Thursday, 4 July 2013

Can't Cook, Won't Cook*

*[title of popular TV show from the Nineties. Replace 'cook' with 'work'.]

this morning i am depressed. when will i ever finish?... why has this been so hard?... (i know, i know; the procrastination bible says you are not supposed to say things like 'when will i finish?' instead, you are supposed to ask: when can i start?... i know this, and therefore i know what to do. but it all just feels so... blah. how i wish i could have done the whole thing differently. for a start, i wish i had worked LESS. i wish i had understood the advice of that Guru, back in the first week of term, who gave a talk on 'Happiness in Academia', and who told us that it is better to work for three hours every day than to work for eight hours one day and be exhausted the next. i think of all the things i could have done with my time if only i'd listened to his advice... (the thing is: i was convinced that i was somehow way behind everyone else and way behind the perfect image of where i thought i should be  - 'should have read this book by now, should know this already, should be able to write better than this'... and that's why, ladies and gentlemen, i did not believe the guy when he said 'three hours a day'. i thought, yeah, sure, that's great advice, but i can't do that, can i, seeing as i have just wasted this day doing X and therefore tomorrow i MUST put in at LEAST eight hours... 

ah, the stupidity of the young. if only you could turn back time.

would i want to go back in time, and confront that sense of vulnerability over my own ignorance again?... not particularly. that bit was horrible (writing things and getting it wrong; getting told that my references were all wrong, and struggling to learn the correct way of doing it; trying to understand things...) i am not sure i would put myself through that again, unless i had some magic formula this time (such as is available in the Procrastination Bible) for coping with my lack of confidence.

i wish i could write all over Facebook today: I FEEL DEPRESSED. when am i ever going to finish this PhD?...

i need to get better, somehow, at getting up and doing stuff straight away. i have been awake for at least two hours now (it is 9), and i have not started work yet. that's two hours of footnoting, or just rereading, or just... anything. two hours which might already be behind me.

but i just didn't want to.


  1. I love your blog, and I really feel your pain. I'm having a similar kind of morning.

    I also just want to say that I really appreciate how you say that 3 hours a day is really all it takes.. I do find myself having those rare days where I sit down and do 10 hours of work, but if i'm honest, those very infrequent days are usually bookended by a week of no work. I just can't wrap my mind around the people I know who claim to do 8-10 hours of work every day. Are they lying? Manic? Better academics/students than me? Do I care?

    When are you going to submit? I'm supposed to do it at the end of the feels like I will never get there..

    good anonymous fellow phd hata on the interwebs is rooting for you.

  2. well hello there! :) i feel like i should put in a disclaimer: i actually find it bloody hard, some days, to even put in the paltry recommended three hours' work. (somehow, some days just slip by...) but at the same time, i feel that this is good advice, insofar as none of us should be beating ourselves up if we don't manage more than 3 hours a day. i guess the logic of all those people who recommend this is something along the lines of - the less you do, and the more leisure time you give yourself, the more you feel like getting back to work. (maybe the 8-10 hour people are having quality breaks, and it helps them?... or do the just love their PhDs?... it's all possible.)

    i was hoping to submit at the end of this month. it ain't gonna happen. i am hoping to submit at the end of next month. (will it happen?... not sure. how do you put on that final burst of creativity and energy, that final spring at the end, which makes you finish faster? i'm sill working on that one; will report back if there are results! :)

    right now i am trying to write my introduction/ polish all the chapters/ submit a draft of PhD to my supervisors. somehow, i feel like this is impossible. (maybe i shouldn't aim to have the whole thing finished, before it has to be finished?...) and yet it has been done. i've seen it. we will succeed. anyway, THANKS for your comment - am rooting for you too! xxxx

  3. we are thesis twinsies! (vom)
    I have a similar 'deadline' and am also introduction writing/polishing what I have.

    I am also wasting a shit ton of time falling into internet wormholes, hanging out with my dog, and randomly deciding to clean underneath the oven and other boring domestic chores I would normally never do.

    I don't think the introduction will be so bad, since I've made a brief list of those things I want to sketch out at the beginning. And my subject is kind of obscure, even for a phd, so the lit review won't be so bad. It's the task of polishing my turd into a diamond that is the hard part. After the 8 million year cycle of handing shit it, having it ripped to shreds, doing it over, having it manhandled again etc. it's impossible to believe that this cycle will just stop. Especially when I know it isn't perfect, because that simply ain't achievable.

    So I guess the big problem for me (dunno about you?) is that after the appointed time or level of progress, the hazing bullshit torture just ends? And you pass?

    sorry for the epic length rant.. keep on keepin on, I look forward to reading about your progress!

    1. haha. I have replaced cleaning under the oven with Outdoors Swimming (so at least if it IS a displacement activity, it's a nice activity, it keeps me fit and healthy and contributes to my overall well-being, so s'ok.) but yes, i still waste time staring into space/ googling pictures of celebs (bad!). my problem is that there seems to be so much to DO. so many critics who need to go into my introduction, whose arguments i must synthesize (and understand) and whose lengthy book titles and publication details still need typing out in a tidy fashion in a footnote... just looking at that stuff makes my wrist hurt in advance. but as you say, it doesn't need to be perfect, it just needs to be done. and, you know, somewhere in those computer folders labelled 'Outtakes from Chapter' (full of bits of manhandled chapters) there is a goldmine of ideas. and yes, we will finish, and it will just... end. (AAAAAAGH!!!)

      your introduction sounds very doable. keep at it, step away from the oven, sidestep the dog, get off this website (sorry, my fault; I am also going to), and go do a half hour! x