Tag Archives: mind-boggling

The desire to achieve outweighs the negatives.

28 Aug

I made the choice to do one post every few days rather than posting every day because it was getting a little bit repetitive. So here is what I have been up to and a little bit of information on my progress.

Enjoy and I hope you do not find it too repetitive or tedious.

__________________________________________________________________________________ 25th: After a restless night’s sleep I woke up at 12pm and laid in bed thinking about what to do with my day. After much pondering I sat up, turned my laptop on and uploaded some photos to Facebook (this surprisingly took me 1 hour to do; there were lots of photos and I had to add captions, dates and so on). Photos uploaded, captioned and tagged I made myself wake up by jumping into the shower. Feeling fresh and awake I proceeded to the kitchen at 1.30pm to do some university work. As I sat at the kitchen table I browsed through some web searches on research paradigms and decided to continue with the tasks set on the previous day (to read around research and to start thinking about what paradigm/methodology will underpin my research). I continued reading until 4pm when I stopped to make myself something to eat. Akin to most afternoons I made myself some toast along with a bowl of salad and a mug of mint hot chocolate. Sat at the table eating my food I became panicky and worried. Why? I honestly do not know; It is a sinking feeling that I get, it is like the books are drowning me and I cannot push myself out of them without being worried. Worried about what? The answer: misinterpreting the information, overcomplicating things and over reading. Whilst I ate I sat staring; Motor spoke to me and talked me around to thinking positively. With a more positive mind set I continued to read… I took a 15 minute break at 6pm…and by 8pm I was making myself poached egg and spaghetti rings on cheesy toast. Reflecting on the day, while I stood waiting for the egg to poach, I felt overly worked and fed up. I am running myself deep into the ground and not letting myself have a break. I cannot go one day without doing work and I think this is becoming detrimental to both my health and to my knowledge acquisition. After I had eaten I came to the conclusion that it was probably reasonable for me to do something unrelated to my research. Thus I opened my laptop and made a photo movie from the photos taken when I went to Rome with my partner; shockingly I was sat at my laptop doing this until 2am. I pulled my out-of-focused eyes away from the screen, packed my books, notepad, pens and laptop away, and proceeded to move myself to my bedroom where I laid in bed watching TV until 4am. I thought about the day I had had while I laid in bed trying to sleep and started to question my ability to do research. Becoming anxious I sat up and started to cry.

I CANNOT DO THIS; I AM NOT GOOD ENOUGH; I AM RUBBISH; I DO NOT EVEN KNOW IF I AM READING THE RIGHT THING; I HAVE BEEN DOING THE SAME THING FOR AGES NOW AND I AM GETTING NO WHERE; I CANNOT UNDERSTAND ANYTHING; NOTHING I HAVE DONE HAS HELPED ME SO FAR; I NEED ADVICE; I WANT TO QUIT; I DO NOT WANT TO DO THIS; MY IDEA IS RUBBISH; I DO NOT KNOW WHAT RESEARCH METHODOLOGY TO USE; I DO NOT SEE A POSITIVE OUTCOME.

By 4.30pm I had stopped crying, I had wiped away my tears and I was laid back in bed with the duvet pulled over me.

I ended the day in a devastating state.

Sad!

Sad!

