Wednesday, September 03, 2008

(at least) 5 things that help me write my PhD

Lately I have felt on a slippery side of procrastination. I could feel it getting out of control but I couldn't find a way to stop it. Usually the 'panic button' (thanks SC) approach will save me. This approach is that you give yourself, or someone else gives you a deadline and as it approaches too fast you push your panic button and get your ass into gear.

This time it just never kicked in. I felt I was wading about up to my ankles in readings, literature reviews, minor data analysis. I really needed to just dive in- right in, head first and get swimming (writing).

Here are five things that helped me get out of this ( it continues to be a struggle!):

1. Don't beat yourself up about it. Just get help, as soon as possible. Talk to your supervisor as soon as possible. Be really honest with yourself and them about how much work you are doing. Keep checking in.

2. Give yourself seriously do-able chunks of work to do each day. Starting with the next half an hour. Write it down, plan each tiny step by step. Work for half an hour. Get a cup of tea. Plan the next half an hour... etc.

3. Don't try and write in a way that is effectively edited/complete/perfect on the first run. Just sit down and let your creativity go. Don't monitor yourself to much, just write. You can check it later.

4. Give yourself, or 'protect' some serious writing content time. Where each day you just write content of your PhD (creatively) for a blocked out 3 - 4 hour stretch- turn off your phone/other errands/demands/interactions. People tell me about 5 hours a day is all you can manage of this kind of concentration consistently.

5. Organize your mind and your workspace. Deal with emotional issues honestly and carefully. Don't let them build-up and distract you. And keep your data and drafts organized. This REALLY is important.

5a. Do something creative/active/fun a few times a week ( like paint/dance/swim/read novels).

5b. If possible: go skiing.

Don't give up!
oh yeah


Blogger bulanjdjan said...

Honest and brave post, Soph. Sounds like you've really worked through some of the hardest phases of the slump. These experiences and the skills needed to get out of them aren't exclusive to research (study), but are perhaps more accentuated in this field compared to others.

A friend once told me that to do a PhD wasn't so much an intellectual challenge (though it's certainly that!) as a personal one - to confront your own stuff everyday while toiling on your own to make something new and different and clever, really, it's make-or-break stuff. Yeah, go easy on yourself!


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