My 365 Project: The Commencement of the Dissertation

My good friend over at The Jackie Blog is a big promoter of 365 projects. Having accomplished the goal of blogging every day for 365 days in 2011, she’s embarking on a new 365 project this year: to move (for fitness/health) for at least 20 minutes every day. I love the idea of her project, and it’s one that I was tempted to adopt as well. An underlying and persistent interest/hobby of mine is nutrition and fitness, and a 365 project that required me to spend 20 minutes each day on it would be a great way to foster this interest. But, I have a more pressing array of tasks requiring my energy.

I’m in my fourth year, or eighth semester, of a Sociology PhD program. I’ve acquired my Master’s degree and recently passed my comprehensive exams. After passing my comprehensive exams last semester, I did the bare minimum to get through until winter break. Winter break was lovely: I didn’t allow myself to think or speak about graduate school unless directly asked. This worked out well, and I was able to forget about some of the stress that comes along with a PhD program.

Which brings me to my own 365 Project. I am committing to spending 20 minutes each day working on something dissertation related. Because of the nature of a dissertation, this will include reading, summarizing, writing, editing, statistical programming and analysis, formatting, and making tables. This will not include meetings with committee members.

At this point in my PhD trajectory, this 365 Project is imperative to my completing my PhD. As of now, I’m completely unmotivated to finish the degree for various reasons that I intend to blog about throughout the year. By committing to work on my dissertation daily, I’m forcing myself to hack away at it in small chunks. The 20 minute minimum will help me get through those days in which I am really busy, really hate my dissertation, really would rather be doing anything else in the world. The 20 minute minimum will also ensure that I’m consistently working on my dissertation, no matter how little progress I make in any given day.

Like many others in a similar situation, I always feel that anything I produce isn’t good enough. This makes writing a dissertation scary and daunting. It’s a huge project, requiring the agreement and guidance of a committee of faculty members, that ultimately earns you a PhD. I’m scared, nervous, and anxious about the whole process. My hope is that 20 minutes each day will make the whole goal a little more attainable.

Note: Although I posted this intro post on January 11, I actually started the 365 Project on January 10.

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