The Masterplan

It’s hard to tell whether this post signals the end of the bumpy road that was last week or the beginning of a new and hopefully improved road with fewer potholes and clearer directions.  Last week was a toughie – not the getting up at 6am to write part (that was surprisingly easy), but the stresses that go hand-in-hand with trying to do a full-time job, part-time PhD and not fall out with anyone in the process.  Apologies if you got in my way

Anyway, the writing challenge I had set myself went well – not my best pages of work, admittedly, but pages all the same.  It’s reminded me that I can write and it’s helped me avoid blank page syndrome, so I’m satisfied that it was a worthwhile exercise.  This week’s challenge feels more like an exercise in procrastination but, thanks to my supervisors, I know it’s something that needs to be done, and I now feel ok about setting aside time to do something other than reading and writing. 

The task?  To work out my strategy.  I thought I had a strategy, I borrowed it from Nike, but apparently, I don’t.  Up until now, I’ve considered myself a very organised person.  I now realise that what I’ve been doing isn’t organised, it’s just working hard.  I always meet deadlines (by the skin of my teeth, sometimes) and  I am early for 99% of scheduled activities (I’d have said 100%, but much to my horror I was about 2 minutes late for a meeting on Friday).  I thought all of this was down to my organisational skills, but actually, it’s because, a) I work hard and I don’t stop until stuff is done, and b) I would rather stick pins in my eyes than be so rude as to make people wait for me.  This has all worked pretty well for me so far, but doing a PhD is different.  I cannot fly by the seat of my pants anymore; I need to get organised. 

So, this week is the week of the Masterplan.  I’m going to figure out what I’m looking for and why I’m looking for it, where and how I’m going to find it, and how I’m going to deal with everything I find.  By this time next week, I am going to have a strategy for my literature review that is clear and justified, a plan for my literature searching that is organised and easy to follow, and a method for reading and capturing useful notes. 

I’ve started all of this several times already – previously it has led to piles of post-its, multiple word templates, lost search-strings and me waking up in the middle of the night looking for a pen and paper having just remembered the thing I forgot to write down earlier that evening.  This time will be different…

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