Tag Archives: progress

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!

Motivation overrules exhaution; I end the day feeling content.

22 Aug

It is 9am when I wake up, after about 5 hours of sleep, but I cannot scrape myself out of bed. I lie tossing and turning, thinking about the day ahead and as I do this my body slowly fades into a deep sleep.

Waking up at 1pm I push myself out of bed determined to make the most out of my day. I proceed to the shower, hoping that it will revitalise me. Standing in the shower, humming, I think about what task to set myself today. Even though I am determined to make the most of it I am still feeling under the weather and this could, again, prohibited progress. I finish in the shower and drag my achy body to my bedroom to get dressed. Similarly to the previous two days my eyes are wanting to sleep, my body is exhausted and my head is in a painful haze; but the difference today is the fact that I do have some slight motivation and dedication running through me. I dress, gather my books, notepads, laptop and pens, and make the journey to the kitchen table.

Entering the kitchen I decide to make myself some lunch. I stand by the fridge contemplating what to make for at least ten minutes. I pop two slices of bread into the toaster and grab some random salad items…lunch made, I move to the table and begin to eat.

Before I know it the time reads 2.30pm and I have not even started doing any work yet. It is looking like today is not going to be a successful one yet again (I do not plan to do any work over the next couple of days because I want to spend some quality time with the people I love the most, so I need to make some sort of progress today). I stand up, walk to the kitchen side, flick the kettle on and stare out of the window while I wait for it to boil. As I stare I think about how I can make today successful but this only results in me becoming stressed and annoyed. Motor tells me to stop and think about the day rationally. I hear the kettle shaking (a sign that it has finished boiling), I snap myself out of the stare and make a hot chocolate (mint flavour today).

Back at the kitchen table, with my scrummy hot chocolate, I open my notepad to a clean page, choose a book to make notes from and start working on today’s task which is to continue to read around, and make notes on, research methodologies looking particularly at qualitative research methods, paradigm and ontological and epistemological assumptions (I do not know if this is really necessary for my level of study but I want to understand it for future reference).

workstation for the day

workstation for the day

Lifting my head up from the ‘successful qualitative research’ book I notice that it is nearly 6pm. I cannot believe I have managed to stay focussed; a smile spreads across my face as I realise that I am achieving something despite feeling tired and poorly. This joyful feeling is much better than the de-motivated, un-dedicated and stressed mood that I was in yesterday; as I continue with reading I cross my fingers hoping that this feeling does not fade.

I hope that you will be as pleased as I am with the fact that I now slightly understand ontological and epistemological assumptions (I added the word slightly because I am not yet 100% confident with it but I am not anxious or stressed about it; I plan to read a different book that outlines the same topic later).

7.30pm- I am tired and my head is pounding but I am still feeling positive towards todays task. So far I have re-read the ‘paradigm’ and ‘ontological and epistemological assumptions’ sections and read, and made notes on, the ‘focus groups’ and ‘qualitative surveys’ sections. This has surprisingly taken me quite a lot of time. I just hope I have actually made sense of the information and that it will come in use when I start doing my research. I do know that it will help me with deciding on what data collection techniques to use. At the moment I am considering doing mixed methods research (where I will use both qualitative and quantitative research techniques) for my dissertation but the questions I keep asking myself are: Will this be too much? Do I have the abilities and skills to do mixed method research? Do I have the resources available to me? Do both methods link to my research question(s)? These will all have to be answered in the upcoming future but for now I believe that the best thing for me to do is read around ‘mixed method research’, ‘qualitative research’ and ‘quantitative research’. Other questions that I need answering are: How much detail do I have to go into in my research methodology section for my level of study? What information do I put into my methodology section in my research proposal? And, how do I get to my research population? I am sure answers to these will be given on my return to university but I am very eager to a) get started; b) get everything cleared up in my mind; and c) know what is expected for both the research proposal and dissertation modules. Anyway…pointless talk over, it is time I carried on with this reading.

