Positive Psychology

Procrastination station

It’s a windy Sunday afternoon, too windy to be outside, so I have no excuse to not be finishing my ProGen assignment. So what am I doing? I’m playing with the Society of Australian Genealogists website. My assignment is a proof argument – an article, or essay if you like, arguing a case for the solution of a genealogical question that is not straightforward. I have chosen the question of the first Riley in Fiji, and as I started writing it I saw how much work I still have to do before I can say I’ve performed a reasonably exhaustive search of all the relevant records.

The relevant records, unfortunately, are ships’ logs and books published by castaways that all have to be found and deciphered and searched for clues. I’ve got two, so far, that talk about my Riley and I may never find any more, so I’m writing about them. The extended deadline is the 30th September, which is getting closer! So much for the reason for the procrastination.

What I’m doing instead (besides writing this) is looking at the website for the SAG. It was developed using Joomla, the old version, by people who are no longer with the Society and so I have to learn enough of Joomla to be able to make fundamental changes to the website without breaking it.

To do that safely I need a copy I can work on, and I’ve always put off doing that until today, when I have something more urgent to do! I guess that’s how procrastination works, and at least I will have done something constructive.

I’ll add progress reports through the afternoon.

[4 or 5 hours later] I’ve given up on copying the website. Joomla 1.0 is no longer supported and I can’t find any way to just copy the whole thing. I can copy the content but it left out the front page (oops!) and all the menus, and the forms were created using a component that hasn’t been supported since 2006. So then I tried copying everything, including the Joomla installation, and I can’t get the 74MB up on the other server.

I’m over it.

I watered the garden in frustration. I’ll stick with Twitter, I reckon!

Productivity update 9 Sept 09

It’s the ninth of the ninth oh-nine. I don’t remember doing anything special on 8/8/88, but on 7/7/77 I was in high school, and we had a little ceremony in the grounds and danced around a tree.

My obstacles today are my extreme tiredness from a headcold and a wailing cat recovering from knee reconstruction surgery who thinks he should be allowed outside.

I had an all-day Australian history symposium today that I booked for but decided not to go as I had too many other things to do, and I’d already had yesterday afternoon on an English research lecture by Michael Gandy, an excellent speaker, and there’ll be another one tomorrow.

Today I’d like to get these things done:

  1. organise for a quick trip out to Kingswood tomorrow – nearly done – I’ve preordered a probate file but haven’t yet organised what I can do while waiting for other records I have to order out there
  2. tweek the formatting on my essay – to put borders around the table and remove the page number from the title page – stuff like that. I’ve given a draft to my supervisor and don’t want to do anything major to it until He gets back to me. Also if I do anything stupid in Word 2007 due to tiredness it maight take me hours to recover from it.
  3. I could work on my ProGen assignment, that was due at the end of August but is now really due at the end of September. This is looking hopeful, as there is not a lot of invention to do, just putting the facts down. I can edit the writing later – it’s always easier to fix something than to start something.
  4. work on a list of talk topics

Or I could take my cat out in the sun for half-an-hour.

I’d just like to point out, to any new or returning readers, that I’m not making these announcements because I think you might really be interested in what I have to do today. The theory is that if I make a public announcement about it I am more likely to get it done; that I will feel more accountable to you somehow.

It may sound silly but it works.

I’d also like to point out the principle behind point 3 – Getting started on an essay or a piece of writing is nealry always the hardest part for me. I get around it, usually, by reminind myself that it’s a DRAFT and it can be fixed later, and will be. There is much less pressure to be perfect when you know you will have to change it.

The important thing is to START WRITING.

Productive progress 7 September

This essay is really getting me down, but I’m on the last stretch. It’s finished, proofread (first proofread, more to come) and formatted to the required standard. I just need to proofread it again and make the table in the appendix fit into the Word format now that it has 4cm margins. 4 cm all around.

And decide whether the diagrams should be the cutdown versions of the full ones, with all the Colonial Office document classes that I cut out of the essay because it was too long and they are not directly relevant to family history research anyway. I am hoping that my supervisor can advise me here.

Today I’m sorting out some client research from last Friday, reconciling my bank account and PayPal account, and planning the rest of the week.

There, I feel better already!