Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Time Management and Treats

I've got into a strange full-time research routine now, surprisingly quickly. I read a book a few weeks ago, about managing your time effectively when faced with a huge writing project, so I'm sort of testing it out in practice.

It was recommended by a colleague, who found it helpful when finishing his own doctorate fairly recently. It's 'The Clockwork Muse' by Eviatar Zerubavel, a Professor of time-related subjects. I've read other books on time management which seem to assume you're a bit of a robot, so I was fairly sceptical, but having nothing to lose, I gave it a go.

It does seem very useful. Apart from the obvious practical aspects, like realistic timetable planning, it stops you feeling guilty about not working very productively at certain times of the day, because everyone works best in different ways. I found it helpful in working out my own particular routine that fitted my deadlines, lifestyle and writing habits. It's quite interesting to see how famous authors like Ernest Hemingway or Virginia Woolf approached their own writing. Even with limited experience of using that book, I'd recommend it to anyone doing a PhD (or any thesis, for that matter, including undergraduate).

'Treats' have also been recommended by various people, as little rewards for reaching certain targets. That's the sort of advice I like, though it's probably best that it's not all treats of the consumer variety, or I'll end up very well qualified, but with a hefty credit card bill.

Though I admit I did go shopping when I was stuck recently, and was amused to hear sales assistants in a large department store describing expensive bath products by one of my favourite brands in rather unflattering terms. I doubt whether comparing the scents of their bath oils with 'cheap fruit squash' and 'wee' (AKA 'urine') is in their sales training manual.

But not all treats involve spending money, fortunately.

TV repeats of 'Ironside', the 1960s US cop in a wheelchair series, fitted quite nicely into my last stretch of research leave as a daily lunchtime routine. Excellent costumes and topical storylines (for the late '60's), set against a backdrop of hippies, flower power, Vietnam and the Black Power movement. Great stereotypes too - like an escaped criminal who ludicrously tried to blend in with the local hippies by growing his hair a microscopic amount, and walking around with a book he hadn't even read by Jean-Paul Sartre. Very amusing. Existential philosophy isn't imbibed through your fingertips, strangely enough. I watched the series from the pilot show through to the early 1970s episodes... I didn't like the clothes or the new female cop who replaced Eve Whitfield (socialite-turned-plainclothes-officer with a good wardrobe), so I stopped watching it from season 4.

Anyway... I can't recall Zerubavel saying anything in his book about woffling in blogs, so I'd better get back to the real work!

No comments: