The Funny Thing About Productivity

The summer break has passed and so too has most of my free time. Normally, this would upset me but this summer was a bit different than the last three or four.

I have never taken any courses over the summer break, initially because my college had made cuts and consequently did not offer any of the courses I need over the summer semester, and I have kept to this rule even after I transferred to a four-year university. I took the summer breaks, and the free time they afforded me, as an opportunity to focus on personal projects, such as reading books, writing for my blog or other things, and social engagements.

I typically get a lot done over the summer but last summer was a different matter. I wasn’t nearly as productive as I usually am during the summer break and I failed to  complete, or even begin, some of the projects I wanted to work on. I felt very disappointed in myself but, on the other hand, I got plenty of rest and saw friends and family frequently. Sometimes the simple things are enough.

Productivity is a funny thing. I know a lot of it comes down to commitment and perseverance. You can’t just wait for inspiration to motivate you. You have to motivate yourself. I often find this to be a problem for me and a especially difficult problem during the long summer break. The other problem is the illusion of time. Whenever I have lot of time on my hands to do things I tend to put them off, thinking I can always do it later because I have so much time, but in actually, this lends itself to perpetual delay.

Oddly enough, I often feel like I can get more done during the semester, when I have more work to do and much less time for anything else, and I believe this comes done to how I perceive time. Because time is strictly limited and I want to work on personal projects, it is easier to motivated myself because I can’t really procrastinate, and when I need ti put off my personal projects it is typically for very sound reasons. I can be productive even when I’m not working on my personal projects because I have also important work to do for school but during the summer I don’t have this to fall back on.

Next summer may be  a different story. One of the courses required for my major includes a internship, which I suspect (but have as yet not confirmed) may be off-campus, and rather than take it during the Fall or Spring semesters, where the demands on my time and energy are strong, I may take it during the Summer semester. I don’t know whether it will help to improve my productivity but I intend to make it so.

Moving On …

After four challenging years, my time at Orange Coast College has come to an end. Tomorrow I will be completing my AA and receiving my degree. Next year I will be continuing my education at CalState Fullerton and working towards completing a BA in psychology.

When I began college, I had many reservations about my academic potential but my experience has taught me that I was quite wrong. Many of my elementary and high school instructors were very discouraging and it had a profound effect on me but, as many of us come to realise, high school is just awful.

Over the last four years I have learned a lot, not only in an academic sense but in a personal way as well. Perhaps that comes naturally to psychology majors. The again, I have met some psych majors who seem to absorb little or fail to understand how what they learn has practical application in their own lives.

I’m very grateful for the education I received from OCC. My instructors, with few exception, were thoroughly committed and competent in their work. Not only have I come to better understand human psychology in its many complexities but I have learned to think scientifically and to overcome my once debilitating social anxiety.

My elementary school educators misunderstood my anxiety, misidentified it a Attention Deficit Disorder, and placed in a remedial class. My experience was eerily similar to Bart Simpson’s in You Only Move Twice. The stated purpose was to help me catch up academically with the other students but by going slower than everyone else. In actuality, I never did. It wasn’t until I entered high school, when I could no longer be covered by the program, did I managed to develop academically. Unfortunately, the transition was intense humiliating and traumatic. I consistently underperformed other students, not because I was stupid but unprepared by my previous years in remedial classes, and came to see myself stupid and undesirable.

Thankfully, at that is now in the past. I graduated high school with an average GPA and have gone on to perform very well in college. Well enough that I can count myself a member of Psi Beta, the National Honors Society in Psychology for COmmunity and Junior Colleges. By graduating, I’m not only moving on to fulfilling my next educational goal but moving beyond my old fears of failure and living up to the unreasonably low expectations my past educators had for me. I am happier now than I have ever been in my life and I owe much of it to my experience at Orange Coast College.