I’ve fallen off the Masters bandwagon in last week or so and it has been a real struggle to get back on. I decided to embrace that time away from it and not stress about it because I clearly needed a break from it. This is a piece of work that has dominated my life for over a year now and now that we are nearing hand in – I have had enough of it. I am bored of it and just want it finished, I’ve lost my masters mojo. Except it is not finished yet and I need to find some tools to help me get back on track and stay on track. I decided to note them down here so that I have a public record and so that hopefully my twitter & FB friends can poke me too.
So here are my 10 tools
(not tips as that implies they are going to work- they may not!) that I am going to be trying in the last 10 weeks of this masters.
1) Just start. Easy to say- harder in practice (yes I am writing a blog post instead of just starting- see what I mean!). Even if I can’t face getting into my analysis, starting on my references or appendix tweaks is a step in the right direction.
2) Pomodoro. Sometimes even an hour feels like too much. By breaking work sessions into 25min sessions with a 5min break can help you to just start. But beware the 5 min break is just that! Sometimes you might get into it and go on for longer than 25mins- carry on then!
3) Check emails at set times I am a horror for getting bored and checking my emails for a “quick break” and they often lead me off into tangents and before I know it I have done 2 hours of other work which isn’t masters work. I’m going to try Lunchtime and 5pm as my email check times.
4) Turn off the internet The internet has been a wonderful place for helping with the masters but it also is the biggest time drain ever. When you find yourself watching a video of “worlds most powerful shredder” on facebook instead of working as I did the other week you know its time to switch off the net acess.
5) Use your friends for support and asskicking. I currently owe enormous gratitude to my friend (and #timemanagementguru) @LucySweetman who has been incredible in helping me stay on track with this. Also @danielhugill and @David_T_Evans have been awesome at helping me work out whats what in masters speak. Plus lots of other twitter and real life friends. Thankyou- and please stick with me for next 10weeks!
6) Don’t break the chain Starting from today every day needs to be a masters day. Obviously I can’t spend hours everyday but I can spend one hour every day on this (or two pomodoros might be easier!). If I manage this I will have a chain 73days long and 73hours are all potentially extra hours I might not have done otherwise.
7) Planning & timelines. Planning a day out the night before can help a focused start in the morning. I also have a weekly focus for each area of the masters which currently means I should leave myself two weeks proof reading and final edits. So trying to stick to these weekly and daily plans should help get this thing done.
8) Look after myself Eat, sleep, exercise- the usual. Sometimes easier said than done
two lattes and 3 marshmallow teacakes for breakfast this morning.
9) Remember the “good enough” mantra. Being a perfectionist means I can spend far longer than I should on some things. I no longer have the time to be a perfectionist. I am not an academic, I am a practitioner and I think some academic writing will always be beyond me, so I’m just going to try and embrace the completing the masters and hopefully passing it. Anything else will be a bonus.
10) Share my goals and ask for help sticking to them- Hence the reason for this post. If you see me sharing that video of the worlds greatest shredder on twitter- gently point me back in the right direction please!
If you have any other tips for getting me through the next 10 weeks without having a nervous breakdown please share (but obviously I won’t be replying until this evening when I turn the internet back on- Ahem)!
UPDATE: I also realised I omitted the crucial “Eat a frog for breakfast”. Always start on the hardest task of the day first thing. Save the easier stuff for later- otherwise the harder stuff which needs more time inevitably gets squeezed and conquering the hard things first gives a huge sense of achievement which helps get into and stay in the work zone.