.m. (by doing it the night before, that is). And TriPartite Academic, you are totally right that I need to do that with these projects and haven’t done that yet, in part because I was so focused on the London research before now.

    Erick – I probably could stand to be more *mentally* organized, which is to say that you’re probably right that I need *real* time off (not office-cleaning time off).

    And What Now? – They’re not color *coded*, just color *coordinated*. See where my priorities are? 🙂

  6. Hey you! Get outta my head!

    Seriously, how are you reading my mind? And could you please color-coordinate all my files for me, pretty please?

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