As I mentioned in my last post, something that is both difficult to achieve but still seems integral to the intellectual, physical, and mental health of the Ph.D. student is a balance between work and a multitude of other activities that don’t necessarily fit into the category of academic work, but don’t really feel like a negative form of procrastination, either. Like blogging (2nd post! Landmark!)
It’s easy to put off research if it becomes a chore. The easiest way for research to become chore-like is if it’s done marathon style. No one wants to read about the difference between oral and written transmission for 6 hours, no matter how interesting the articles are (with apologies to messrs Treitler and Boorman, whose work is currently occupying most of my reading list).
The concept of breaking up research throughout the day is most useful in the early stages. When I was finishing my Master’s degree, the 7-hour library marathon was common, since my method of writing and editing relies on continuity. I find it extremely difficult to start writing, then stop, then start again. I’m sure this topic will be featured in many a later blog post, since this is a challenge I will face while writing my Ph.D. thesis. Reading, on the other hand, needs a bit of time to soak in. It’s still possible to do thoughtful reflection on something you’ve read while engaging in another activity, like prepping the crust for the awesome quiche you’re going to make for dinner with the gorgeous artichoke you bought from Turnips in Borough Market over the weekend. Or even something routinely necessary, like laundry or going for a run.
It’s a nice feeling, the elusive Balanced Monday. It does, however, have the undesirable affect of bringing on Justifiable Laziness Tuesday, where the afflicted party manages to convince myself that it’s okay to sit on the couch and watch Law and Order: SVU all day, since I got so much work done yesterday.