Tuesday, April 21, 2015
Achieving My Goals (well, some of them)
Writing the first mod 1 report was hard, and the ratio of sleep deprivation to quality of finished product was way too high. In an effort to expedite the second writing process for the mod 2 report, I told myself that there were quite a few things that I wanted to change: 1) NOT pull an all-nighter the night before the due date, 2) start working on bits and pieces early on so that I wouldn’t have to pull an all-nighter, 3) get feedback on my writing so that I’m not flailing around at 3am wondering whether or not I’m doing something right or wrong, 4) enjoy myself (possibly contingent on fulfilling numbers 1-3).
As for 1), I technically slept 3 hours on Sunday night, but it was rather begrudgingly because I felt like I still had so much work to do. Sunday night I realized that I had signed up for an EMS shift from 5-11pm. If there were no calls, I would still be able to work on the report in the bunkroom, but if someone needed the ambulance, I’d be whisked away from my laptop. Of course, we had three calls that night and I was otherwise occupied between the hours of 6 and 11pm, prime work hours that I sorely needed. Sleep is important though, as I, and many others, can attest to the zombie-like inertia that overcomes you when you don’t get enough sleep. So I slept fitfully for 3 hours then worked non-stop from 8am to 5pm. This is only a technical fulfillment of my first goal. I consider this still a point that requires much improvement.
As for number 2, I started the previous week off strong, revising and finishing most of my methods section and figures over a week before the deadline. Then I got slammed with psets and exams and all thoughts of “working ahead” were thrown out the window. My friends and I had made a googledoc that described an ambitious work plan for the week which would have ensured a complete draft by Saturday morning. But alas, after two days of struggling to stay on task, the whole plan fell through. 0/1 points for this goal.
Number 3 is the only one that I think I fulfilled to some acceptable degree. Like last time, I went to the weekend OH and it was there that I was able to sort some things out in my head, mostly the narrative that I wanted to tell, as well as some technical and logistical questions about formatting and content etc. This was immensely helpful and I don’t think I would be able to survive this class without all of the helpful hints and constructive criticism that I get during hours spent sitting in OH and munching on snacks (word to the wise: eating too many chocolate donut holes is detrimental to your general wellbeing).
What I am most excited about this time around was the I finally got to visit the BE Communication Center! I made two appointments, one on Thursday to force myself to finish some draft of my introduction, and another on Monday morning of the due date, to go over my final draft and polish things up. It’s so true that you only get out what you put in. The first meeting I arrived extremely unprepared. My introduction was weak and in all honesty had been cobbled together probably an hour before my meeting. When I arrived, I wasn’t entirely sure what I was talking about when I was trying to explain my paper, and I didn’t have any results or analysis to include in the intro, which I actually needed the most feedback about. Suffice to say the first meeting was not extremely helpful. However, on Monday, when I went in with a clear story in my head and a cohesive introduction, the meeting was extremely productive and I got some great feedback. It’s really helpful to have someone else read over your work because sometimes even though things make sense in your head, when other people read it, the readability is actually far lower than you expected. Although it was all very late notice and I do wish I had made a productive appointment earlier, the help was invaluable. After all, I’ve only ever written one other scientific paper and having the eyes of a PhD student, who has clearly read far more papers than I could possibly imagine, is beyond useful.
Number 4 is a gray area. I can’t deny that I made myself miserable by working nonstop through Sunday and Monday, and not allocating more time earlier in the week. I feel tired and cranky and I have this weird craving for kettlecorn (actually, I always have a craving for kettlecorn). But on the other hand, I personally found this research topic far more interesting than the bird microbiome project and I enjoyed learning more about how this all applies to cancer research. In that regard, I had aa lot more fun, and there is something about suffering through a project with others that brings everyone closer.
I would have to say I only really fulfilled 2 out of my 4 goals, but in the process, I’ve gained some insight into how I would better like to approach paper writing in the future. Now it’s time to actually get some sleep.