If there is one academic pastime I would like to give up, it would be fretting.
I am referring to worrying and being vexed, not corrosive fretting of metals and other materials, though it does sound somewhat similar in its ability to "wear and corrode." In this case, I am referring to the wearing of one's nerves and the corrosion of one's sense of well-being.
I have spent far too much of my time worrying about all of the work I *wasn't* getting done. Vacations, eating out, watching TV, relaxing with friends, reading the newspaper, attending events on campus--each of these has been invaded by the fretful thoughts that I just wasn't doing enough.
This feeling of fretfulness is bad all the time, but it is even worse when I am being especially unproductive. I start listing in my head (and sometimes on paper) all of the tasks I should be doing, but I never take the next step and map out what I will work on and in what order. Instead, I eye the list and fret. It is a terrible feeling, and it doesn't help at all. In fact, it makes matters worse. I begin to feel both guilty and incapable of acting on the list.
So, instead of fretting my night away, I have decided to ignore the undone tasks tonight. I will eye the list tomorrow morning, prioritize the tasks, and start setting aside times to complete them--especially the writing that I have been avoiding. I will make a plan to be productive.
Once I start working on the tasks, I know the fretting temporarily will subside. For now.