Minimizing Distractions and Peer Support

It’s the end of June! That’s half the year over! Where did all the time go? Did I accomplish anything the past six months?

I start to consciously slow my breathing down and remind myself that I have managed to pass my major review, present at a conference, and put together a manuscript. Why is it that the biggest thing I am struggling with now is finalizing the manuscript? I have final revisions to finish, and yet I’ve found this to be one of the most difficult things to do this year so far.

Being conscious of this, I try to plan and structure a full day of writing. I remind myself to minimize distractions and switch off any phone notifications, as well as limiting my email checks to only three times during the day to ensure periods of focused writing work. My researcher brain seemed well-trained in convincing me that I needed to get on to Twitter for some #PhD chat inspiration and look for support from other students suffering writer’s block.

After quite a bit of wasted time on Twitter, my alarm went off to remind me that I had to check my emails. Even though I told myself to only look at urgent messages, I wasted some more time reading through various newsletters sent to my email. Then it was about time to have a break, or another researcher will pop in to have a chat, and before I know it, it’s mid-afternoon and I’m feeling a bit tired. So, I tell myself I’ll just make a really good start the next day. In the meantime, the late afternoon and the evening is spent feeling guilty and worried about all the time I’ve wasted and the work that is piling up. It’s going to catch up to me.

I think I end up wasting a few more days after that and then decide that enough is enough. I add accountability into my plan and start working with other researchers. Although our projects are different, working in the same physical space with other researchers has helped me get through this bit of a slump.

Time matters most to you today, so consider with care what you decide to do with it. Don’t let inconsequential issues eat it all up.

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