8pm calls for me to stop for a couple of hours and I leave the table to make myself something to eat. I ponder at the fridge for twenty minutes, being indecisive. I opt for honey-soy salmon and salad.

Food eaten, plates cleaned and a cup of tea made I continue to read.

By the time I stop reading it is 12.30am; I cannot believe how fast the past 3 hours has gone. I have made some more progress and I have also found some journal articles to read on qualitative research which I think will be useful.

I end the day feeling exhausted and poorly but I am happy; I go to bed feeling content.

Today motivation overruled exhaustion.

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.

Preliminary idea established! I feel content.

15 Aug

Tossing and turning in my bed at 8.30am I contemplate the schedule for today and as I do so I drift of back to sleep. Waking at 9.30am I scrape myself out of bed and have a revitalising shower. Jumping out of the shower, I dress and move to my bedroom. Here I look at the work I did yesterday, some may say that it was little work for the amount of time that I spent on it but in my opinion it was plenty and of quality. While I look through the 6 pages of colourful brainstorms and tables I establish what the main task is for today; I must complete SMART objectives for each of the ideas but the idea of doing this overwhelms me. I struggled yesterday so how will I manage to do them today? Motor speaks out ‘stop overthinking the task. You do not have to have the final objectives and you can come back to them and alter them at any point. Come on! Have faith in yourself; you can do this!’ Good old motor improves my mood instantly and I tell myself to go about the task in a relaxed and happy manner.

By 11.30am I am in the kitchen listening to the radio envisaging the outcome of the next few hours. I have already cleaned the kitchen and living room so they do not need to be put into today’s schedule. I place my notepad on the table and lay the Berol® pens out in a uniform line. I set myself one task: look at the aims created yesterday and establish how you will achieved these by setting SMART Objectives. Before work starts I walk over to the kettle, flick the switch and wait for it to boil while I demolish a bowl of Weetabix. A bowl of Weetabix later I am sat at the kitchen table with a cup of tea by my side. Work begins.

By 1.40pm I have created 8 objectives for one idea and I begin to question my objective setting ability. I do not have faith in my ability to do this and I really wish I could see, or at least talk to a member of university staff but, no, we cannot see anyone until we enrol at the end of September/ early October. Motor reminds me that I am making progress and that the work I am doing now can be improved at a later stage. I must continue but first I get up of my chair and boogie to the song on the radio. By the time the song finishes I am sat back at the table attempting to create objectives for me second idea.

It only takes me half an hour to form objectives for my second idea and my mood has improved. I do not give myself the chance to get distracted as I progress to my final idea.

2.50pm and I have made a decent amount of progress with objective setting. Despite now having a good set of example objectives for each idea I still feel that I need to break some of these down to make them SMART. However, is it a good use of my time doing this for every idea, or, is it more reasonable to wait until I have decided on which idea I want to use for my dissertation? This is a question I need to think about. My mind cannot decide…I take a break.

My break lasts half an hour. Back sat at the table I decide to browse the web to get a general awareness of what is already out there on each dissertation idea. Hot chocolate made I begin this search at 3.30pm.

Despite searching the web for an hour I am no further in deciding which idea to choose and I cannot come to a conclusion on whether or not I should do SMART targets for each dissertation idea. My motivation is lacking, I feel a little bit under the weather and I need a boost of energy. I stare out of the kitchen window and twiddle my thumbs for what seem like a lifetime. When I look at the clock only ten minutes has passed.

Radio back on, I begin to examine the work in my notepad. Motor sets me a task: write the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and limitations (SWOL) for each idea. I get started… 5:30pm and I have done SWOL for my ideas and numbered them in order of preference. I think I have made me decision; I now have a preliminary idea with two alternatives to fall back on. I sit back in my chair and sigh a breath of relief; coming to this decision has taken me a long time but I think my preliminary idea is the one that will be both challenging and achievable.

