Friday, July 4, 2008

To coffee or not to coffee?

It's annoying to always having some thought interrupting my writing. I find I can deal with ear worms, my flatmate's cooking fumes in the kitchen and the crying baby in the flat next door. My manic habit of watching people at the bus stop that is visible from my window has even turned productive, in the sense that a few seconds break from the laptop screen sometimes rewards me with the idea I need to link two paragraphs. What I can't deal with is my constant bodily wants. I need coffee, tea, water, the toilet, a biscuit... this silly everyday life things break the dissertation-mode train of thoughts. Soon I find I'm more in the Homer Simpson-mode, wiping out my flatmate's crumbs and reading joke of the day websites. Today's is funny for its simplicity -- (Q: How many blonde jokes are there? A: One. The rest are all true stories.) -- but that just helps to stray me further away from the diss-mode. The coffee I just made is getting cold and my teeth feel dirty, soon the urge to brush them will put me back on my feet. How do you guys manage the silliness of routine?


dbm/gaa said...

This is why I try to avoid working at home and go to the library! I would gladly piss my day away making cups of tea and doing laundry and oh goodness the kitchen floor needs washing.... In the library I have to go downstairs for a tea break so I tend to work in two to three hour chunks and then let myself get a breath of fresh air or whatever I need before I dive back in. My productivity has gone way up since I started doing this, but the kitchen floor really does need a good scrub!

Anonymous said...

Hi everyone, I'm not good at regular blog posts, but I have been popping in lately to read because I'm in the same camp as so many of you! I can also see the benefit of working away from home. I live several hours away from school so I don't have the luxury for getting away. If you have any suggestions on what to do while working at home (because there are no other viable options) I'd appreciate hearing them. Sometimes setting a timer for 45 min and limiting the toilet, tea, and cleaning (wiping the stove, washing dishes)to the 15min break. If I were more consistent with this method, I'd probably more productive.


Billie said...

I move to Starbucks -- especially one that does NOT have a T-Mobile connection. That way, I'm note tempted to "check my email" for about an hour (or two). Without that distraction, I can be more productive. I also find that moving to an outside location also keeps me from doing the laundry, wiping the stove, brushing my dog . . . . all those things that (at that moment) more important than writing.

When I am at home, I use a timer (like Sarah mentioned). I use this free download ( I give myself a time limit (45 or 50 minutes), then when the timer goes off (and it can be kinda loud), I can get up and do whatever I need to do. This has been VERY useful to me.

I have gone through bouts of telling myself that I just simply cannot write if the house isn't clean, or the carpets are not vacuumed, or my closets are straightened out . . . but I have worked to get over that. (To be fair, I try to keep the place picked up so it doesn't beckon to me as much). But for me, it's the fear of writing, and that avoidance, that keeps me doing other things. I tell myself over and over that I don't have to fear the writing process. Somehow that works.

(Sarah, if you'd like to be a participant of the blog, just shoot me an email. We'd love to have you!)

Anonymous said...

I have become a master procrastinator. Partly due to real conflicting demands on my time. Partly because the process of settling down to do battle with my dissertation proposal is painful. Like diving into cold water. It feels ok though once you are in.

Bodily needs can most certainly be an interruption to thought flow, which could be a problem anywhere. But oh so true that a dirty kitchen floor never bothers me so much as when I am trying to write! :)

spacecase1 said...

Oh, the kitchen floor. And the laundry, and dishes, and... I feel your pain. I love the timer idea. And I promise to only procrastinate enough tomorrow to go and buy a nice timer for my studies!!!

liquid distance said...

Dear colleagues, I’ve really enjoyed your comments. I've tried virtually everything (This was Federer's reply after his puzzling Wimbledon defeat). I've tried every library available to me in London. Yes, not having readily available Internet access can be an advantage until you become obsessed with getting that extra reference that will make your argument look more solid. Yes, getting a spot in that part of the library that is the farthest from the toilet will have you squeeze a couple extra paragraphs. But sooner or later I become fed up of the same place, to the point that you'll end up playing Solitaire. Indeed, Billie's timer is a fine idea and I am seriously considering spending some procrastinating time shopping for a high-tech timer that I will enjoy re-programming over and over to keep me from writing. When there is no more functions to explore, I’ll place it in every possible place to see which one gives me the best possible angle of vision. But you're right Billie, there is a fear of getting oneself started, but as jerry's daughter said, once you're in the freezing cold water you’ll get used to it. But for some reason, you have to get out of the water and then you’re back in the same place.

dbm/gaa said...

liquid - it sounds like you might need a radical solution, so I'll offer one that I employ in a partial way.

Strip your computer of every distraction (bye, bye Solitaire!) and disable your ability to connect to the internet except for certain times of day. I don't have any games or anything like that on my computer, and I turn my ability to connect off if I think I may be tempted or I'm on a deadline or something. I have been known to get my partner to encrypt portions of my machine so that I can't access them without him. This might sound extreme, but if Solitaire is a problem, get it out of your life until you are done.

As for getting fed up, when you get fed up leave and take a walk for 10 minutes, then get back at it. Eventually you'll want to stay in the water for longer than 5 minutes and get something done!

Anonymous said...

Liquid, so true that you get back out of the water and then its hard to get back in. Especially if you'be gotten nice and warm in the sun!

I am trying setting up a routine. Every Sunday morning, 4 hrs on the proposal. Saturday's for fun. Sunday's for work. No excuses. Brr! That water's cold. Reframe it as invigorating?!