RUN, LOLA, RUN!

Posted: Sunday, 20 February 2011 in Good day
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I had a good day today in terms of writing and otherwise. I have finally finished the document and observational data analysis chapter (the second out of three data analysis chapters)! Hurrah!!! I did also go for a run and now feel good.

I did notice that the weeks when I run are the most productive. I guess, after running I have a sence of achievement and it somehow magically translates into words :)

I did not run since the end of November when it started snowing in London and struggled to get back to my running routine ever since. In the beginning of February, I started a full-time job at an international organisation in London and it does not really help, neither in terms of writing up my PhD thesis nor in terms of running. On a good day I come back around 18:30 and then I usually have two choices: (i) go for a run, then eat, then write, then sleep or (ii) skip running and eat instead, then write, then sleep. So the earlier I come home, the better the chance for me to go for a run. Unfortunately, it has been very hectic at work in the past couple of weeks, so I could not establish a routine (yet). I am determined to keep trying to come home as early as possible, so I can actually go fo a run before it is too late.

Of course, the alternative would be waking up earlier and going for a run in the morning. But I already get up at 06:30 every day, so not sure about this option yet. Maybe when it gets lighter in the mornings…

I do not have any free time these days. I guess, it is a common thing for those PhD students in the last months of their writing up. I write whenever and wherever it is physically possible: on the Overground train in the mornings, at my lunch break at work, in the evenings at home, etc. I usually have two hours of ‘possible ‘writing time on weekdays and two full days at weekends. The evening writing time on weekdays is ‘possible’ because it is not always possible to write in the evenings. Sometimes I just want to relax (especially if I had a hectic day at work) or simply go to sleep earlier (if I have been writing until very late the night before). Unfortunately, having a full-time job means you cannot stay up late and sleep in the next day. Whenever I go to bed (at 22:00 or at 02:00), I have to wake up at 06:30 and go to work…

NEW YEAR

Posted: Tuesday, 4 January 2011 in Good day

It is the fourth day of 2011 and I am slowly getting back into my ‘PhD’ mood (and mode).

My boyfriend and I celebrated the New Year with my parents and his mother in London this year. We made it on time to Temple to hear the Big Ben strike midnight, to toast 2011 with a glass of French demi-sec champagne (courtesy of my sister who spent her New Year’s Eve in Edinburgh) and to see the amazing fireworks! Of course, in accordance with one old Russian tradition, I made a wish at midnight. I will not be disclosing my wish here (as it may not come true in this case – another Russian superstition), but I will say that I did not wish to get a PhD in 2011.

When I was at school I used to wish to get the highest marks in all exams and then, when I would get a lower mark, I would despair and think that wishes do not come true, ever. How naïve I was… Wishes do come true, but not on their own. One has to work hard to make them come true (and this one is not Father the Frost, the Russian equivalent of the Santa Claus). I have stopped believing in Father the Frost when I was around seven yeas old, but for some reason kept making ‘wrong’ wishes under the Christmas tree for another 10 years.

So I did no wish for a ‘Dr’ title. I did though wish for something which I have no control over, something which will make me, and the people around me, happy if it comes true. As for my PhD, I am sure 2011 will be the year I am addressed as ‘ Dr’ for he first time. But I still need to work hard to get there! I will start by planning the trips to my university for this month and by booking train tickets in advance!

ANOTHER 1,394 WORDS ‘BITE THE DUST’!

Posted: Tuesday, 14 December 2010 in Good day
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I have finished the first draft of the discussion chapter today! Hurrah! Having sent it off to my supervisors, I am enjoying myself with a smile on my face! Next point on my to-do list – updating the literature review chapter. Here I come!

67,165

Posted: Monday, 13 December 2010 in Good day
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I have written further the discussion chapter today and I now have 67,165 words in my PhD thesis! Hurrah! I am so close to 80,000 words, I cannot actually believe it!!!

It has been a great day for me today. Even though I started it by watching some programmes on the BBC iPlayer, I managed to pull myself together in the afternoon and wrote 1,181 words! I am amazed how far have I come. A few months ago I would be angry with myself by now and would want this day to end, but today I am very happy that I persevered and fought my (by now very sophisticated!) procrastination.

I might have changed my attitude to such days like today, because of my newly developed strength of character, or maybe because I now get a chocolate for every 1,000 words I write in a single day (the limit does go down to 800 words if I have to read something before writing). My boyfriend brought me a box of Leysieffer chocolates from Germany (my favourites – cream truffles with champagne!) and at first I was very reserved and did not think I performed well enough every day, so the box was standing full. Then some day I really felt like I achieved a lot, so I was given my first chocolate. And then it went on and on. I wanted my daily chocolate so much (and all the feelings of achievement and progress which naturally come when you write a 1,000 words a day), that I have been given the last cream truffle today. (I would like to stress that I was given the chocolates, because the box was hidden from me, so I do not eat all the chocolates at once. I also think my boyfriend really likes the role of a controller, he likes to check my daily progress and even bows when giving me the chocolate to recognise it.)