Now I am left with the question ‘How do I progress from here?’ To answer this I decide to read some online advice and Williams’s ‘planning your dissertation’ book, along with other dissertation planning guides. I come to the conclusion that I need to plan out my research and the proposal. This conclusion invites me to browse textbooks and the web for hints and tips. I take my time doing this and at 8pm I take a break to make myself something to eat.

The clock now reads 9:40pm; I think I am going to take it steady for the rest of the evening because I do not feel 100% committed and ready to move onto the next stages. As I ponder about what to do I notice that Williams’s book is in near reach; I begin to read part 2, titled planning your research but after a couple of pages I feel like it is not giving me the answers that I am looking for. I put the book to one side and continue my internet search, adding hints and tips to a Microsoft word document.

At 11:30pm I stop. Looking at the Microsoft word document I feel I have simplified the next steps within my dissertation journey. Tomorrow I will use this newly formed document to help me move forward with my research plan/proposal. I even learned about Gantt charts which seem really useful for long-term planning.

This evening ends with me reading over the work I have completed and  I remember that I have succeeded in deciding on my preliminary idea.

I feel content.

A great end to an unproductive couple of days. Tonight I go to sleep smiling.

14 Aug

Progress came to a halt and motor did not speak to me for two days. This saddened me and as a result I spent many hours staring and procrastinating; staring blankly into the distance, thinking about absolutely nothing of significance, and fulfilling other, more intriguing tasks that do not relate to my dissertation. You will be pleased to know however some of the procrastination hours were spent relaxing with the people I love releasing both joy and ease.

Today I wake at 10.30am and the first thing that springs to mind is that I have to do my supermarket shop. I pull myself out of bed and drag myself to the shower. While I shower Motor, who has been silent as of late, begins to talk to me ‘Today you will take it one step at a time, you will set yourself a goal and achieve it. This will make you feel content and you will go to bed smiling’. This in itself makes me feel positive about the day ahead.

Arriving at the supermarket at 11.30 am I still feel motor pushing me to have a productive day. As I walk around the supermarket I think about the previous two days and as mentioned above they were not productive. Reflecting makes me realise that today has to be successful, I must make some progress and I must allow the worries to escape from me.

Time passes quickly and the journey home begins at 12:50pm. I use the bus journey home to switch off from dissertation related thoughts. Radio on, newspaper in hand, I delve into another world of criminals and celebrities (yes that is all there ever seems to be in modern-day news).

When I arrive home at 1.30pm I dedicate an hour to unpack my shopping and stick up my mid-year annual planner onto my bedroom wall.

2.30pm: it is time to get my head around doing some work towards my dissertation. I am at the planning stage for the research proposal or should I say at the stage of attaining my preliminary idea and its aim and objectives. To do this I have to think of aims and objectives for each idea that I have gathered, as this will eliminate the weaker of the bunch. Motor speaks, ‘set yourself todays tasks and break them down. You should look at Williams’s book (the one mentioned in the previous blog) because she will help you by providing you with workshops to complete’. I set myself three main tasks. Task 1: Complete some of the activities in Williams’s book; Task 2: answer questions from other dissertation prep books; and finally Task 3: create aims and objectives for each idea.

Task 1 begins at 2.50pm. I am working from the kitchen table today because I need to be free from distraction and, yes, this is the only place in my house where there are no distractions that allow for procrastination. Before work begins I walk over to the radio and tune it to a decent station. Back sat down at the table I position my Berol® pens north-east of me in a uniform line and my notepad is directly in front of me. My brain activates.

It is 4pm and I am progressing well; both tasks 1 and 2 have merged together. I have defined the research task and how to do it (this was an activity set on page 3 of Williams’s book) and I have extended this by brainstorming, for each idea, why it is of interest, the implications, who, what and how. A break is needed before I go onto the next activity set in Williams’s book. So far my mood is staying positive and I am even feeling slightly enthusiastic about the future of my dissertation.

A hot chocolate (a caramel flavoured one today) and a slice of toast later the work continues.

