Thursday, April 24, 2008

Assignments and deadlines

When was the last time that I uniformly distributed a lengthy assignment over the entire duration that was available before submission. Seems like an occasion so long ago that I am unable to recall it. Or more likely, the answer is a simple no, never. For every time I knew in advance that I had to turn in an homework or write up a summary of an article before a deadline, I have never worked on it at a uniform pace. In fact, I have never even come close. It would be more accurate to describe a typical scenario of this sort as work that begins with fits and starts, hardly makes any progress at the half-way point in time, drifts around without any definite direction or clarity for a while, then enters a phase where the magnitude of the task ahead looms large and some of the early parts to it (roughly 25% ) is done with some seriousness and a sense of purpose, then strangely enough slows down again after which, the the leftover fraction appears like a mammoth challenge of race against time. This final stage is the most frenzied period that is characterized by a desperate sense of urgency that leads to desperate means to achieve the goal. Sleepless nights (as if insomnia does not screw me over sufficiently), lots of caffeine (mostly a distraction and less of real benefit), rapidly flipping through notes and texts for hints, exchanging status-of-progress-information with others stuck with the same problems, handwriting getting more illegible with every word, lots of vague guesses thrown in, writing out solutions that are either incomplete or so strange that I have no clear idea of what it all means are some of the several complex responses that are generated by an infallible defence mechanism. Ultimately, I'd be barely satisfied with my effort and even on the best days I probably would have glossed over a dozen doubts that would be propped-up in my head while working it. I have to confess that this activity has more in common with last-dash to meet deadline in corporate world than in an academic setting where one professes seeking objective truth and knowledge. What a shame! Despite all promises to myself that the situation would be dramatically different every time, the events unfold in an eerily identical manner. It reinforces my belief certain aspects of life always remains the same. Always.

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