Sine Qua Nonsense

Calm Your Academic Nerves

Today, many faculty members and graduate students in our department and in communication departments elsewhere are racing against a 3 AM NCA deadline. Others, and perhaps some of the same people, are trying to get papers ready to submit to AEJMC by April 1. It was even crazier back in November when pretty much anyone who does research was preparing for ICA.

Deadlines are a fact of life in academia. It can be very stressful. However, have no fear. We have some very smart people here to give us advice about handling everything. Unfortunately, because of my own deadlines I did not have any time to contact anyone about their coping strategies. I can’t let that stop me – I have a Sine Qua Nonsense deadline, after all – so I’ll just make stuff up.

“As graduate director, I am most stressed when the clock is ticking and I have to make admissions decisions,” Harmeet would probably say. “I take three deep breaths, and then imagine what different students would add to the texture of the department. I try to visualize a fine texture and that makes me happy. I also relax by pretending that all students meet their own deadlines and finish their degrees in the allotted time.”

“When deadlines stress me out, I just find a mirror and recite the words of the wise Stuart Smalley: ‘I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me,’” Annie would say. “Just kidding, I’m Annie Lang. I never get stressed out, though doggone it, people do like me!”

“Well,” Rob would say while being hooked up to electrodes in the ICR. “To relax, I juggle, play the mandolin or ice skate. When the situation is really bad, I juggle several mandolins while skating. If that doesn’t help, I teach students how to use psychophysiological equipment and serve as their guinea pig.”

Students can also supply good advice. “Sometimes, the thought of stopping your work to calm down makes things worse,” I am sure Josh would say. “You don’t want to lose precious time. I recommend listening to music while you labor away. You can also listen to other soothing sounds, like waves, chirping birds, chimes or me saying random words. I can record myself if you would like.”

“Just play with my dog Harry and everything will be fine,” would be Mona’s coping strategy. “There’s nothing more stress relieving than seeing him wear the cute little booties I knit him.”

Ryland probably likes to imagine time as an Excel spreadsheet he can play around with. “The less time I have left on a project, the more I can think of it in terms of numbers. That makes me happy.”

My personal advice is that you should take a break, have a drink, read some funny stuff online, see what your friends are up to on Facebook, and put everything off until the last minute. If that’s what you’ve been doing, and today is literally that last minute, do not waste your time on anything but your submissions. Woops, I guess I should have written that in the first line!


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