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26th: I was meant to wake up at 8am to make sure I wasn’t late for my hairdresser’s appointment but I slept through my alarms and work up at 10am. I jumped out of bed and rushed to the shower and by 10.15am I was stood waiting for the bus feeling a little bit annoyed with myself for not waking up when my alarms rang. I wanted to get up earlier to allow time to do some last minute holiday shopping before I went for my hair cutting (I knew that I wouldn’t have time after because I was going to meet my university friends to go for lunch and to the cinema). The bus arrived at the town centre at 10.45am giving me just over half an hour to do my shopping. After rushing around the shops I arrived at the hairdressers at 11.15am (I managed to buy everything on my shopping list, despite the groceries)…45 minutes passed and by 12pm I was speedily making my way to Morrison’s to purchase some groceries. Groceries purchased I swiftly went to the train station, caught the train and made the journey to the cinema. As I stood outside the cinema, waiting for my friends to arrive, an overpowering feeling of guilt was present because I was thinking about the fact that I was going to take most of the day off from doing any university work. I told myself to stop being silly and to enjoy spending some time with my friends. By 5.30pm my friends and I had had some lunch and watched the film ‘the expendables 3’. It was pleasant to have had some time away from the realms of university work, and I had thoroughly enjoyed myself, but by the time I arrived home at 7pm I was sat at the kitchen table doing some university work. Yes, you guessed it, I cannot allow myself to have a day off from doing any work, especially when I am going on holiday for two weeks at the end of the week. 2 hours passed by and I stopped reading at 9pm to make myself something to eat. I felt sick and didn’t want to eat anything but I knew I had to, so I had some salad, toast and a cup of tea, followed by a bowl of fruit. From 10pm onwards I did some reading at a leisurely pace and at midnight I made the move to my bedroom to watch TV. Despite being tired and nauseated I could not get to sleep; I tossed and turned in my bed from 1am for what seemed like hours. At 2am I gave in to the restlessness I sat myself up, grabbed some books and proceeded to read random chapters. I finally put an end to the day at 5am when I drifted off to sleep whilst reading.

Books, Books, Books...

Books, Books, Books…

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27th: My alarm rang at 8.30am; I pressed the snooze button and fell back to sleep for another hour and half. Instead of my usual ‘shower and then get dressed’ routine I jumped out of bed, brushed my teeth, had a quick wash, got dressed and by 10.15am I was on the bus to town. I had to go to town again to do some more shopping, seen as I forgot to buy some yoghurts, and to take some books back to university; I also had to go back to the hairdressers because she did not cut my fringe to how I like it. After returning the books and purchasing an A3 notepad, an expandable file thing and some yoghurts I made my way to the hairdressers; as I entered the building to the hairdressers I became nervous about going in and having to say that I was not 100% happy with how she had cut it. I even considered turning around but deep down I knew that I would have regretted that decision. There was no need for me to be nervous because she was happy to sort it out for me. Fringe sorted I headed home at about midday. Traffic, Traffic, Traffic… the bus journey felt like a lifetime but at least I had some entertainment in the form of my radio and a newspaper. I arrived home at 1pm and jumped into the shower to wash my hair before doing any university work. The clock read 2pm when I was in the kitchen making myself some lunch (you guessed it… I followed my usual lunch ritual by making some toast, salad and a hot chocolate) and by 2.30pm, after initial worry, I had started doing some university work with the hope that I would do the task set for the day in a competent, successful and joyful manner.

Task for the day: to create a mind map outlining my research methodology identifying sections such as the paradigm, research design, methods and data collection and analysis.

….time passed extremely quickly; I was working happily and before I knew it, it was 6pm. Pens down and kettle on I stood at the kitchen table looking down at the work I had done so far; it did not look like I had done much work but I felt pleased with it regardless (my research paradigm and design had been identified, and I remember thinking to myself ‘I finally understand what ontology and epistemology is; this mind map is giving my research a direction… Fingers crossed it is all ok’).

mind map

Mind Map progress (yes I own a lot of pens)

After having a mug of tea and another slice of toast I continued with the mind map in high spirits and in an extremely motivated manner.

8pm called for me to stop working and I proceeded to make myself my evening meal. After deliberating what to cook I concluded on having a baguette with cheese and a salad (it was a huge salad with mixed lettuce leafs, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, raw beetroot, carrot, butternut squash and lots of cheese). As I ate I reflected on the work that I had done and I am pleased to tell you that all my thoughts were positive. I had managed to complete the basic mind map and I was pleasantly surprised with how helpful it was to do.

