PhD Candidate Anna Kent: Reflections on Procrastination

AnnaKentUpdatedProfileImageAnna Kent is a PhD candidate at Deakin University. Her thesis focuses on Australian scholarships for Indonesia 1960-2015. Anna reflects on her Higher Degree by Research experience.

18th February, 2016


Procrastination. It really is one of my favourite words. It rolls off the tongue so easily. Onomatopoeia perhaps? In the last few months procrastination has proven to be not just a lovely word, but an enemy; an often interesting and engaging enemy, but an enemy nonetheless.

It is not hard to see why I can sometimes become overwhelmed by procrastination. A PhD is an enormous, long and amorphous project. I am still at the very start of that, so that amorphous and changeable, and un-pin-downable nature is almost crushing. I am one year in, pre-colloquium; still reading, thinking, and trying to pin it down. And because of that, the lure of putting it off and reading that article, following the latest happenings on Twitter, baking a batch of muffins or checking my email (again) is easy. And because the deadlines seem so distant, it feels almost consequence free!

But as we all know, deadlines move faster than you think, and so colloquium now looms less than five months away. Perhaps David, my supervisor has recognised the procrastinator in me. Late last year he said to me: ‘try and get your ethics done before the end of summer’. After procrastinating for a good few weeks, I decided to get on with it. But then I found myself facing big questions I didn’t feel ready to answer. Questions that were asking me to break down my big, amorphous project into a thirteen page form. Guess what I did in response…

My procrastination became more diverse: looking after kids, Christmas shopping and cooking, anything but sitting down and thinking about how to fill in the form. Until the end of summer got closer and closer, my daughter went back to school (taking away that excuse!) and I realised I had to do it.

Turns out, it wasn’t really that hard: taking the time to think about what I wanted out of this part of my project. I had to recognise that this is just one small part of a much bigger project, and even my ethics application is not right straight away, I will get there. Helpfully, I was also able to see a completed and successful ethics application from which I was able to borrow an approach. So today, a full 10 days before the end of summer, I submitted my ethics application. (I’ll try not to think about how much earlier I could have submitted it if I hadn’t procrastinated…)

Next step is my colloquium document, another opportunity to become overwhelmed! But with the help of small steps, not turning on Twitter, useful tidbits of advice (please feel free to share your procrastination avoidance techniques) and only making a few batches of muffins, I hope to get there by June.


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