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Time management, crocuses, and naps
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I went to a time management-for-PhD-students workshop on Monday with huge amounts of trepidation and skepticism, as well as sprinklings of despair. (My time management skills have traditionally sucked, and that's been killing me in the last couple of weeks.) Amazingly, I came out feeling really inspired, hopeful, and confident. It was a good workshop. The advice was great. And it even really helped just to talk to other people and find out I'm not the only one who puts off all my work until a deadline hits me in the face!

The leader of the workshop told me that there are basically two ways of motivating yourself to get work done--either moving towards something nice, or moving away from something nasty. I'm definitely in the second camp, only leaping into the work at the last moment to avoid the hideousness of the consequences if I don't make the deadline...which is a perfectly fine method in terms of getting work done on time, but lethal in terms of stress and burn-out. She had some really good suggestions on ways to switch over to the first method of productivity.

Since Monday, I've been trying to put some of the advice into action, and it's been helping a lot. One of the most interesting (well, to me) things she said was that if you start with the assumption that you won't get everything done in any given day, then you can start out the day by deciding which (for example) three things you really need to get done, as opposed to the ten things that all need to get done (but might or might not fit into the day). That way, you'll get the three most important things done every day, and with luck only lose the smaller fiddly bits of work...which leaves you feeling much, much better than you would if the little fiddly, unimportant bits had been all that you'd managed. I've been making priority lists since Monday, and in the past three days, I've gotten more done than I had in the whole stress-ridden week before that! I've also been doing a time log, which can be embarrassing, but is hugely helpful in terms of self-awareness, and makes me much more reluctant to waste great swathes of time on time-killers that I don't even enjoy (eg., pointless internet surfing).

Meanwhile, the sun is shining and the crocuses along the side of the road have been bursting out splendiferously in purple, orange, and bright yellow, despite having been covered first in wet snow and then in hard frost during the past couple of weeks. They cheer me up every time I walk past them.

This morning I wrote three more pages of Chapter Fifteen in my new novel, and about the same amount in my thesis chapter. I also wrote an abstract for a conference paper, downloaded a summer job application, and rewarded myself with a scheduled nap. :) Time management can be a Good Thing.

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