I made the choice to do some reading on research ethics and on doing a research proposal when I had finished my evening meal (the proposal, as well as the initial search of the literature, is the next thing I have to start to do). Reading was suspended at 11.30pm and by midnight I was upstairs watching TV and painting my nails. 2 hours later I attempted to sleep but failed. I do not know what is wrong with me as of late; I cannot sleep when I try to and my mind never seems to switch of from the university work. I opened a book and read for an hour until I felt my eyes closing.

I ended the day feeling content: I had managed to complete the task set and I had given some form of direction to my research methodology.

Mind Map Complete (with some spaces for additional information)

Mind Map Complete (with some spaces for additional information)

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Today: I’m not going to bore you with my usual morning routine; to sum up I woke up at 11am, got a shower and so on and then proceeded with the day’s tasks. With all the tasks that needed to be finalised before I go on holiday completed I decided to take it easy by setting myself the following tasks: Task 1, clean my bedroom and change my bedding; Task 2, pack everything that I can for my holiday; Task 3, iron any clothes that need ironing; and Task 4, continue to read about ‘doing research’ looking particularly at sampling and ethics. With the first three tasks finished by 3pm, I took myself to the kitchen to do some university work; before I began I had to make myself some food and as I did so I felt hazy and lethargic, and was not really feeling in the mood to do any work. Surprisingly by the time I had finished my food I was more motivated; I reminded myself that I had done the tasks that needed doing before I go on holiday and so there was no need to stress or worry about the work I did, or did not get done by the end of the day. I read at a leisurely pace until 8pm (stopping at 6pm to have a hot chocolate and a slice of toast, and to finish packing for my holiday). After a two-hour break I continued to do some reading until I made the choice to go up to my bedroom to watch a film at 11pm.

Today was not very productive on the university work front and I do not feel like I have used my last day before I go on holiday wisely. I even attempted to find some more secondary data relating to my research topic but that was not very successful and I was left feeling downbeat for a short period of time.

Green=done=progress!

Green=done=progress!

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As you can see I have made progress and managed to complete all the tasks that I had set to do before I go on holiday. I have made myself a mind map for my research methodology and I have finally concluded on the paradigm that will underpin my research (an Interpretive/constructivist epistemological paradigm).

My emotions have been up and down, I have had moments of panic, I have questioned by ability and I have even wanted to give up. But I have overcome the negatives and I have finished the week feeling content and ready for the next stages of my dissertation journey. The desire to achieve outweighs the negatives.

I am likely to have strong feelings of guilt while I am on holiday (due to the fact that I will not be doing any university work) but I will try my best to manage with this; I know deep down that I do need to have this break before I go back to university, and you never know it might revitalise me and make me even more determined and motivated.

I will continue with my blog when I get back from my holiday but for now Thank you for reading

All packed and ready to go on holiday...EXCITED!

All packed and ready to go on holiday…EXCITED!

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Exhaustion lingers and progress is prohibited.

20 Aug

 

This was meant to be uploaded yesterday so apologies for the delay. I have only just realised that I forgot to press publish. I have not changed the ‘todays’ to ‘yesterdays’ so I also apologise for that too.

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19th August Entry:

Today starts at 7.30am when my alarm forces me to wake up. I have only had three and a half hours sleep which I know will not be enough for me to function normally. Proceeding to the shower I notice that I am in a half awake state: my eyes are tightly closed, my body feels like it is dragging around a heavy weight (by this I mean it aches considerably), and my head feels hazy. There is no change in my state by the time I finish in the shower and I have to scrape myself back to my bedroom to get dressed.

In total it takes me two and a half hours to get ready and prepare myself for the day ahead. I do not predict great things due to the fact that motivation, dedication and the ability to function are low.

Despite the fact that I would much prefer to throw myself back under my duvet, 9am calls for me to set off to University (I have planned to go in for an hour this morning before I go to my partner’s house). During the bus journey my stomach growls at me asking for food so I decide that it is wise to make a detour to Morrison’s. Making this detour takes me half an hour in total and I purchase a Muller Rice along with other various groceries.

