Master Log 08: Reading books on the day you borrowed them

and why immediate action is important

In June I will have to hand in my Master thesis and final project. Here I keep a diary on my progress and show how certain techniques are applicable in non-academic life.

Once I have started diving into a topic, it is hard for me to come back to the surface. Provided I am interested in the topic, I can go on forever with collecting material. Everything seems interesting and relevant. When the search has begun, books and journal articles just keep piling on my desk, and one article leads to twenty others.

The library is eight kilometers from my flat. Therefore I have to plan carefully what to borrow when, because in case I forget something, it takes me more than half an hour by bike to go there and get it. On the other hand, I don’t fancy carrying those huge and heavy books all the way home and at a certain point back to the library again.

So recently I decided to work in the library. That had several advantages:

  • It was quiet and the few people around me were working on their own stuff, which encouraged me to be productive myself. Changing places can be a motivation boost and eliminate many distractions.
  • I was sitting at the source. When I found a hint in one book to another one, I could just go look for it and continue reading. I was surrounded by inspiring material that could enrich my thesis.
  • But most importantly: I could pick the book, sit down and read the relevant chapters right away. Instead of going through the whole research process, walking along the shelves, collecting several books, packing them in my backpack, going home and then doing something else, I immediately acted on the newly found material.

The last point not only applies to literature for a thesis. It generally helps with everything. Do not postpone things. React immediately. I do that with my EMAILS. I used to keep emails that I had read in my inbox but I would wait for a good moment to answer them. The thing is: That good moment never comes. The unanswered mails piled in the inbox. Instead, now I react immediately. What I have read, I either answer right away or put in the archive. I don’t allow myself to postpone anything.

When I get an ASSIGNMENT, I am trying to do it immediately, even if it is due not before three weeks. In those three weeks other assignments will pop up and then I will get stressed.

After cooking and eating, I do the DISHES right away. Everything that can go to the dishwasher, goes there and the rest I wash right after eating. In that way, the work load is smaller and faster to do, and nothing gets the chance to accumulate to a nasty pile.

When I was through with all the books, I put the relevant quotes in my referencing software, put the books back on the shelves and went home, a good step closer to finishing the literature review.

What can you do NOW? Do it! React!

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