PhD Diary – July 2021

A little late on this one, whoops! You would think that a lack of organised meetings or structures would help me get the most work done. But as this past month has demonstrated, is that without some sort of pressure to get something done I tend to fall into the trap of procrastination. As of this article’s publication I have under two months to submit my major review, a key sign of my progress and capability to see this project to its completion. I have yet to have all the pieces in place to start bringing this together. It is too easy to fall off the wagon of productivity when it is your responsibility to track your work. This has been far harder now that many academic staff are taking some time off to recuperate after what has been a stressful year. Not having that external accountability or monitoring is something that I still struggle with, which I pointed out a few months into this project. It seems that work is still needed to improve my self-monitoring, which I will remedy with a more traditional work schedule.

Despite the increasing pressures from approaching deadlines, I am taking time to keep my stress levels down to a manageable level. A reasonable amount to give incentive to work, but not too much to cause me to worry or cause any grey hairs. I have enough as it is! One of the things I have learned during my past five years at university has been that people work and learn in a range of ways. For me, I tend to work best when there is a reasonable level of pressure and expectation which is a key motivator for me. Having that awareness that my actions are one of the only things between success and failure helps push me to get started each day. As many people may relate to, once I get started its easy to continue going but is that first task in the day that seems to be hardest to start. The thought of “you have X number of days to get this done” provides enough pressure to get me started on more productive work.

In all honesty, I questioned my decision to maintain this diary. It seemed somewhat needless and tended to go on weird tangents. But its days like this that I am thankful that I did, because writing my thoughts in these posts helps me get motivated for the more technical work. Having a smaller trivial task as the first thing you work on makes getting motivated easier and doing these once a month helps me get back on track if I ended up slacking near the end of the month. These posts are a great writing exercise which I recommend any new Postgraduates or even Undergraduates to try. They do not have to be extensive articles. A short candid exploration of your thoughts and feelings helps organise your thoughts and keeping your mind active, getting you motivated for further work.

As for me, getting a new job alongside my studies has helped keep me stimulated. But the challenge is to transform this excitement into productive efforts, and that all starts with the motivation to work. I hope that with the tighter deadlines going forward I will have more to talk about and show. Whilst this will be an eventful next couple of months, I cannot wait to get stuck in.

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