Grad School Update: Little Bits

This semester I’ve decided to get organized. Seriously organized, not just semi-organized as I have been in semesters gone by. To do this, I started by making a list of major things that I need to get done each month. The list was actually pretty short, encompassing only bibliographies, presentations, applications, and papers. From that list, I’ve been making a to-do list for each month, a very detailed to-do list with all the readings I need to do and what day I need to do them on. This has actually worked very well. I’d say that I’ve completed all my tasks for a day at least 80% of the time. I was very careful to break tasks up into small, manageable bits, which I think has been helpful psychologically. It’s also allowed me to space tasks out over several days.

All of this was fairly intentional, but one unexpected element has also emerged: I’m remaining quite focused throughout the course of the day, which is something I’ve struggled with in the past. Partially, I think my focus is simply due to fear: my thesis needs to be finished. I’m not sure how it’s going to happen, but it needs to happen.

Part of it, though, is also because of my to-do list and the way I’ve broken everything down into little pieces. This means that I’m never plugging away at the same thing for very long. On any given day, I’ll read a journal article on riots, a journal article on Chinese Indonesian identity, and translate a little bit of a story. Moving from one manageable task to another seems to really keep me focused, because I know that each task can be completed fairly easily. Then I move on to the next, which usually brings with it a change of topic.

It’s worked really well so far. I’ve recently moved to mostly translating, and soon I’ll move on to mostly writing. We’ll see if the same principle still applies.


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