academic work

Why Drywalling is Good For an Essay

One of the hardest parts of being a student for me is the lack of measurable progress day to day in my work. Sure, the computer file grows larger and the word count at the bottom of the screen is higher  as the days wears on, but nothing seems more frustrating to me than devoting the greater part of my day to reading articles or picking away at my laptop and having nothing tangible to show for it at the end of the day. Don’t get me wrong, I am completely satisfied when that final draft of a paper finally is printed, but there is nothing better than the fast and measurable progress of a mindless task.

In other words, I clean my house a lot when I have a paper to write.

Despite being raised in a conservative Mennonite family where the women have clearly defined roles, my parents instilled into me the idea that I was capable of anything and were careful not to label chores or activities as male or female, which I am grateful for.

Which is why, yesterday, I cast aside my laptop, reading and papers and embraced something more measurable, dusty and sweaty than paper crafting – hanging drywall at my sister’s new house.

It was only in the realm of enjoyable for a few hours, but I returned to my paper with a dusty face and a clear head. 
Do any of you need to have tangible, measurable progress while you are working on an academic assignment? If so, what is your activity of choice?

5 thoughts on “Why Drywalling is Good For an Essay

  1. I'm the same! Yes, churning out a couple of pages of my dissertation is great, but because it can take ages to get to a defined “achievement” (like a chapter finished, or the whole thing), I need a more instant (and frequent) sense of accomplishment. My #1 go-to for that is cooking and baking. It's easy to do as I read and write, it feeds me and my partner, and it gives me a creative outlet over at my food blog.


  2. ah yes. This is why I knit. Two hours working on a writing project can yield negative 500 words. Two hours of knitting last night and I have a slipper finished!


  3. Me too. I have hobbies: yoga, photography, piano. It is possible to make an effort in each of these areas that requires skill and concentration and practice, and I'm always a little bit better, and often have something to show for it.

    I used to do a lot of reno work (plaster patching, painting, hanging pictures and hooks and stuff) but I find that nearly all consuming, so I start to do that *instead* of the writing.

    As for measurable progress in my writing, I mark the amount of time I spend doing it: because like Prof. Askey says, sometimes working on your writing makes the document in question shorter! So I track effort on that front ….


  4. My old roommate loved essay season because it meant our kitchen would be clean (or, as clean as a kitchen can be when it is used by 8 students and a cat). Cleaning is an incredibly satisfying procrastination activity. There is measurable progress in cleaning my apartment, and when the cleaning is over it is much easier to work at my counter or on my couch without piles of dishes and clothes getting in my way.


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