Tag Archives: smiling

A day half spent traveling; a day that ends with me feeling both satisfied and slightly disheartened.

19 Aug

(Late post because internet issues)

My alarm rings at 7.30am. I press the snooze button, pull the duvet over my head and lay in bed postponing movement. My alarm rings again alerting me that it is time to scrape myself out of bed. I push the duvet away from me and drag my tired, achy body out of my bed and into the bathroom. I switch on the shower and lean against the bathroom wall until the water reaches a desirable temperature. Desirable temperature reached I throw myself under the shower and sing gently as I was away the tiredness (singing sentences not known by any other member of the human population). Ten minutes or so later I am dressed and ready for the day ahead.

By 8.40am I am making the journey to University which is likely to take me well over an hour. I have never travelled to the main campus before so I might get lost along the way (the university I attend has a smaller campus based in the town that I live in and until now I have not felt the need to travel to the main campus). Why am I making this journey today? The answer: to use the vast amount of textbooks they have on doing research, to look at paper journals on my chosen dissertation topic and to look at previous completed dissertations.

I arrive at the town centre at 9am; I have missed the train that I needed to catch and the next direct train is not until 10:0am so I decide to go to Wilkinson’s and WHSmiths to buy some stationary. I purchase 2 notepads (one A4 and one A5), some Paper Mate® pens, a pencil case and some Sharpie® fine point colourful permanent markers. As I walk to the train station I deliberate what it is I aim to achieve by the end of the day. I know that I want to look at the materials and resources available at the university but I do not know what exactly it is I am wanting to achieve from doing this. I ponder as I sit in the train station.

The train arrives at 10:01am and the main part of the journey begins. Sitting at a seat with a table, I open my laptop and read some of the pdfs I have on research methods but this starts to give me a headache. I stop and think about what tasks to set myself today. The tasks I set are as follows: Task 1: find resources on completing research and make notes on methodology; Task 2: look at previous dissertations and note what kind of things are included (i.e. the sections and order). My tiredness makes me think about the day ahead irrationally and I doubt my ability to make good progress with these today. Motor wakes up and speaks, ‘Come on, there is no need for that. You have motivated yourself to get up and make this journey so now motivate yourself to make the most of your time at the university. You can do this, stop doubting yourself and put that smile on your face’. The gloomy look is removed from my face as I smile.

Arriving at the city at 10:50am I feel overwhelmed and lost. I do not have any idea where I have to go and I am alone. Surely I can make my way to the university site without any issues? Grabbing my phone I google how to get to the university and begin to follow the directions. I will make it to the university without getting lost! As I begin the journey I come across a free city bus which luckily for me goes to the University. My initial worry of getting lost disappears.

Journey complete I enter the University library at 11.10am. Looking around I notice how big the library is in comparison to the one at the campus I attend. This scares me and I panic. How am I going to find anything in here? It is too large, it is a maze. Motor speaks: “Stop with this irrational behaviour! It is not a maze and you are not going to have any problem finding the resources. Just use the library web catalogue to direct you to the resources you are looking for. You will find it is quite easy when you get started. Good luck and be joyful!’ I listen and follow the instruction to use the web catalogue. Locations of books noted I make the journey to collect them.

Collecting the books I want to explore takes me 50 minutes.

 

Sitting down at the table in the quit study area I set myself the task of picking out and noting down the relevant information, reminding myself to make a note of the reference. Textbooks, notepads, sticky labels (to note references) and the varying pens laid out in front of me I begin to complete task one.

As time passes I realise that I need to make an enquiry into whether or not the library keep copies of undergraduate dissertations before the library staff leave. At 1.30pm I stop and make my way to the help desk. Arriving at the desk I notice two women manning the desk who seem to have little knowledge on what is or what is not available (this could be due to the fact that the library is undergoing a refurbishment). I am called forward and I make my enquiry. My initial judgment is eliminated as the woman tries her upright best to help me; she advices me to look at textbooks on dissertation/ research proposal planning and writing as, after much exploration of the online web catalogue, she cannot direct me to any undergraduate dissertations. The fact that they do not keep any copies of undergraduate dissertations leaves me baffled as I am 100% certain I was told by one of my old lecturers that copies are kept at the main campus library. I leave the desk half satisfied and return to my area of study. Work on task 1 continues.

I stop task 1 at 4pm in order to begin the journey home. This early end is due to the fact that the last free city bus is at 4.30pm and I need to make a visit to the self-service machine to borrow some book before then. The journey begins when I have packed up all my belongings and returned some books to the shelves.

Arriving at the train station at 4.40pm I notice that I have 35 minutes to wait until my next train home. I could make use of the 35 minutes by doing some reading or I could procrastinate. Procrastination seems like the best choice but I know that I should read something. Decisions, decisions… I choose to do the latter and before I know it my train home arrives.

A wiser choice is made by my, more determined, self as I make the journey home. The journey time allows for me to read around qualitative research methods which, believe it or not, I have been doing all day. Reading the book proves difficult; in some sense I ignore the information because I do not grasp a substantial understanding of what the author is telling me. I put this down to the mere fact that I have several things stopping me from internalising the information: 1- surrounding noise, 2- my inner motivator is not present, 3- I am feeling lethargic, 4- I do not have the correct work station set up in front of me, and 5- I cannot make any notes, which for me, to allow for some remembrance of the information, is a necessity. I do not know what happens but 20 minutes into the journey motor come alive; I keep reading the chapter ‘carrying out interviews’ despite the fact that I am probably not retaining any of the information. That’s ok though, surely it is better to at least attempt to understand the information than it is to sit here staring out of the window for half an hour.

After a long and boring journey I arrive home at 7pm. I drag myself upstairs and get changed into something comfortable. At 7.30pm I decide to make myself something to eat.

One and a half hours later I am leaned against the fridge waiting for the kettle to boil (I have eaten and washed up; today I made myself a tuna and cheese melt with soup- Yum!). As I stand there staring at the kettle I think about what I have actually achieved so far today. I can tell you one thing I am still none the clearer on what exactly it is I need to know about research methodologies for undergraduate level research. All I can tell myself to do is read and make notes on the topic but is this the best thing to do? I honestly do not know but I will carry on with it and hopefully doing this reading will improve my knowledge on research and research methods. My reflection on the day so far has made me acknowledge the fact that task 2 was impossible to complete; to stop me from becoming upset about the former Motor assures me that it was through no fault of my own and that I did at least attempt to find an example to look at. The sound of the kettle completing its boil snaps me out of my reflective daze and I make myself a hot chocolate.

I take my hot chocolate into the living room and make myself comfortable on the sofa. Notepad open, pens at the ready and research textbooks spread out I continue reading around research methodologies.

11pm calls for me to stop working. It has been a very long day and I it ends with me feeling satisfied with the reading that I have done but disheartened at the fact that I was not able to look at any undergraduate dissertations; Motor tells me not to dwell on the matter.

By 11.30pm I am upstairs. I want to do some more academic reading but Motor shouts at me: ‘Stop! Do not overwork yourself, you can come back to it another day. You have done plenty’.

I end the evening by switching on my TV to watch a film.

Today has been a day half spent traveling; a day that ends with me feeling both satisfied and slightly disheartened.

 

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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.

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.