Skills in academia

(Some references and thoughts on topics I have given workshops on.)

How to (not) Procrastinate

More people than you think display procrastination behaviour, i.e. putting off a task that we know needs to be done, even if delaying it will likely make it worse. If this is bothering you, there is a wealth of blogs to be found on the subject, but you could also have a look at one of the following books – I especially recommend Tim Pychyl’s little guide:

  • Burka, J.B., Yuen, L.M. 1983. Procrastination: why you do it and what to do about it now. Perseus Books, Reading, Massachusetts. → second edition 2008!
  • Ferrari, J. R. 2010. Still Procrastinating? The No Regrets Guide to Getting It Done. Hoboken, N.J.: Wiley.
  • Pychyl, T. A. 2013. Solving the procrastination puzzle. Tarcher.

Tim Pychyl’s procrastination lab also produces podcasts on this topic, which explain the science behind procrastination. There is also this funny and insightful explanation, and just for fun, this field guide to types of procrastinators.

The opposite, precrastination, can also hinder you. It is “the tendency to tackle subgoals at the earliest opportunity — even at the expense of extra effort”. This NYT article on ‘the early bird‘ explains how.

The impostor syndrome

If you’re feeling like a fraud, feeling like you don’t belong in the academic world, or thinking you’re not good enough and going to be found out, you might identify with what is described as the ‘impostor phenomenon’. Academics struggle with this more often than the average population, because most of the time, our task is to look at what we do not know yet! It’s equally common for men and women in academia. There are tons of information and help to be found about this on the internet, but my best advice would be: read the book ‘The secret thoughts of successful women’ by Valerie Young. Just buy it and read it.

Otherwise, these were the posts I found clearest and most helpful:
Geek Feminism
How graduate students can fight the impostor syndrome (Inside Higher Ed)
Unmasking the impostor (

And some fun charts, just to laugh about your own thoughts!

Abstract writing

It is important to get your thoughts on paper in a clear, convincing and concise way, in order to interest readers and get accepted into conferences. Here are some top tips for how to do it:
Johan Rooryck & Vincent van Heuven’s tips for abstract writing
LSA model abstracts
Maggie Tallerman’s advice