By Elke Close ¦
After Laura’s uplifting post about rediscovering your groove, this week I want to give you a little advice on what to do when you cannot stand the thought of anything remotely connected to your PhD thesis. Most of us have been there: those periods during the PhD when you just can’t seem to finish that chapter, you are on Facebook every two minutes, you can’t read that all important book in German – because of course it had to be in German – or you have simply lost all motivation to work on your dissertation. This whole situation can become quite disheartening and may have you question your choice to start the PhD journey in the first place. So, my dear reader, if you are in a funk like this at the moment and you cannot look at your screen without feeling anything but disgust, here are some alternative ways of dealing with your thesis.
Some good tips…
According to that one episode of Friends, setting fire to your ex-boyfriends’ stuff is an excellent way of dealing with your annoyance and anger – it worked for Monica, Rachel and Phoebe anyway. So why not try it with your thesis? Seeing the source of your troubles burn into a crisp might just make you feel better. Just make sure that you are burning a paper copy and not your computer: otherwise your PhD might be the start of a nice outdoor bonfire on cold night.
If the suggestion above is too permanent for you – after all, that process is irreversible – then you could always consider shredding the bastard instead. Undoubtedly, this will counter some aggression and bring relief for a little while. However, the best thing about this option is that it leaves you with some interesting puzzle work to procrastinate with in the future, without any guilt. Working on your thesis surely includes piecing your dissertation back together.
Feed it to the dog
Oh, the age-old excuse: ‘I’m sorry, Miss, I haven’t completed my homework because the dog ate it.’ If it works for a ten-year-old in primary school like Bart Simpson, it might work for you as well. But here’s the twist, try and actually feed it do an animal, though maybe not the entire thesis or your dog. On second thoughts, you might want to forego this option all together.
… or maybe not!
Of course, the options outlined above may seem very appealing at times – oh, how I have wished that I could just tear up the entire thing – but they won’t do you much good. So, what should you do to get through these negative spells? For one, you could have a look at some of the brilliant posts on written here on the topic: you might find that keeping a bullet journal is the way for you to keep procrastination and lacklustre feelings at bay. On the other hand, rethinking your attitude towards deadlines might help you become more structured so that you do not leave everything until the last minute.
As for me personally, I find that it helps to write down a to do list of all the things I want to accomplish by the end of the week and try to get at least 80% done and write or talk out any a particularly difficult problem with a friend over a beer. However, the most useful tip I have gotten, yet sadly never used enough, is to install an social media timer extension on your internet browser – BreakFree and Offtime are great examples of this – to curb your social media procrastination. Naturally, you can delete your accounts for a while as well.
In the end, it doesn’t matter how you get though these dry spells, as I often call them in my head, the best thing you can do is roll with them, realise it is okay to take a step back for a little and concentrate on something that makes you feel better; be it going home to spend time with your family, binge five new Netflix series or take the time to read a good book.
Elke Close is on the verge of finishing her PhD in Classics at the University of Edinburgh and is working on the influence of the Greek polis of Megalopolis on the ancient federal state known as the Achaean koinon. She is ISHA International’s Webmaster and Pubs and Publication’s Contributions Editor. You can find her on her academia.edu or university pages or on twitter as @ElkeClose. She has recently also started an instagram account and Facebook page dedicated to the history and archaeology of Hellenistic Greece.
(c) Photo 1: bryanlikestofish.com
(c) Photo 2: GIPHY