Last week I wrote a post about SoTL, the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (Check it out). How that post came about is a perfect example of why I wanted to start a blog–personal motivation and accountability. I started that blog post about a week before I actually published it and for that week it kind of just languished in my drafts bin. I knew I should finish it, but I had so much else to do. It’s an important topic, and one that I really am excited about, but last week was unusually brutal in commitments and shear workload. The kind of week where, as they say, a lot of things get kicked down the road.
The problem with sacrificing tasks like that, is that certain things just keep getting pushed and pushed, until weeks and then even sometimes months, go by. I have found this to be especially true for me with things that don’t have firm, externally enforced deadlines. Even the incredibly important things, like writing my research proposal, get push off and pushed off, because other more pressing things keep popping up.
But the thing is, writing my research proposal truly is one of my number one priorities, and so it should be one thing that never gets kicked down the road.
So why is it one of the first things that usually gets pushed?
Because it is largely an internally enforced deadline. The nature of a PhD program is that I am responsible for my own research progress. Yes, I have to report to my research advisor, and with enough time, there would be firm deadlines and repercussions for not meeting those deadlines. But, for the most part, my progress is set by no one other than myself. Which means that that #1 priority of mine, writing my research proposal, is largely enforceable only by myself.
That is why, when other externally enforced deadlines loom—course homework assignments, emails, TAing responsibilities, things that other people are waiting on and that have firm, non-negotiable deadlines—internal deadlines are the first things that end up getting pushed. Even though those can be the most important tasks I have.
This really demonstrates the challenge of independent work, in academia or elsewhere. Having to understand what is most important, and follow through with actually doing it, even when no one else is enforcing you actions and deadlines.
Blogging for Productivity
And that is where SciNatura comes in. Last week was one of those weeks where I was tempted to just push back everything that only had internally enforced deadlines.
The very thing I shouldn’t do.
As I’ve explained, my research proposal is one of those things, but SciNatura is another. Failing to keep up with my new blog would have no formal repercussions, this was entirely my own idea and failing in this endeavor would not get me fired or harm my chances of a future career. But, I have made a personal choice to embark on this journey and I feel very strongly that keeping this blog, and keeping it actively, will help my PhD research and my future career as a professor and environmental scientist. I have internally set SciNatura as one of my important priorities. And so, last week, when I was feeling tired, and wanted to just give up for the day and zone out with some TV, I instead pulled out my laptop and finished that SoTL post I had started a week ago. I felt tired and foggy but I knew it was important to me, and that once it was done and published, I would be happy I did. 30 minutes of mindless TV wouldn’t have made me feel any better. But getting that post out sure did.
That is what SciNatura means to me. It is the catalysis I need to push through those moments where I just want to kick the can down the road a little more.
Those moments where my internal motivation to keep going weakens.
Where my diligence falters.
In those moments SciNatura will help me remember to keep the big picture in mind. To hold those internal deadlines accountable.
To keep pushing.