Monday, 27 August 2012

Diary of an Honours Student Week Four

How to Stay Motivated

Somewhat ironically, I'd rather watch White Collar than write this post.  Winter is turning to Spring, there are many unread books festering in a pile next to my bed, and while there aren't many good movies showing at the moment, I'd still rather watch Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones go through marriage counselling than spend a few hours agonising over a literature review.

I'm sure you've been in my shoes.

It's important to really understand WHY you are doing something as big as a research thesis, or writing a novel, or starting your own business etc. etc.  When you embark on such a project, ask yourself a few questions.

1. What do you hope to gain from finishing this project?
2. Why did you initially consider the project?
3. What influenced your choice of subject?

In my case, my goal is to work for a publishing house/ manuscript assessment and editing firm/ literary journal/ be a famous writer, all without having to leave Perth for long periods of time.  By doing a research thesis which is ABOUT Western Australian writing, I'm not only learning about those who came before me, I am celebrating them.  At the end of a year, I hope to be in a better position to move into the industry.


If your project reflects you, your goals and your interests, then motivating yourself is a case of gluing butt to chair and letting your fingers fly across the keyboard.

I know that's harder than it sounds.



Why not consider making an inspiration board to hang above your workspace?  Include pictures of things you want, like your perfect house, a pet, a car, a holiday overseas.  Write a mantra in colourful post its, or if not a mantra, a reprimand.  I know someone who has "Attend: You're Paying for It", but you might like to write "You Chose This" or "Next Stop, Paris".  I haven't worked out what I would like to write as my mantra, but I do have a note card which says "It Can Be Fixed" as this is my personal lesson for writing and life.

If you're not the arts and crafts type, you could try a reward system.  Tell yourself that if you get at least three tasks done per day you can have something you enjoy, like a bubble bath, a coffee with a friend or a night out at the movies.  If you cut corners and go without doing these tasks (or do them but do them half-heartedly) the only person who is going to know is you... but really isn't that the worst person to let down?

Make a list.  Make it on Monday and give yourself a time limit to get all the things on it done.  There is something satisfying about ticking things off of a list.

Ask someone you trust to tell you off if you go on Facebook too often!  Ask your mother or room-mate to take your phone or television away from you while you are working.  Lock anything that you find yourself using to procrastinate in a filing cabinet and give the key to your Dad when he goes to work so you can't have it until he comes home.  Do whatever you can.

Don't write long blog posts when you should be working!  :)  Less than 70 days, everyone.


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