Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Brimstone and Fire

It is official. I am completely burned out.
I have lost all motivation to finish my project, write my papers or thesis, write in my lab notebook, make freezer stocks or use one more kit of any kind or sort. I do not want to extract, digest, ligate, transform, inoculate or incubate anything.
This downward spiral into the anti-motivation pit all started when I landed a post-doc. position. Just the thought of a new project, in a new lab at a different institution was all it took.
It started innocently enough. I put off those irritating tasks that must be done, but require very little brain activity to accomplish, like colony PCR or DNA extraction. Then I started doing half experiments. For example, I completed a growth curve (in triplicate) and froze away cells from various time points for later analysis and then I just left them in the -80. The samples are fine, but my point is that they are still in the freezer after three weeks.
The situation was only made worse by the fact that my boss marked off three weeks of vacation and out of town trips for the month of August (formerly known as the month I defend my thesis). So now, September is the month. No big deal. I am not upset or anything, but now the fire under my ass that I so desperately needed won't be lit for another couple of weeks.

The last couple of days have gone like this:
I wake up, I feel relatively motivated to go to work. While brushing my teeth I think to myself: I WILL do items X, Y and Z! Then I get to work and sit down at my desk and I revise the plan I formulated while brushing my teeth. Before I generate more information, I should really fill in my lab notebook so I don't get too far behind. BUT, before I can accomplish that, I decide that what I really, really need to do is analyze the data I currently have on hand. After all, it is data.

Rinse, repeat.

I know that I will return to my productive self and I hope it happens sooner rather than later. Maybe just admitting that I am a lazy bastard will help. We’ll see how tomorrow goes.

1 comment:

chall said...

I hope you have found some motivation and can feel productive. I recognize the feeling though, and it is hard. It's just to hang in there and realise that some day soon the motivation comes back and then it's just to jump on the train.

Good luck with the thesis!