I subscribe to an e-service through which I get inspirational quotes everyday. This one, I thought, merited sharing:
"Consider the postage stamp: its usefulness consists in the ability to stick to one thing until it gets there." – Josh Billings
This made me think about dissertating. Over the last 3 years my dissertation has been My Main Job. I've oscillated between times when I do nothing else but my dissertation - much easier to accomplish when it's field research since that doesn't require extended periods of isolation. Alas, writing is another story. Not that I don't like being myself or that I'm one of the folks who constantly craves company. But yes, what I do find difficult is sitting down by myself for hours at a stretch to write. Some suggest working from a coffee shop but I metamorphose into Bitchenstein because people talking completely derails my train of thought. So I do have to hole myself up.
Where am I going with this? I'm unsure about where I could take the postage stamp analogy. Does "sticking to one thing" mean working pulling a DNBD (Doing Nothing But Dissertating) so that you hide out in the proverbial ABD cave for months on end and resurface for light only when you finish a chapter perhaps? Or could it mean working consistently so that your life is divided into different segments - work a little, sleep a little, play a little? My accounting teacher in grades 10-13 (O Levels and A Levels for those of you familiar with the British schooling system) always told us to divide our days up in 3 equal segments of 8 hours so that a third was devoted to sleep, another third to playing, and the last third to working. Let's call this the "3 X 8" model.
To me, the latter makes sense although there are times when I have to go into ABD cave mode. I think I generally oscillate between these two but I can't really stay in the cave for longer than 3 days at a stretch. On the other hand, the "segmented" model is one with which I also have a tough time - when I start playing the id inside me just doesn't want to stop at times and then things get thrown way out of whack. That also translates into "cave time" because I feel the need to make it up.
But what if I could stick to the "3 X 8" model? After all doesn't a postage stamp see the rest of the world even when it's affixed to the same envelope?
I'm going to give that shot starting tomorrow....of course some of the third devoted to work will have to be spent on teaching prep rather than dissertating. Yup both qualify as work but the former doesn't quite get me anywhere with The Main Job - at least not directly. Either way I'm going to make a concerted effort to stick with this for a week - I'd like to be able to do this because I generally haven't been able to find a rhythm that'll last a month (which is what I think I really need to feel like I've gotten somewhere)...maybe this a momentum I can sustain for a longer period of time. Check back with me in a week if you're interested in an update.