So he is going to Germany again on Friday and will bring me a new box (or two!) of cream truffles with champagne. I must say they have been a great motivation for me to write every day. And, as one of my boyfriend’s favourite sayings goes – ‘whatever works’!

FUN

Posted: Sunday, 12 December 2010 in Good day
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Writing the discussion chapter is fun! Really! I woke up today not knowing whether I will be able to write anything. But in the end it was so much fun finally putting the pieces of jigsaw from different chapters together, that I felt truly happy!

I am bad at starting writing something new and am always afraid it will not work. So usually I postpone the actual writing process until I feel ready to start, and in the end I do not write anything. Instead, my usual procrastination methods include watching something online (on BBC iPlayer, for example) for a few hours or Internet browsing and constantly checking e-mails.

But today was different. I woke up determined to have something written, even if it is only a few hundreds of words. Maybe having my boyfriend at home disciplined me, so in the end I produced 1,511 words! I felt so happy afterwards! I even found a quote which in some way encapsulates my day. (This quote is by George Lorimer, an American journalist and author best known as the editor of The Saturday Evening Post between 1899 and 1936.)

You have got to get up every morning with determination if you are going to go to bed with satisfaction.
/George Lorimer/

I think it is so true! I do not have much time left until the end of December 2010 and I need to press on with my writing. I must have the first draft of the discussion chapter ready, as well as the idea of how to complete my literature review chapter. This would greatly increase my chances of submitting my PhD thesis on, or close to, the submission date. I guess, I just need to have determination every day and it will work! I will remind myself of the George Lorimer’s quote every morning!

(NOT) EMBRACING CHANGE?

Posted: Sunday, 5 December 2010 in Bad day
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I have been writing a lot lately and have been stressing about having as much done in December as possible. But it seems like everything, even the weather, is against me. I was supposed to be in Leicester this week to discuss two chapters with my first supervisor, but neither he nor I could make it to Leicester in the end. His car was stuck in a snowdrift and I did not have any trains from London, so we had to settle on a telephone conversation. It went well, but I feel it did not have the impact I wanted (or would have been if we were to meet face-to-face).

It is also challenging for me to co-ordinate my supervisors, because they have read, and know about, different parts of my thesis, as they until recently believed in a strict specialisation (one advises on methodology, whilst the other two – on a subject matter). But now it is coming to the point where everything gets connected and I am getting worried, even unhappy, about this arrangement.

I have been having arguments (PhD-wise) with one of my supervisors, who is responsible for methodology side of things, because he is not a lawyer and does not know some of the legal concepts I am basing my arguments upon. My other supervisor, who has a legal background, have not read the earlier versions (or any version for that matter) of my qualitative data analysis chapter and I now have to wait for me to finish it and then for him to read before we can have any substantial discussion about the findings. This drives me crazy slowly and surely… I have also been crying a lot lately, but, I guess, it is a girl thing and I just need to be strong and go on. Ehh… Sorry for being such a moaner…

I think I am just worried, that once my supervisors read the chapters which they have not read before, I might have to change things and I do not like change. I am actually afraid of change… Yes it is me saying, me who loves trying and exploring new things. But somehow I have not learnt how to embrace change yet and go with it. Any tips? I still have 8 weeks until submission.

LET IT SNOW

Posted: Thursday, 2 December 2010 in Neutral day
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It has been snowing in London for three days… What a usual thing for December, one would say. Maybe in Russia or Canada or Denmark… Definitely not in London! I was supposed to go to my university today, but since the trains have been cancelled in the morning, I could not. Coming originally from Russia, I cannot help but wonder how do people live like this here, in the UK? I mean how did it happen that a bit of snow is already a national disaster. OK, some may say it has not been snowing in England for many years. I have been living here since 2004 and it has been snowing, in my memory, only for a day or so, some time usually in November. Though last year the snow stayed for over three weeks and it was unbelievable how on one side people were excited, like children, and on another – angry with the transport system which got paralysed in a day! Welcome to England!

I remember in Russia every winter the government says that they did not prepare enough for the adverse weather conditions and apologizes for problems with heating and transport. But Russia is a developing country and so does not have enough bureaucrats with good project management skills. It is understandable. But what is going on here, in England? Why cannot the local councils prepare in advance for such an emergency as a few centimeters of snow? Why people themselves have to take their table salt and sprinkle it on the roads (as one of my neighbours did today!)? I do not understand this. I am a bit sad to see this, to see that some snow breaks down arguably the best public transport system in the world…

Or maybe I am sad because I have been longing for a change of environment and have actually been looking forward to travelling today. Maybe I am sad that I  have to spend my day at home once again (for the third day in a row). No, I am not against writing my PhD thesis, I actually like it. I just want some interaction, even if it is with the woman who sells me a sandwich and a cup of warm milk at London St Pancras International. I do get so much ideas (even for my PhD) from simply observing and speaking with the people around. And what do I have around me at home? Only white snow outside my window…

I was supposed to meet with one of my supervisor today and I am not going to. (But, in fact, his car got stuck in a snowdrift, so he would not have made it to the university anyway…) I am now sorting out references for my literature review chapter and will have a telephone conversation with him tomorrow. I must progress with this chapter before Christmas, whatever it takes!