Today is day 3 of my 365 project, meaning my progress is a whopping .008%. That’s okay, though, because I actually have worked on my dissertation for at least 20 minutes for 3 days in a row now. I’m already approaching the total amount of effort I put into it last semester, especially if I don’t count meetings with faculty (which I don’t, according to my 365 Project intro post).
So why is today, day 3, significant? Today is a Saturday. Not only is it a Saturday, but as I’m writing this post, it’s not quite 11:00am yet. That means that I got up on a Saturday morning and worked on my dissertation for at least 20 minutes today (48 minutes to be exact, thank you). Though I’m no stranger to working on the weekends, I typically only work on the weekends when I have more pressing deadlines. After day 3, I’m already starting to see the value in working at this every day, even if for a short time. It requires me to review my notes and what I’ve done on a daily basis, which keeps the material fresh and my current goals clear. It allows me to stop working on it after 48 minutes without feeling guilty, because I did make some progress.
I remember a faculty member telling me that the only way to get through a dissertation is to make sure that you work on it every day. He suggested a one-sentence minimum each day. This is the attitude I’ve adopted with my 20-minutes each day approach. Sentence by sentence, I will write this thing.
On Monday, I return to campus and all of my other duties and obligations return. For 15 weeks (plus a spring break week), I will have to juggle daily dissertation writing, my research assistant work, my internship, and submitting two papers to a journal. This last task will be front-heavy in the semester, but the others will persist throughout. A professor from my undergrad years used to tell students that they could get through anything for just 50 minutes (the length of sitting through her class). I’ve often adopted this mantra to get through many semesters, and this one will be no different. These next 15 weeks will feel very long, but they will end. And they will end with more than .008% progress.