Tuesday, May 1, 2012

adjustments to the timetable

Recently I admitted to myself that something seems to go pretty wrong since I'm here. I used to be much more productive and organized during my PhD, but here I'm easily distracted, esp. by all the random thoughts in my head. So I decided to put my focus-helmet back on and dig out some of the old strategies which helped so much in the past.
One of my main problems - and this sounds silly now - is the general working culture here. At my former uni I worked mostly from 8am to 6pm, because I was commuting and bound to the timetable of the trains. This external condition structured everything a lot. If you walk in here at 8am in the morning, you'll maybe meet one or two grad students but certainly no postdocs. This was very confusing during my first days at work, but I adapted very fast and by now I come to work around 9-9:30am - even though I know that my most productive time is in the morning and the best thing I can do in the afternoon is a nap.
So this will be adjusted back to the original time schedule and I'll try to come to work an hour earlier, even though I really got used to sleeping very long.
To make things even more complicated I decided to combine this task with a second one, inspired by Tanya’s fantastic blog and the book The Clockwork Muse. I realized how difficult it is for me to find time for my writing, when there is no boss who gives you a deadline and asks for drafts. So I'll test some strategies to get my own self-motivated and self-structured writing going, starting with dedicating some fixed time slots of my working hours to the task "writing" and then working my way through all the posts on Tanya’s blog - maybe.
I'm very excited about these adjustments, eve though they seem tiny and very straight forward - and then we'll see what a quiet office and one more hour of productive morning time can do to my research.


  1. I've found that working with colleagues on projects helps keep me focused for writing. If I tell someone "I'll have a draft of section 2.17.a to you by Thursday morning," even if my colleague is lax about asking me for the paper, my own sense of guilt will force me to stay up late Wednessday night finishing the draft. If I'm working alone, the best solution I've found is to set time apart every week to write. If that fails, I've resorted to having my partner or mother ask me every weekend how many pages I've written that week. The embarrassment usually kicks my butt into gear. Good luck.

  2. yeah, the good old sense of guilt is a very good driving force. I'll keep that in mind! Right now I'm still struggling with task 1: getting up earlier - it improved already, but I'm not where I want to be yet (=