Arriving at the university campus at 10.15am I lay out my textbooks and continue to read around and make notes on research methodologies. I am fighting a battle with myself and I can feel my body shutting down as I work. Pushing through the exhaustion an hour passes surprisingly quickly and at 11.20am I pack away my belongings. The journey to my partner’s house begins.

I do not have much to report as the day progresses because the exhaustion is overwhelming and I am struggling to concentrate. Lunch has passed and I have had a lie down but now I must get my head around doing some work. I make a cup of tea and prepare my work station.

It is now 4pm; motor wakes up to tell me to get my act together and assures me that I do not have to do lots of work as today was/is meant to be an easy day. Textbooks laid out, notepad open at a fresh sheet of paper and pens at the ready I attempt to make some progress with reading and note making.

3 hours passes by and the clock reaches 7pm. If I am going to be honest with you I have taken it far too easily and little progress has been made. I have been trying to understand qualitative research paradigm and its varying underpinning ontological and epistemological assumptions…extremely confusing. My head hurts, my body is half asleep and I am ready for something to eat; luckily my partner’s dad has nearly finished making pizzas (ham and pineapple for me). I stop working and proceed to the kitchen to set the table and clean up some of the dishes.

Food finished, plates cleaned and a hot drink made, I head back upstairs. My partner has to get back to work (he works from home) so I am left to find something to do until we settle down to watch a film. I feel as exhausted as I did earlier and I am not up to doing any reading. I sit at the desk in a solemn state for half an hour. My partner tells me to perk up a little and makes me aware that he won’t be working too late, which I am happy to hear as I could do with an early night. Despite feeling rather gloomy I pick up the ‘successful qualitative research’ book and begin to read the chapter surrounding the confusing topic I mentioned previously. As I read my head becomes hazy and the differing information is getting muddled up in my mind; I cannot cope with the confusion and I become distressed. Why am I finding it so hard to understand the topic I am reading about? The answer: because I am utterly exhausted and feeling slightly under the weather.

When 11pm arrives my partner and I decide to put an end to the work; we grab a snack and sit down to watch a film.

Today exhaustion lingered and progress was prohibited.

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20th:
I do not think I will post a new blog entry for today because there is very little to report. It was very much the same as yesterday in terms of progress. I have been ill all day and I have only managed to do a couple of hours of reading. Motivation lacked, I was in a dull mood,  I could not concentrate fully and I didn’t note my progress, thoughts and actions as the day progressed.

I go to bed hoping for a better day tomorrow.

 

A mind-boggling day creating a Gantt Chart; My dissertation journey has direction.

16 Aug

Today I wake feeling very much under the weather but Motor kicks me into action as I stroll to the shower. As I shower I think about the task that lay ahead: Task 1: you guessed it (if you have read my previous blog entries), clean the kitchen and living room because a tidy work area is a tidy mind; Task 2: make a list of all the steps involved during the research process and the writing up of the dissertation; Task 3: create a Gantt chart (this could take me a while because I am using excel conditional formatting for the first time ever); Task 4 (if I have time): think about what methods are to be used to complete research project, in doing this weigh up the pro’s and con’s for all methods (make a note of these). Thinking about all these tasks makes me feel overwhelmed, a tear comes to my eye. Motor helps me control my stress levels by telling me that, in completing these tasks, I will feel more ready and able to progress to the next stages of the research process. My emotions are under control by the time I finish in the shower.

Walking downstairs I feel Motor sat on my shoulders whispering into my ear ‘You can do this, take it one step at a time. Remember success is dedication’. I smile in response and remind myself to go about the tasks ahead in a happy and loyal manner. I reach the bottom of the stairs and proceed to complete task 1.

