When you are lucky enough to have six weeks off work to enjoy the summer, you have to make the most of those weeks. This is my third summer since starting the PhD, and each year I get ready for the holidays by thinking about how much studying I’ll manage to get done in those six weeks. The first summer, I spent a month abroad. I took my books with me, read one of them, and did a lot of sunbathing. Last summer, I decorated the kitchen. There seems to be a pattern emerging.
This year, I spent the first week travelling some Scottish islands. With five weeks left the plan was to study, study, study. Last week was the second week of my holidays, and I tried to study, really, I did. I spent the mornings reading and taking notes just as I had planned, but by lunchtime (sometimes that’s at about 10am), I was restless. Knowing myself, and aware that my restlessness is only eased by getting up and doing something slightly more active than studying, I spent several afternoons gardening, shopping, basically anything other than studying.
Now, you might be thinking this is my way of dropping hints that I didn’t complete last week’s mission of reading all the articles that I needed to read and getting ready to write this week. Where’s your faith?
Not only have I read the articles and taken notes, but I’ve also already written the section that I planned to write this week! Wonders will never cease. Admittedly, at around 1,500 words, it wasn’t a very long section, and I’m not saying it’s any good, but it’s done.
So, I could take the whole of the rest of this week off, couldn’t I? I could. I can think of several other activities that I’d like to do instead of studying. What I remembered last week, however, as I was working through my list of articles, was that I do quite enjoy studying. It’s only when something better comes along that the restlessness begins. Last week, it was the sunshine. I’m probably one of the few people who, despite thoroughly enjoying the annual one day of summer we get in Scotland, is currently hoping for rain. I’m far more inclined to sit at a computer if the sun is not encouraging me to go outside and enjoy myself.
It’s cloudy today, and that was what helped me settle down this morning to finish the section on which I was working. I am beginning to get restless though. I know I have a very untidy house and a pile of washing to do, not to mention a bedroom to start decorating. Unlike previous years, however, I am determined not to let those ‘other’ things take over. I have articles to find and read, and another section of my literature review to write. As I’m slightly ahead of this week’s schedule, I’m going to make a start on the reading for the next section, with a view to writing it next week. I’m going to break it all up though, with a bit of tidying, and maybe just a spot of decorating…and that’s assuming the rare Scottish sunshine doesn’t decide to make an appearance.