I have till the end of September to work full time on my thesis. If I’m not done by then I will have to carry it as a hobby, while working in full-time employment. This isn’t a great state of affairs, so I need to do as much as possible over the next few weeks. Ideally I should have a complete or nearly complete draft by then. It’s do-able, but the difficult thing about it is that it’s a long-distance run, and I am most definitely a sprinter.
Anyone who’s been close to me recently will know that the thesis is always on my mind, and that I won’t be living life to the fullest until it is done. So I need to get going so I can get on with enjoying my life.
The difficult thing for me is that I am too easily distracted from what I’m meant to be doing, and also that I keep forcing myself into counter-productive corners, by sitting at my desk for 12+ hours without a break, thinking that it’ll make me productive. It doesn’t.
What I need to do is refrain from the activities that put me in the wrong frame of mind to do my thesis, and engage in the activities that put me in the right frame of mind. I’ll frame all this in the style of commandments. Infringement of a commandment will result in me giving £100 to charity, guide dogs I reckon. The commandments are in place until I submit my thesis.
So, here they are:
- I may only check and reply to my email 3 times a day
- It’s email, if it was urgent they would phone you
- Have only my friends’ blogs in google reader, and only visit and comment at most once per day
- Over time I’ve built up a healthy collection of RSS feeds, some of which I manage to convince myself are relevant to my research. Get rid of them, and don’t replace them.
- Write no more than one blog post per day, and never check the stats
- For some vain reason I feel compelled to check my stats to see how many people are visiting my blog. No more.
- Take a break of at least 30 mins within every 4 hour period
- During the break, relax. No internet, no TV or reading. Either play guitar, go for a walk, or do nothing. This should get me in the right frame of mind.
- If you don’t feel in the mood to work, don’t engage in displacement activity
- If I’m trying to work, but can’t, just take a break, and don’t do anything at all until I’m in the mood to work. Boredom will bring me round eventually
- No non-thesis related computer use other than that which is discussed in 1,2 and 3
- I should be using my spare time to do things which are relaxing and enjoyable. I’m already going to be spending so much time at my computer, I shouldn’t be extending it.
- Barring injury, go for 4 runs (or equivalent) per week
- Sitting doing a thesis is really sedentary, so doing more exercise would be good for me
- No reading about, talking about, or even thinking about the economy
- If you catch me breaking this one, which will be a tough one to stick to, it’s £100 to these guys.
- In fact, no following the news at all, it’s just a distraction
- No caffeine, nicotine or alcohol
- I’m not a particular fiend for any of these things, but I feel it would be useful to have something to look forward to at the end of it all, and it would be good to have a real clear head. I will make rare exceptions to the alcohol one where I am expected to drink socially, e.g. at my Cousin’s wedding in September, but not just when I’m down the pub.
I will add to these commandments as and when I develop new bad habits standing in the way of my thesis completion. Wish me luck!