It has certainly been a week of challenges after submitting my first draft to Adrian last week. As the submission deadline for the first draft drew closer, my inner researcher came to the fore – resulting in some very late, but very productive nights of study. This week has been a bit slower and more challenging than last week, as the transition from detailed writing to focused editing has begun. It has also proven to be the aftershock – fatigue, tiredness, lack of concentration and stress have all crept into the equation – but i am doing my best to take care of myself and keep calm and focused.
While I have found myself having some really productive hours each day this week, sadly they have often been followed by lulls of 2-3-4 hours at a time where nothing seems to flow or make sense. This has made me feel anxious and tense, and led me to have doubts about the continued progress of my work at times, with less than a month to go until the final submission.
One method that has helped to alleviate some of this pressure, which i have mentioned here previously but have only really implemented heavily this past week has been printing out the draft-level versions of my work and editing them on paper. Adrian is a big advocate for this approach, and while i doubted its effectiveness at first – i have noticed that it does really save a lot of time working through the edits of each paragraph – as it is easier to complete your edits with pen and move on to the next paragraph, rather than mulling over one paragraph on the screen for hours on end striving for perfection before moving on.
I have also benefited from discussions with my peers about our progress in these anxious times, and also the direction and reassurance offered to me by my supervisor. It’s good to keep in mind that there are others in the same position as me and that we are all working through similar feelings together. We cannot expect more from ourselves that to submit the best work we can possibly submit in the time we have allocated, even if that means that not everything is 100 percent perfect.
Ultimately, the actual writing process of the thesis is rather short, so there is that sense of “race against time” that we need to contend with. I feel that my peers are dealing with this as best they can, and we are having a positive influence on each other.
I have tried to break up the aforementioned anxious bouts with walks, coffee breaks or even sessions where i stretch my sore muscles and try to relax. The pomodoro method i have raved about all semester is also extremely beneficial, but i find it works better when studying with others, because as a group it is easier to keep each other on track, motivated and obedient of the pomodoro method’s break guidelines.
There is an overwhelming amount of work yet to be done, but there are plenty of actions that can be put in place that will help me to do it. I have consciously decided not to overwhelm myself with the pressure of meeting the requirements necessary to qualify for a phd – despite the information sessions that have been offered throughout the past weeks. I have just felt more comfortable using those two hour blocks to work on my Honours thesis and keep dedicated to the present task at hand. I tend to feel most stressed and anxious when i am juggling too many things at once, so i have tried to organise my time efficiently, take things day by day and make sure that i am completing all of the ‘mini-goals’ set for me by my supervisor on a week-to-week basis, so that i can complete honours to the best of my abilities as a researcher.