I put the cap back onto the blue Berol® pen, sit back in my chair, sigh a little and look at the time on the cooker; it is 6:15pm and I have completed all of the activities in Williams’s book for the initial topic building stage, meaning I have achieved tasks 1 and 2 for today. I spread the 4 sheets of paper out in front of me and I examine the progress I have made. I sit examining these for 10 minutes while I begin to think about task 3. From completing the former tasks I have broken down my ideas but the next challenge is to create aims and objectives for these. Motivation and dedication has somewhat deteriorated so I pull myself away from the work for 5 minutes. Within these 5 minutes I walk around the house and eat strawberries while I listen to Motor. By 6.30pm I am sat back at the table with newly found motivation. Motor made me aware that I have already come a long way today and that the next step is a big one; one that will help me determine my preliminary dissertation idea which will be transformed into a research proposal. The radio is still on and I sing and move along to the current song, ‘It must have been love’ by Roxette, joyfully whilst disregarding the task ahead of me. As the song finishes I transfer my motivation back to task 3 and inner dedication activates.

One and a half hours later and I decide it is time for my evening meal. I make myself honey-soy glazed salmon with salad. My mind sticks with the dissertation preparation throughout the evening meal period and I keep thinking about how I will extend the work that I have completed so far. I try to tell myself to switch of for 10 minutes but task 3 keeps popping into my mind because I have not yet completed it.

9:30pm I have transferred myself to the living room because my parents have gone up to bed and I want to feel a bit more relaxed; oh and, before I forget to mention, the salmon was delicious. Referring back to today’s progress I can tell you that task 3 is still in the process of being completed. Before my evening meal I had gathered 4 aim examples for each idea, so I guess that just leaves me with the task of establishing some objectives for these. I am feeling a tad resilient, I do not have the dedication that I had earlier. But Motor told me that I would feel content if I achieve all my set tasks, hence why I must plough on through. Web browser open I search SMART objectives and open various links to get a deeper understanding of what it is I need to do. Half an hour passes…I still feel confused because my mind will not focus. Motor comes alive by telling me, ‘get a grip; do a brainstorm from the information on the web searches and break it down; look at examples and then use the newly formed knowledge to create your own objectives. Do no worry about them being perfect at this stage. You have plenty of time to alter and improve them’. Responding to motor I pull my collection of colourful Berol® pens out of my pencil-case, lay them out to my left hand side along with my notepad. I begin by going back to the web searches regarding SMART objectives.

11:35pm and I am ready to break of from this objective setting. I cannot do it tonight, my mind has railed away from it and I do not feel dedicated. A brainstorm breaking down the aspects of SMART objectives has been formed and I have explored some examples online; this should prepare me for when I come to set some objectives tomorrow.

The mere fact that I have not completed task 3 does not cause me to worry or feel dissatisfied. Motor reassures me stating, ‘You have spent a good amount of time working on your ideas and you have gathered a better understanding of where you are heading with your dissertation/research proposal. Be pleased with today’s achievements and complete task 3 tomorrow when you feel more awake and able to do so. You have at least researched SMART objectives and this will stand you in good stead when it comes to preparing some of your own tomorrow’.

I will be going to bed free from worry because I know that I have done the best that I can today. I have not spent the full day procrastinating and I have made a decent amount of progress in a relaxed, stress free manner.

Today has given me a sense of direction and I feel positive regardless of the uncompleted task.

Tonight I go to sleep smiling.

A productive day? Today an idea was born.

11 Aug

I wake at midday and choose to postpone movement from my bed for half an hour. Tossing and turning I begin to think about the tasks that lay ahead of me. Task 1: hoover up; Task 2: clean the kitchen; Task 3: think of a dissertation idea; Task 4: formulate a brainstorm; Task 5: search the web to further explore my dissertation idea (note to self: do not to get distracted by internet clothes shopping). Breaking down the tasks gives me order to my day but will I succeed in completing all the tasks and is cleaning the house really a priority? At this early stage I think I can allow cleaning to take priority as for me a clean house means a clean mind.

