Saturday, June 05, 2010

Organisation and the PhD

I think doing a PhD is mostly about being well-organised. I mean, it takes a certain above-average intelligence (does not demand as much great intelligence as in the past, what with grade inflation), but even the most intelligent person cannot write a good book if she is not organised. I'm not saying that I am any expert; in fact, I would say that I'm basically a failure and that I need to improve more. However, here are a few things that have helped me lately:

* Keeping a list of goals, and planning out how to stick to them.

A few months ago, I went to my university's second of two inductions on how to do a PhD. It was basically practical stuff on writing well, organisation, new technologies, how to successfully pass our transfer exercises, etc. One workshop was about planning for the PhD, such as when certain chapters will be completed and contingency plans for when life gets in the way. I drew up a plan for each stage of my PhD process and writing the dissertation and immediately felt better.

* Doing a little bit each day, no matter how small.

As a PhD student, I am often overwhelmed with finishing the dissertation and the writing process, and making it perfect. This means that I can sometimes not write or read as much as I would like, because I live in fear of it not being perfect enough. It was a huge relief to be OK with whatever work I do accomplish, as long as I complete my small goals.

I'd love to have others share their opinions.

3 comments:

jason said...

To your first point, I would add - revisit and revise your plan periodically (every few months, say). Don't be anxious about saying "this goal is unreachable, here's a more practical revision." On the other hand don't revise just to give yourself breathing room on a deadline. Revising your timeline realistically--but firmly--and managing the psychological fallout(feelings of deflation, inadequacy, etc.)is a major part of dealing with goals.

Sammee said...

Thanks for the info, Jason! Oh, and I'll be in Cincinnati to grade AP Music Theory exams next week!

jason said...

I moved away from Cincinnati last summer and miss it. I think June is one of the best looking months there. If you get time, have someone direct you to the Findlay Market downtown.

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