Mind Over Body

James Proclaims (4)

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As I’ve mentioned in one or more of my previous ponderous posts, I’m currently in the process of attempting (but not really succeeding) to write the dissertation bit of my MA.

In truth it’s not actually my MA.

Not yet.

I need to write a dissertation first.

I also have a full-time job, because I haven’t yet worked out a way of not having a job and still being able to pay my mortgage.

Even for someone who is motivated and academically inclined, writing a dissertation alongside having a full-time job is quite hard.

And it would certainly be a stretch to describe me as either motivated or academically inclined.

I’m not stupid (or possibly I’m so stupid that I don’t realise that I’m stupid) but academia and I have never really gotten on too well.

Occasionally I have shown the potential to be an academic. Throughout school, my undergrad days and even at times on this MA course, I have demonstrated that, when I put my mind to it, I can achieve grades at the more impressive end of the scale. However, these flashes of brilliance are all too often followed by mediocrity and in truth I’m far more likely to flirt with grades at the less impressive end of the scale. I normally do enough to pass, but quite often I do ‘just enough’.

Throw in a new(ish) baby (not literally obviously – I’m still a relative novice at this parenting malarkey but I’m given to understand that throwing a baby is not generally considered wise. Especially if bathwater is involved apparently) and time is a commodity I don’t have much of.

I do enjoy looking after my daughter. She can be a little demanding, often in the early hours of the morning, but she’s mostly delightful and for someone who hasn’t actually mastered the art of speaking, she has quite a lot to say, and she says it with such feeling and passion that I’m not sure actual words would add much to her soliloquies.

In order to be able to do my job to an acceptable (but rarely  exceptional) level and to be able to grind out a dissertation (that will achieve the minimum pass mark) by April, and to be able to enjoy the company of my daughter (and sometimes my wife, although in truth Mrs Proclaims are currently operating on a shift pattern with regards childcare and are rarely conscious and in each other’s company. We do enjoy a regular verbal exchange at around 3am when debating over who gets the honour of listening to our offspring’s latest early-morning orations) something has had to give.

And that has very much been exercise.

Not that I’ve ever been any more athletically inclined than I am academically inclined. But I generally do try and keep fit enough that my tendency to indulge in foods that might be considered insalubrious do as little damage to my long-term health as possible.

I’m not sure, even at my fittest, that I’ve ever really managed to get the balance of diet and exercise entirely geared towards optimum wellbeing, but in normal times I do enough good to at least mitigate the bad.

At the moment, though, the balance is swaying very much towards the bad. In attempting to secure a qualification that I don’t really need (and at this point I’m not even sure I want) I am sacrificing the short-term health of my body for the long-term benefits of my mind.

Although it’s not really clear that having an MA will bring any benefits to my mind.

Other than the fact that, assuming all goes well, from April onwards I’ll able to smugly boast to anyone that will listen that I have an MA.

When all is said and done, it’s not actually that much of a boast.

Nonetheless, and in spite of a total lack of comprehension as to what it is I’m bragging about, I’m sure that my daughter will greet the news with her usual infectious enthusiasm.

 

 

 

Time Mismanagement

James Proclaims (4)

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Sometimes I wonder if I am the personification of procrastination. If I were to look up the definition for procrastination in a dictionary, I would genuinely not be surprised to see my own face grinning back at me.

If procrastination were an Olympic sport, I would probably win the gold medal. If I ever got around to competing of course. Which I wouldn’t because I’d be too busy re-organising my sock drawer. I’m just that good.

If it were possible to make a living from procrastinating, I’d certainly consider getting around to one day applying for a role doing just that. I’d be a ‘pro’ crastinator.

Today (or rather yesterday, for that is when I wrote this) is absolutely a case in point. I have spent the last year or so avoiding writing the dissertation which will finally see me complete a MA course, which I have been doing for longer than is remotely reasonable. Because I’ve been doing it part time, I’ve been able to take my time, but I actually completed most of the modules several years ago and have been delaying the dissertation for as long as I could. Mostly because I didn’t want to do it.

But I couldn’t put it off forever and so, a year ago, I committed to starting it.

And then I ignored it.

Until it was really too late to complete it by the deadline.

I did have some mitigating circumstances – not least the arrival of my beloved (but very distracting) daughter.

There were other things too. Nothing massively interesting, but quite a few things happened last year to create a perfect storm, which prevented me from being able to give the dissertation the time it deserved.

The university agreed that I had a quite a few extenuating circumstances going against me and so they granted me an extension.

Which was nice of them.

But really, since December, I’ve had plenty of time to look at it.

And I haven’t.

And it’s getting a bit embarrassing now.

Thanks to the extension I still have ample time left to get it done, but my lack of progress is starting to get more than a little worrying.

My daughter remains the primary distraction. She’s genuinely adorable, but she’s quite loud, which can make focussing on academic literature quite difficult. Academic literature is rarely a compelling read and I can think of lots of things I’d rather be doing than ploughing my way through reams of journal articles on a subject I’m only claiming to care about for the purposes of getting a qualification that might help my career (but in all honesty might not). In contrast spending time with my offspring currently ranks as my absolute favourite thing in the world to do. It would take a lot of willpower to sit in my makeshift home office (aka the spare room) and ignore her if I couldn’t hear her, but if’s she awake, she’s generally making some kind of noise.

Mrs Proclaims, sympathetic to my plight, did take her out today.

Which left the house nice and quiet and gave me the time and space I needed to finally make a start on pulling some of my incoherent thoughts and ideas together and maybe write the few thousand words that I need to convince my supervisor that I might actually pull this off (he’s been remarkably patient thus far but I think he’s pretty much given up on me).

Instead I did lots of other things.

None of which needed to be done.

One of them was writing this.