Task 1 complete, I tune the radio to a half decent station and sit at the kitchen table (lately this is where I seem to be more productive). Notepad in front of me and Berol® pens to my left, I sit staring out of the kitchen window whilst deliberating what is involved in the whole research/ dissertation process. This may seem simple to some people but I am struggling. It is 2.30pm when I look at the clock and I haven’t written anything down on paper. Motor speaks out, ‘Come on! Stop deliberating and get writing. Just write down every tiny aspect that comes to mind. You need to stop making this hard for yourself. It does not have to be this difficult. Remember: writing something is better than nothing and the outcome of this task does not have to be set in stone. You can do this! Go on, give it a try!’ In hearing this I feel encouraged; in response I grab a pen, open my notepad to a blank page and begin to write.

By 3:30pm I have written down a set of task that need to be completed. These are the overview tasks to which I will add the smaller, finer details to later. Now I must go onto task 3: creating a Gantt chart. This is going to be challenging as I have no idea how to use conditional formatting in excel. I sit and think about how to go about this challenge for 10 minutes. I open an excel sheet and play about with it but this leads to the deterioration of my motivation. I stop and take a break.

Break over, it is time to get started with creating a Gantt chart. I open a web browser and search ‘example excel Gantt chart’ and a variety of results appear. After browsing the results and watching a tutorial on creating a simple Gantt chart in excel I choose to download a template. This reassures me that I will be able to form some kind of Gantt chart today. I decide to start by inputting the list of tasks into excel. I open excel and start to make progress…

It is 5pm, I have not yet imputed all the data into excel because I have been playing about with the programme. I must focus my attention to the task at hand.

Two and a half hours later and I have created my outline Gantt chart. Yes, it has taken me a long time. The reason for that: I panicked, I stressed and I took a long break…only joking, the real reason is that I have had to work out the formulas to put into the cells and how to format them. In the end I used the internet to help me. Here is the final formula for each cell:

=IF(AND(H$4>=$D5, H$4<=$D5), “X”,””) & IF(AND($D5+$F5*$G5>H$4,H$4>=$D5,H$4<=$E5),”C”,IF(AND(H$4>=$D5,H$4<=$E5),””)).

That was mind-boggling stuff, but at least I have my chart to help me along my dissertation journey. The only thing I need to work out is the time schedule for each activity to allow for the completion of the chart. I have added a ‘% complete’ column for each task to show me how much progress I am making. This will show up as a green bar and the chart will update automatically as I put in the % values. Sound confusing? It was and still is. My head hurts.

Gantt chart one

Gantt Chart showing the main tasks

 

A snapshot of my gantt chart with all tasks

A snapshot of Gantt chart with all subsidiary tasks

8pm calls for food. I leave my work and root the cupboards to see what I can make. I will come back to my Gantt chart in an hour or so…

When I finish my food (I made a cheesy, courgette omelette) I transport my laptop to the living room and return to my Gantt chart at 9.30pm. Opening the chart I look over what I have achieved so far. To prevent me becoming stressed and worried motor reminds me that this is only temporary; I can come back to make alterations. I continue by plotting preliminary timescales.

Another hour passes and I have finally finished my temporary Gantt Sheet. I must admit I feel very pleased with it despite it taking me all day. I have set my year out over 38 weeks and I know what direction to take. When I re-enrol at University I will be able to update it to add in other assignment deadlines and meetings with my supervisor/academic support staff. I am looking forward to getting started with my research now.

On reflection today has been successful, I have not yet achieved Task 4 and I do not think I will get this done tonight but that does not matter; I did say when I planned it into my schedule that it was to be done if I had the time left to do it.

My laptop clock reads 10:47pm. I do not know if I should stop working or not. I contemplate this and come to the conclusion that I will read around research methodologies for the rest of the evening.

I finish reading at midnight and make the move to my bedroom.

Today has been mind-boggling and challenging; I may not have completed all the tasks set but it has been a success regardless.

Gantt chart completed, my dissertation journey  has a sense of direction.