Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Welcome to Procrastinationsville, population you (Part 1)

A big (and, I feel, under-discussed) issue in the lives of postgraduate students. As a sacrifice to you, dear readers, I am now going to air some dirty laundry from postgrads at the Sydney campus and tell you about some of our favourite time-wasting activities. However, I must insert here a disclaimer- have you got an impending deadline? A paper due? A talk to write? Exams to study for? Marking to do? An actual job? If so, DO NOT read on. You have been warned!

1. Number one would have to be the internet. For the avid procrastinator, this offers a wealth of ways to whittle away the weeks*. Here are a few of my faves:
News websites.
Reading blogs. If it’s related to your field then it’s still work, right? Writing blogs (yes, like this one) is also another good one.
Silly celebrity websites eg (the psychologist postgrads love it. “You don’t know psychiatry. I know psychiatry!”).
Ebay. Sure I need a wireless mouse/second hand motorcycle/lava lamp/pair of those hot shoes Britney wore last week, only in suede/...
Email. You know this already, but this is a MASSIVE time waster. Particularly when you check it in the morning, answer all of the new ones, then check back every five minutes to see if anyone’s replied yet.
Youtube, especially when it’s semi-related to your research (geneticists, have you seen the new BioRad PCR song? Funny in a molecular-biologist-humour kind of way).
Facebook. I don’t use this (clearly for a good reason as I am already an accomplished procrastinator) but going on the amount of time I hear people talking about it, I’m assuming that this tool would also help you to waste a good chunk of your day.
icanhascheezburger. I don’t like cats. But I do love this website. Every now and then they have a captionated cat photograph that makes me kill myself laughing (tip: only the evil cat ones are funny and the captions have to be spelt wrongly). Amazingly enough, this coincides with the other postgraduates the office wanting to kill me for laughing when they are trying to concentrate.

2. ‘Helping’ with other students’ research. We have to look out for each other, so why not spend a day labelling a million sample tubes for a friend? Naturally they’ll then help you out too when the time comes. Last month, I experienced the ultimate in procrastination, when I ‘helped’ Hannah Salvin with her research into canine behaviour. She spends several hours each week taking a dog through a ‘sand maze’ with buried liver treats in order to test its memory (about 30 times per dog!). Feeling she might need some human company during this, I went with her to clip and unclip the dog from its leash. Clearly I was an integral part of her research team.

Right! I really have to go and do some work now. But come back next week to read on...

*writing alliterative sentences is also a form of procrastination

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