Thursday, 9 April 2009


I thought I'd write this post because of the comments I've received from several family members who have read this blog and said "shouldn't you be writing your PhD instead of making soap...?" So here's a post about PhD-ing.

This picture is of my desk this morning. It's in the attic, under the skylight. Someone had left the desk in the street with a note saying 'please take', so we did. Peter made the bookcase. The boxes on the floor have photos, cds, and an assortment of rubbish in. If you click on the photos, they get bigger and you can see better.

It wasn't feeling very restful with all the papers and stuff on the floor... so I spent half an hour putting things away, getting rid of paper, and changing the furniture around a bit. 

It had gone a bit dark with the rain outside by this point, so the photo is a bit dingy! The photo on the left is my young cousin - quite a lot younger in this picture! The two cards at the back are of pictures painted by my friend. The photo on the right is of a valley in Orkney I went to on holiday. And in the glass frame laid down on the yellow cloth is a collage of found treasures made by Peter. 

I've moved the bookcase to the sewing area on the other side of the room - that's a project for another day. I've got a bag full of papers to take to the office, and the cds and photos are under the yellow cloth. 

On the desk is my PhD management folder (until I think of a better name for it). I've been doing this PhD for years, and have so many papers, folders and files everywhere that it's difficult to keep track of things. I started this folder a few weeks ago, to keep the most recent things together, and so far it's working well. It's an old conference folder thing that was just hanging around in the house.

The chapter I'm working on at the minute gets put in a pink plastic folder, so it's easy to get out. On top is the sheet I use for planning the section I'm writing, so I can see everything I need to do on one sheet.

There's space for post it notes and small paper for messages and numbers. There's a couple of zips for pens and paperclips. In the space at the side, I keep some plastic wallets with copies of the past couple of chapters I've been working on, together with articles I'm collecting to read for those chapters, and notes when I've read them. I've also got a plastic wallet for notes from supervisions.

The red hardback display book was also hanging round the house, and has been put to good use. On the front is a work plan, with the date of my next supervision meeting, things I need to do before it, and a space to tick off when I've done them. Inside is a sheet to write issues and questions and things I need to find out later, so I don't get sidetracked while I'm trying to write. 

There's a list of books and articles on loan from the library and other people, and dates they're due back. I've got a sheet with contact details of people in the department, and one where I write the current version of each chapter, so I don't lose track of whether I'm on version 556 or 557... 

At the back is an overall work plan, showing when I plan to have each chapter finished and handed in. And there's an ongoing list of things to do that need chipping away at - listing references, filing articles, and scanning in photographs. I do 15 minutes of one of these each time I go into the office, and they're slowly getting finished.

So I AM working, and it's a lot easier now I've got everything in one place, and easy to find lists of what needs doing and when. It's also a lot less stressful (and again easier) when I give myself decent, proper breaks and do cheery things like making yogurt or soap or dinner, sewing, cleaning (not sure that's cheery yet, I'm getting there), or gardening. 

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