On Monday morning I started the day by reading a couple of posts by the Thesis Whisperer.  The first was on time management, and it gave me an idea.  http://thethesiswhisperer.wordpress.com/2012/05/14/time-can-you-ever-really-manage-it/    I’ve wondered for a while whether the way I was taking notes was the most useful and practical, mainly because I suspected that it wasn’t.  So I thought I’d give one of the suggestions a whirl.  So for the rest of the morning, and indeed the week, when I  read I made notes of quotes ready to transplant into my work.  I used nice active verbs and then wrapped the quotes in clever apostrophes and footnoted them.  I wrote my comments in around them.  It feels a lot more useful.  Prior to that my notetaking habit had been to write quotes with page numbers, and to put my own thoughts in in red or italic or both.I also read http://thethesiswhisperer.wordpress.com/2010/11/11/5-ways-to-detox-your-desk-and-mind/, and as my parents were visiting on Monday afternoon I decided that although I was unlikely to get any ‘proper’ work done, I would tidy my desk.  As you can see, it was a bit of a tip and needed attention:
Before...The paper on top of the printer is work for the Bolton Historical Association.  Beside the printer are my reference books, pens, flash drives, some old HA lecture programmes and a Geoffrey Elton.  As for the contents of the desk itself, it included notes for my thesis, the instructions for my hoover (it needed a new filter so I’d vaguely considered the need for a part number), programmes for a couple of conferences, some of the children’s pictures and bits of hardware for my laptop.

So I spent half an hour clearing it up.  I asked my dad to order me a new filter for the hoover while I cleared up, and then I put the instructions away!  I filed the notes and conference programmes in the proper places, be they among my lever arch files of secondary reading or my folder of current reading and work.   The HA stuff I put in a plastic wallet and put in the front of its box file.  Sadly, I put Geoffrey the walking space hopper toy in a drawer out of the way, and I tidied up the leads of the mouse and the expansion drive.  The books stay, as I need the thesaurus and Spanish dictionary on a regular basis.  And guess what:

Now it looks like this.  The bits of paper that are left on the desk are the current draft of my essay and my Inventory, as described in the Detox Your Desk post.  I was quite pleased with myself.Now, if I’m honest, one of the reasons that I have a problem keeping my desk clear is the children, and that in itself breaks down into two issues:  the first being their habit of leaving their bits and pieces on my desk and/or presenting me with their pictures while I’m working; the second being that I often have to suddenly clear the dining room table at short notice while I’m working on things – the easiest place to move them to is my desk.  In a way, realistically, my desk is really the dining room table!  But nevertheless, I was chuffed that everything was in its place and I had carefully planned out my work for Tuesday. Tuesday went off quietly enough.   On Wednesday I went into university and worked hard for a couple of hours before going to my Alexander class and then picking up some books from the library and heading home.  Then on Wednesday evening….  bump, bump, bump.

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