Deaf geographies, and other worlds.
This is a very functional post… following on from a skills training session last week with Jenny Beddoes of the Kudos Group. It was particularly useful on CVs and interviews (although not so much for academic applications but then that’s not Jenny’s area of expertise) and for time management tips. Having got to the third year of the PhD without it going completely wrong so far, I thought I’d share a couple of tips that I’ve learned along the way.
1. Write something everyday, even if it’s just a ten word précis of the chapter you’ve read, or what you’ve done. It’s not so much for the material, although that will be useful later on, but for the practice. I didn’t really write anything significant for the first two years of the PdD and when I sat down to start the writing I wished I’d had more practice (and I also wished that I had a set of more or less detailed notes and personal dialogue to work with).
– Read a paper, summarise it into Word or endnote or something with page numbers noted for particularly useful material.
– Read books at the computer and note anything that you find interesting… at the end of each chapter, summarise it and then write 50 words on how it fits into your thinking about your own subject… I’ve given up using paper and a pen, you can’t search it for words like you can on a PC.
– When you’ve finished a particular set of reading, write something about how it’s good or not… or you diagree or not (the only successful piece I did was actually a comparison of Heterotopias from Foucault, Hetherington and Marin).
2. Do everything properly the first time. I remember noting a quote from somewhere for my Masters dissertation and then wanting it for the final copy and taking a day to find it because I didn’t write down where it came from. Now, even if it’s only a quote or a note of a book subject or something, I take the time to write the full reference so that I don’t even need to go back to the book and look it up again. I guess the same could apply to organising photocopies, labelling CDs, filing historical notes etc. If you do it right the first time, you’ll save frustration later.
3. Be ruthless with time. I work at home Monday to Thursday writing. Friday, I’m at university doing admin, reading papers and new material and seeing people… although my tendency is also to be a bit reclusive so that won’t work for everyone… and I need to work on spending time with both Deaf Studies and Geography people (and I’m only really achieving the former at the moment). Also with tasks… I try to do about half an hour of e-mailing in the morning and then only look at them at lunchtime and at the end of the day. Home admin, expenses, going to the post-office, reading students’ notes, phonecalls, centre-meetings, voluntary activities etc. I try to put them all onto Fridays and do them before they get urgent and break into other days’ work.
4. Preparation time is not wasted when you’re writing. I’ve found that diving straight in to writing loses me time. Instead, it’s better for me to spend a few days preparing and sorting and organising and structuring. Then, I can start to write without having to stop and re-write it all when it’s gone off track.
Anyway… that’s it…