It’s very easy to figure out ways in which I’m not productive but significantly more difficult to determine how I can flip those around and make myself more productive.
I think everybody involved in a competitive endeavor, whether graduate school or otherwise, is striving towards maximum productivity. Personally, I’m looking for maximum productivity while simultaneously maximizing my enjoyment of life, which includes doing things that seem counterproductive (drinks with friends in the city on a school night? why not!) but are in fact just as productive as all of the hours I spend sitting in front of the computer. But that’s a totally different topic.
I’m slightly unexcited to announce that, starting tomorrow, I will be doing two things to make myself more productive:
1. No email before noon.
This will be difficult. First I need to turn off the push notifications on my phone. Then I need to simply not check my email before noon. I might eventually modify this to be “No email until you’ve gotten up, ready, and have done your obligatory one hour of seminar paper research.” Which leads me to…
2. One hour per day, in the morning, of seminar paper research.
Seminar papers are, by far, the most important part of graduate school at this stage. But I find myself leaving the research off until the end of the day, when I’m exhausted from GSI duties and reading for other classes. The easy solution is to block off an hour, immediately after I’m vertical and have had my first cup of tea, to just buckle down and do it. That way when I get to the end of the day I can let my mind wander a little more when I’m doing the tasks that are less essential. This idea is courtesy of accountability buddy Eric in Chicago and those faculty diversity emails that I’m signed up for (Monday Motivators, huzzah!) Both of them happened to have the same idea at the same time, which means it must be worth trying.
I also need to start trying to fix my awful sleeping patterns. I’ve been averaging about 5-6 hours a night, usually waking up every few hours for no reason at all, and taking ages to fall asleep. I’ve tried white noise, audiobooks, regular books, no screen time before bed, no food before bed, no caffeine after 5 pm… but no luck. So that’s going to be the next thing that gets fixed around here!