About a year ago, I wrote about decisions and priorities, and I referred to the urgent-important matrix which can help you prioritize your tasks. My top priority is writing my thesis and getting my doctoral degree – but it seems to be harder than I thought to find time for writing my thesis.
A year deeper into the program, and I can only say that the list of tasks has increased even more. It seems to me that there is some sort of a snowball effect. I realized I wanted to have written the first 4 chapters of my thesis by the end of March, but I only managed to draft the introduction chapter (something which roughly took me 2,5 hours during evenings). It seems like I don’t get to writing in my office hours, because there are too many urgent/important things to be finished. Reports need to be written, meetings prepared and held, and then there a “few” sideprojects that I took on, which seem to quietly eat up all the crumbs of time I might have left in the day.
But to finish a PhD, you have to write the thesis. Because my thesis deadline is over a year away from now (that is, if I don’t want to apply for an extension or end up with unemployment money), it’s easy to keep on pushing it to the back and try to deliver all the other work prior to get serious about the writing.
As of now, my strategy has been to write from home in the evenings and during the weekends. Even though the evening hours are typically not my best writing hours because I am already slightly tired by then, I do enjoy not being disturbed while writing. The large disadvantage so far has been the fact that I am mostly writing on my personal laptop, a 5-year-old machine which would prefer to retire than to have another thesis pushed out of himself. I also don’t have the same versions of MS Office on my laptop as on my office computer. I bought a download from a more recent version of MS Office through a webshop, but so far we’re 1 week after the purchase and I only get errors and their support team is incredibly slow at responding. (And I hate having spent money on something which doesn’t work!).
Another strategy I tried was going earlier to the university. The initial goal was to have my mails and other smaller tasks out of the way earlier in the morning, but I’ve contemplated reserving the first two hours for writing.
Alternatively, I might consider hiding in the library, or going to a coffee place for writing. I’m still trying to find the best way to get the writing done, and the biggest challenge in there seems to be to find the time for writing.