I am busy. VERY busy. A combination of assignments to write, a career to develop, clinical and managerial duties to fulfil, deadlines to meet, and various fantastic events in my personal life have all coalesced into one big "to-do" list. Normally I work well under pressure (in fact sometimes that is the only way I can work), but I am concerned that at the moment I am drifting:
The Yerkes-Dodson curve
The graph above summarises my predicament very accurately. If given a single project, I can leave it until the last possible minute and then work really intensely to produce something which is not only satisfactory but often of very high quality. This seems to be because I need the "arousal" induced by an impending deadline in order to perform at my best. This is clearly a result of self-conditioning over the last 20 years.
The problem arises when I am confronted with many such deadlines (or one deadline for a very complex project) at the same time - my arousal level increases but I can't continue to increase my performance. What then happens is I end up procrastinating and not actually getting any work done.
How do I climb back up the curve?
I have several (4 to be precise) assignments, all due in ASAP. 3 of them are already very late. The only way I can manage is to be confronted by a series of micro-deadlines, each of which massively increases my stress/arousal and gives me just enough of a performance boost to get each project done. I therefore propose a series of micro-deadlines this week, beginning tonight:
Essay 1 to be completed before I sleep tonight (Monday).
Essay 2 to be started on Tuesday night (late as I have a full day of more interesting things planned tomorrow which is likely to involve at least half a bottle of wine) and completed by Thursday night.
Essay 3 to be started on Friday morning and then put on hold on Friday evening, with a view to resuming on Sunday night to complete it (I will not let it get in the way of existing weekend plans to see family/friends).
Essay 4 (the BIG and final one) to be commenced on 4.4.11 and completed by 10.4.11 at the latest.
Then I'll be able to enjoy my 2 week holiday, and buy an iPad 2 when I get back as my reward.