Fresh starts

listening to music on headphones

My first blog piece for 2022 – quite exciting but also a bit daunting.

There’s a sense of immense potential but also a significant amount of worry that it won’t measure up to the envisioned piece in my head. I think if there’s anything that I learned from the transition from 2021 to 2022 is that it’s all good to make well-informed decisions and plans but it’s necessary to still prepare to have to let go of all of it.

With students, both domestic and international, starting to come back to campus together once again, this feels like a really good time for a fresh start. As an HDR student, I don’t really have any set classes to attend on campus, nor examinations to sit, and so sometimes the months seem to roll into each other. A new school year though is a great time to reaffirm my goal of ‘keeping my eye on the prize’ and that prize is completing my thesis. How do I get there in my final year, as a mature-aged Ph.D. student feeling the weariness of this multi-year project? I’m not quite sure there is one answer to that. Maybe there are many small things I can do, commit to bite-sized goals every day.

Read. Write. Brush my teeth. Read. Write. Sleep. Repeat. Surely this daily grind won’t be sustainable though. Surely I can’t realistically live like this for a full year. I’ll need some brain breaks too but how do I manage some reset and recreation time without it getting out of hand and turning into a distraction? Luckily (or unluckily) I love listening to podcasts and heard about ‘temptation bundling’ from behavioural scientist Katy Milkman (on a Speaking of Psychology podcast episode). She bundled the activities she enjoyed doing together with activities she found less pleasurable but wanted to do as part of a longer-term goal. For example, listening to podcasts only when doing a workout in the gym. Maybe this first semester, instead of procrastinating on work by listening to too many podcasts or reading non-thesis-relevant books, I’ll start my day with writing first. Once I finish my two golden hours of writing, I’ll reward myself with an indulgent mug of tea at the end of the day, relaxing with a book or podcast of choice, even if it’s not related to my research project.

Almost all good writing starts with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere.Anne Lamott


Tagged in What messes with your head, phd, study, writing