I became a senior manager and my diary went wild. I’m going to talk about what it’s like here, both so you can more effectively work with the senior managers in your team (maybe your supervisor, or a significant administrator), but also so you can have an insight into what it’s like to be a senior manager as you think about your own career trajectory.
Sometimes the best way to solve a problem is to sit down and attack it directly. But sometimes, you need to come at it sideways. We are often most creative when we are wandering around a problem or when we have taken a break.
One way we have used to make decisions about the future, since deep history, is to attempt to make patterns out of random stuff.
You may have heard the proverb ‘a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step’, it’s from Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching. But while getting started feels hard, finishing a research thesis is so much harder.
This breathing practice works if you need to feel calmer. It’s hard to read and count and breathe, but it’s easy to breathe if someone else keeps count for you, so let me help you out.
In this third practice, I encourage you to close your eyes and imagine the big picture context for your research. It’s hard to read with your eyes shut, so we made it audible.
Over on the Whisper Collective Podcast, I’ve just released a series of audio recordings from the new book, Writing Well and Being Well for your PhD and Beyond.
In this first practice, I encourage you to get out of the house. It’s hard to read and walk at the same time, so we made it portable.
Put your headphones on, lace up your shoes, and plan to get away from your desk with a walking practice to help stir up thoughts and get your writing going.
Back in 2021, I tracked my writing for a year. I kept a done diary for 6 months (as I’ve previously written about on the blog), but I also met up every month with an old co-author and we each wrote a little report on what we’d been doing: what was growing in the garden, what we were eating, what was going on in the world, what we were doing to move, what we were reading, but also what we were doing to progress our next writing project.
As I was getting to the end of the recent book, I was buying books at my usual pace but not reading them (as that brainspace was completely taken up with reading my own draft or references for the draft).
Now the book is in and the summer has started, I felt excited to dive into all these books but I also felt stuck. I couldn’t get into gear, let alone find my groove.
So I rummaged around in my toolbox, and came up with this list of techniques. None of them are perfect, but little by little we are turning the dial back to reading.
Mindfulness is about being present in the moment with your writing, but there may be difficult feelings there. It can help to move from rehearsing how badly you feel, to articulating a beneficial wish for everything and everyone around you, including yourself. And apply it more specifically to your writing practice.
Maybe you could dial up the positive talk, to yourself and others. How does that feel? What grace could be experienced?