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Thursday, 4 July 2013

Utilising a Work Diary

Back when I first started my PhD (three years ago nearly, *gulp*) my supervisors advised me to keep a daily diary to keep track of what I was doing. I didn't comply. The most they got from me was a monthly report on what I'd done since our last meeting. I felt that, on a daily level at least, I was doing very little. It was mostly reading and what a daily diary would've established to me at that point was that I was barely moving, even potentially moving backwards.

But last summer something changed. It may have been walking into Paperchase and seeing all the pretty diaries or it may have been a latent sense of responsibility but, whatever, I walked out with an academic diary with enough room per day to make notes on whatever I've accomplished that day. To make it work for me I decided to branch out from just academia because I spread myself so thin sometimes that it can look like I'm doing nothing. I am - just not perhaps the PhD work I should be doing all the time. I started it at the end of June last year and started my second one just this week. I'm still a little selective about what I put in though. Here are things that get listed:

  • Tangible PhD work - planning sessions with actual notes, primary and secondary reading, chapter writing, chapter edits
  • Word counts for whatever WIP I'm on with (I've worked on 8 separate novels during the year apparently) or edit figures 
  • Book reviews
  • Classic film reviews
  • Television reviews
  • Other Secluded Charm blog posts
  • One Yorkshire Voice blog posts

When you add all that lot together it does seem like I'm doing something. Although there are odd gaps in the year where I've allowed myself a few days off, there is usually two or three things written down in a day. By the end of the week it makes me feel as though I've accomplished something. It helps that I'm now doing tangible PhD work - a few years ago I wouldn't have been able to quantify what I was doing and trying to would've depressed me I think. Still there are a few things that don't get put in the diary:

  • Fan fiction, though I write much less of it these days
  • 'Fun' reading book completions - this comes neatly under 'book reviews' anyway 
  • Watching the classic films I then review 

All in all, this little book makes me feel like I haven't wasted the last year, even if I have spread myself extremely thin at times. Onwards to 2013/14...

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