Sunday, October 21, 2007

Sunday morning - progress report

I'm up ridiculously early for a Sunday to work on the manuscript from hell for a couple of hours before we leave for the christening of our friends' son. I obviously didn't finish the manuscript a week ago as I'd unrealistically promised myself (I've got to learn to judge the actual time I will need to do some work, soon), but I have made very good progress in the past week. I'm the type of person who loves schemes and schedules and calendars and planning, and I used to make overviews of deadlines and workplans for myself all the time. Somehow this habit has slipped recently with so little time available to work on research at all, and instead I've taken to vague goals of finish this paper in October and the next one in December etc. But this obviously doesn't work. For one that kind of planning goes without paying any attention to what is actually in my real-life calender already and second it's just too unstructured and too easy to dismiss. So earlier this week while battling with another bout of procrastination I sat down with a calender and tried to make a realistic estimate of when I could work on what, which deadlines I have to meet and remembered to leave in time for comments from co-authors, finishing the field reports, organizing the samples, meetings etc. I'm pretty sure this system will break down at some point, but if I can keep it going for a while, it might offer some support in terms of short term deadlines to make sure I'm not overwhelmed to the point where I do nothing.

So far it has been successful (counting since Tuesday). I've worked on the manuscript every day, put in four hours yesterday and hopefully between one and two hours today. Yesterday I finished some illustrations, which have been hanging over my head for years, and actually it was no big deal. I think the remaining illustrations can be done in about two to three hours, so maybe today, and then the text should be easier to handle.



At 1:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congratulations! I've done this too --- gone back to reading. It's so glorious. A few weeks ago I started reading a book (!), taking notes, and such, and it was wonderful. But then despite my best intentions, everything fell apart. My schedule is unbalanced until December 3rd but then I would like to schedule reading time into my work day as well. I think it's the only way to do it.

~ Sleek

At 9:10 PM, Blogger saxifraga said...

You're absolutely right. I'm still surprised how much I got out of this little excercise. It's like I've finally started working again in a way I used to a long time ago. It feels so familiar and yet so long ago. I don't know where it suddenly came from but I'm so glad it finally came back. Today I went through my field notes to figure out what I actually need to do to progress with this research, listed some simple and doable tasks and found an empty binder I'm going to put everything in as I go along. This was exactly the way I worked on my dissertation, but the knowledge of what works for me in order to be productive seems to have escaped me when I received the degree.


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