Monday, 13 February 2012

There's organisation... then there's organisation.

This is one of my desk drawers. I'm showing you this, because it reveals a little (well... maybe a lot) about the neat-freak I am. I have an obsession with organising all my stuff. In fact, a lot of people who know me would probably call me "organised". For example, in that picture, there are coloured pencils in one tray, coloured pens and highlighters in another, Sharpies in the pencil case - which is a Wall-e pencil case by the way, because I'm cool, a to-do list notebook, post-its, paperclips and so on.

That picture is pretty indicative of what the rest of my desk drawers, my desk, my filing cabinet and my shelves are like. Organised, right?

Well, yes and no.

I do like to think this is organised in a sense. Almost everything I need, I have - and that's including some spare money, hair bands, chewing gum and a travel-sized toothbrush and toothpaste. I am the personification of the appearance of organisation. The reality is that all these things are super tidy and super organised because I tend to have problems organising the big stuff.

My workload - as you might have read - has been a bit all over the place recently, because I was keeping up the mentality of "Do one thing until it's finished and nothing else". This is how I eat my tea. It's not really how I should do my work. It resulted in coding burn out and complete frustration (and some tears, but that is probably more about me than about the coding...) It worked for me in my undergrad because time-frames I worked within were shorter. Assignments had a three week turnaround at most, but I'd tend to do each one in no longer than a week. My dissertation was the longest project I worked on, but even that was separated into food-group chunks. All the data collection, then all the analysis, then all the writing.

I have rapidly come to realise, now that I have more than just reading to do, that this method doesn't work for a PhD. I can practically hear some of you sitting there saying "Duh!" but this is a pretty radical thought for me.

To that end, I'm trying to make some changes in my working habits. I've got a to-do list for each week, and a daily schedule that allows time for reading/writing, coding and marking. I need to tackle a little bit of everything at a time. Mixing all these different tasks makes me feel a little uncomfortable, but I think that's more the remnants of my bad habits' death throes than anything else.

What do you do to be organised? Are you really organised?

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