My inner motivator, who I name motor tells me, ‘Lying in bed is not productive, it is now afternoon, you need to get up, get a shower (which will make you feel 100 times better than you do now), hoover the room, clean the kitchen and begin work on your dissertation. You can do this, take it one step at a time. Remember success is dedication’. I listen to motor and scrape myself out of my bed. Walking to the shower I feel a sense of happiness and commitment while thinking about what motor said to me. I smile, jump into the shower and sing blissfully (singing random sentences which do not link to any known song). Ten minutes later I am downstairs completing tasks 1 and 2, which takes me a matter of minutes.

It is 1pm when I feel ready to sit down to begin work on formulating a research idea. Notepad by my side I sit on the sofa thinking about what interests me in relation to Early Years. I am home alone so I feel I can work downstairs without distraction. I stare across the room, an intense feeling of dread rides over me and my motivation deteriorates. Why? Because I am over thinking the task ahead. I open my notepad and look at the page full of words and doodles that was created yesterday. Motor tells me ‘this is your starting point. Take this as the beginning and use it to generate ideas. They will be something on this page that sparks an interest. Pick the key ideas out and place them onto a new A4 sheet’. I follow motors instructions by opening my notepad to a new page. I lay it so it faces landscape and I place my variety of coloured Berol® pens at the side of me. Scanning yesterday’s sheet of A4 paper I begin to pick out the key terms that spark an interest. Half an hour passes and I look at my newly formed dissertation ideas sheet. I see there are 10 key themes; I examine the themes deeply and pick one that allows for two ideas to be established. How do I go about extending these? A brainstorm for each of course.

It is now 3pm. I have gathered two ideas under one main theme. Looking at my notepad I can see two colourful brainstorms. I feel a sense of relief but I do not feel 100% satisfied with the work I have completed. My mind cannot come to a good overall conclusion of each idea, I cannot think realistically about what it is I am wanting to achieve. It is time for a break.

I stroll into the kitchen and flick the switch on the kettle and wait for it to boil. I am stood there deliberating the next step to take in summing up my two brainstorms. Should I think of a one line sentence for each, or, should I look into them more thoroughly via the online library catalogue search? The kettle bubbles and the boil concludes, I make myself a mint hot chocolate and take myself back into the living room.

Notepad back in front of me, hot chocolate by my side, I take each brainstorm one at a time and sum the ideas up into one sentence. This task only takes me half an hour. Brainstorms summed up it is time to delve deeper and browse secondary resources.

Task 5 begins but I have little motivation. I feel distracted from the task at hand and all I want to do is break of from it.

Now at 9pm I am sat feeling overwhelmed. I have browsed the internet and the university online library catalogue which has resulted in me coming to the conclusion that there is information out there on both ideas. I begin to question the next steps to take. Do I form aims and objectives for one of the ideas, or both? Do I write down why I want to do this, what I want to find out and how I plan to answer my research question? The uncertainty is a heavy weight on my shoulder and I feel a desperate need to give in for today. Motor begins to talk to me again, telling me to carry on and read the ‘planning your dissertation’ book by Kate Williams. I follow motors instruction in a half-hearted manner.

Twenty minutes passes. I have read to page 26 and inner motivation has returned. Williams provides a step-by-step guide to help the reader along their dissertation journey and this instantly provides comfort. To add to this the guide offers the opportunity to complete questions and workshops to allow for deep thinking. This in itself relaxes me and I tell myself to complete these workshops for both dissertation ideas. Another bonus feature of Williams’s book is its size- it is small enough to put into your handbag. I would say, from this short read, that this book is going to be one of my lifelines throughout my dissertation journey.

Despite being unsure on the next steps to take I have achieved today’s goal. I plan to follow by completing Williams’s workshops and by translating deeper thoughts into aims and objectives.

The transition to my bedroom has been made. I feel tired and overwhelmed but motor reassures me that today has been a successful day.

Today an idea, be it more than one, has been born.