Happy New Year all. Virtual Handshake.
Just discovered a groovy new web comic called Toothpaste for Dinner thanks to Tweeter @Mariancall via @CatherineQ . Well, its new to me anyway. This one is The Creative Process and will cause both giggles and nods from anybody who does anything creative which involves a deadline. This includes writing a paper or submitting a proposal…
We all love deadlines. The usual joke is “I love the whooshing noise as they go past me” which is tres amusant, but the real problem is that we tend to meet them by the skin of our teeth and let them destroy our sanity. As in aforelinked cartoon. (NB WordPress confirms my creativity. In the edit box every neologism is underlined in red. Bizarrely, this is true of “WordPress”. Anyway. Yes. Where was I?)
I have noticed a consistent pattern, especially coming up to observing runs.
- Start work nice and early, in a relaxed manner.
- Two weeks somehow drifts by.
- Make a plan, organise work into sections.
- This isn’t really working and time is passing. Getting somewhat nervous. Realise what you need is a priority list of tasks. Start working down from the top in a firm manner.
- The first task is half done and there is a few days to go. Getting distinctly twitchy. Miss coffee break and grab sandwich lunch but still hard to concentrate.
- Your flight is day after tomorrow. Feeling of desperation building. Suddenly realise got this list thing wrong. Start working up from the bottom crossing off things that aren’t essential.
- Flight is tomorrow. Half list crossed off from bottom. Panic starting. Go back to top and fiercely ask of each item – right, will it be a disaster if I don’t do this?
- Six pm in your office. Standing in middle of room unable to move because pulled in multiple directions, and muttering “not physically possible … not physically possible..”
- Midnight. Suddenly think “screw it, thats good enough”. Immense feeling of relief washes over you and you to go to bed.
- Catch flight, have perfectly good observing run etc. Possibly a few things have to be improvised.
Of course, that last minute improvising thing is a bit tricky when making ESO style Observing Blocks. For the benefit of any ESO staff that may be reading this blog I should of course clarify that I always make OBs in a calm, efficient and timely manner, with no errors. Hem.
Hofstadters’s law: It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter’s law.
—Douglas R. Hofstadter
The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.
—Steven R. Covey
“I always make OBs in a calm, efficient and timely manner”
Well, I’m glad you said that because I was about to pipe all of your OBs to /dev/null!
Actually, I prefer “The Perfect Martini”.
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Seems identical to my preparations for talks at meetings, except the “sod it” point is at 3am in the hotel the day of the talk. Seems to happen no matter how I try to pace myself, probably due to being too optimistic about what I can do before. Reality kicks in in a couple of days before hand.