Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Do you know that feeling when you are really looking foreward to something and then, for whatever reason, you begin to dread it and it gets worse and worse until all that bubbly happiness is gone and all that remains is a wish for time to slow down so the date doesn't approach?

I frequently find myself in these situations. I plan a project, sign up to something, make a promise or in some other way take on a challenge. First I am generally all excited until I begin to thing about it and make a start at accomplishing my goal. Suddenly, I realise what I got myself into and all the (partially imaginary) problems ahead form one long list and pile higher and higher until I don't even know where to start any more. So I put it off, until the deadline ( if it exists ) approaches rapidly and suddenly it all ends in a mad rush. Most of the time, it turns out not to be that bad in hindsight and I could slap myself for not starting earlier.

Perfect example from the last few weeks: I signed up for a summer school. I am still all excited and really looking forward to it but only as long as I manage to ignore the fact that (*ominous voice on*) THE PRESENTATION is rapidly approaching. I was given a topic but not just any topic. I was given a topic I have no idea about, which is completely outside my normal field of study. I was told to give a presentation on the theoretical aspects of "Innovation" (whatever that may be). After a deep breath and some near panic attacks I thought I would avoid the old trap and get a head start. So I began to read the first (and only) literature reference. It was reasonably interesting. Did you know that half the world's scientists are alive today? That some of them apparently publish thousands of papers in their career? (The question of how many of their PhD's die of exhaustion in the progress was not answered) Neither did I. Unfortunately, apart from being only mildly interesting, the book turned out to be entirely unrelated to the initial question. So I got part of the way through, set it aside and promised myself to continue tomorrow. After several days of banning it from my mind completely, I picked it up, read a few sentences and put it back down. From then on, it's presence loomed on my bedside table, invading my dreams and stealing my happiness. (Okay, I might be exaggerating slightly)

I am leaving for my summer school on Sunday. I have 3 more days to do this. Today, I finally regained enough energy to break from my frozen state of panic ( think scared bunny... ) and go to the library in the search of somewhat more useful sources. I carried home two imposing looking books, shamefully hiding a small copy of "A Very Short Introduction to Innovation" inbetween. I have read about half of it in one evening. It's really interesting! It comes with a manageable list of "Further Reading". I already know what I will be talking about Why on earth did I not do this earlier?

And every time I say the same thing in hindsight: It really wasn't that bad. Actually, it's quite a lot of fun.

Note to self: There are a few more projects where it is time to get over the panic hurdle. Might I mention the cloak for the Mister and the question of what you want to do with your future? Remember, making a start is the worst.


  1. "shamefully hiding a small copy of "A Very Short Introduction to Innovation" "

    Sometimes things simply turn out to be not so interesting as they seemed at the beginning. Then such a very short book is a good way out of te situation ;).

    "Unfortunately, apart from being only mildly interesting, the book turned out to be entirely unrelated to the initial question."

    This is not your fault ;). Moreover the mass production of science and books simply creates a lot of books not worth being read.

    I would read the short book and then fill the presentation with my own thoughts and let the listeners discuss these. This will give IMHO a much more interesting presentation than trying to extract some sense of unrelated stuff of the first book.

    As a student I was also a last minute guy and I felt comfortable with this until I found it too stressful. Now I really rush immediately into a work an get it roughly done in the first rush long before the deadline. Then from time to time I rethink, rework and polish this. This gives much better and satisfactory results.

    Also I very rarely read a book from cover to cover. Typically I skim it quickly through and decide then, if it is worth beeing studied.

  2. Den Posts hattest du ja genau zur richtigen Zeitpunkt veröffentlicht.. Ich habe drei Tage später mein Bachelor-Kolloquium gehabt und nichts vorbereitet gehabt... Jaja.. der innere Schweinehund..


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