Claire Gallop is feeling crook. She has a million things to do at work but she also has bronchitis (Ma’am Flu???). When she stopped feeling sorry for herself, she took time to reflect on it being time to try something different. She stayed home from work to get better, which may not seem like much to you, but took some effort on her part. Claire asks what should you do that’s out of character but that will ultimately improve things for you?
I like to find thesis tips wherever I can. I also like to watch TV. Happily, these two passions can come together through shows like Seinfeld. In an episode called The Opposite, George Costanza decides that every decision he has ever made has been the wrong decision.
In any given situation, George decides to do the exact opposite of what he would normally do. He orders the exact opposite of what he would have for lunch and meets a beautiful woman. Instead of spinning the woman an elaborate lie like normal he does the opposite and tells her the truth. “My name is George. I’m unemployed and I live with my parents.” Somewhat surprisingly, the woman is taken by this and agrees to date George. Doing the exact opposite of everything he would normally do pays off big time for George and life has never looked better.
Every so often in our academic journeys we have to do a George Costanza and try the complete opposite of what we would normally try. Working out where and when to do the big switch-a-roo is important.
If things are going well for you, then stick with what you are doing. But if your strategies for managing workload, putting good words on paper, or communicating with your supervisor, aren’t panning out, it might be time to tell him or her, “My name is George. I’m unemployed and I live with my parents.”
Our strategies for managing our academic work have clearly served us well up to now (we wouldn’t be writing a thesis if they hadn’t) but you can’t pull an all-nighter, juggle a zillion different commitments, remember where all those quotes came from, pretend everything is ok and hope for the best, or wait for the Motivation Fairy to douse you with her magic writing dust when you are writing a thesis.
Even where our work habits are amazing, sometimes you need to try something different and see if changing things up makes you more productive or means you enjoy your work more. Taking a break is super helpful for when you are so engrossed in the detail that you can no longer see the bigger picture. Too busy to take that break? Too busy not too!
Sure we can become experts on whether the knee bone is connected to the thigh bone or the implications of the repeal of the 1908 Margarine Act, but the thesis journey offers a chance for us all to learn new techniques for both project management and self-management and these can stay with us for life.
So, if you can’t possibly write in short chunks, would never dream of talking to your supervisor about your lack of confidence in the method you are using, are worried that you will never master the technique you are struggling with, or are far too busy to take a holiday this Christmas, stop and check out the Seinfeld episode. If doing the opposite can work for George Costanza (and me), it might just work for you.