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Wanted: Inspiration

It’s official. I’ve applied to graduate.

But I am not popping the champagne yet. Although I feel so close to the end I still feel so far away. Reason being, I have yet to complete my final masters project. I am currently deep in the midst of writing, rewriting, editing, and battling with the editor in my head nagging at me that my work is crap. I wake up every day knowing that my number one priority (and only priority, really) until the end of the month is to write my project. My daily routine involves much mental coaching:

Okay, you can do this.

Power through. You have the energy.

You like what you’re doing, so DO it. No diversions.

No diversions means no time for procrastinating (something of which I know we are all quite familiar). So I’ve been trying to incorporate rituals that motivate me to power though the long days and methods for inspiring greatness, because, of course, it’s not just about getting it done, it’s about producing something with impact. Otherwise, what the heck am I doing here?

We all – and I know I’m being fair in claiming all of us – hit the wall every now and then. While nestled in our favourite corner of the library or café, and after numerous amounts of tea or coffee, our working conditions quickly go from calm and comforting to less than ideal.


But, we must keep going. This is my reality right now as the deadline to complete and submit to my supervisor is fast approaching, and I’m sure many of you hardworking grad students out there are experiencing the same pressure. Which brings me to the focus on my post: inspiration. In the next two weeks, I will undoubtedly face moments when I will just want to ignore my alarm, press snooze and pull the duvet over my head, or shutdown the laptop in favour of another enthralling episode of Coronation Street.

So, I am asking all of you out there to share your tricks and advice for getting through the crunch. What inspires/motivates you to carry on when you just want to procrastinate or give up? (And I’m referring to the little things, not the obvious glory of the finished product).

Do you have any rituals that help energize you, help you to focus, bring on brilliance?

If you think about the number of grad students enrolled at Queen’s and all the idiosyncrasies that accompany each student, there must be a plethora of useful information out there that could really help a fellow student cross the finish line and reach the light at the end of the very long (longer for people like Shar and Atif, of course) academic tunnel.

So please, share your ideas, tricks, ideas, and words of wisdom. I, I mean, we all could really use the inspiration.

Posted in General, Thesis
5 comments on “Wanted: Inspiration
  1. Anna says:

    Hi! Thank you for a great article! Seeing examples of success keeps me going! I usually read speeches of nobel prize winners (http://www.nobelprize.org)or watch Ted Talks.

  2. Colette says:

    Hi Megan
    Ok, so a few weeks ago we had another Dissertation Boot Camp. Now you may not be writing a thesis, but the principals still apply. Many of the attendees are now forming little sub groups to meet at a certain time, in a certain place just to write. They keep an eye on each other to stop the procrastination. Take away the distractions like the TV, the internet, the mobile phone and just write.

    So find a buddy or two and make a commitment to each other. Find the place and start writing.

    I know you can all do it.

  3. Megan Bond says:

    Anna, I know what you mean about those Ted Talks. They are pretty incredible. I always feel energized and ready to change the world after watching them.

    Colette, the Boot Camp is a fantastic idea. Unfortunately, I can’t join in with a sub group as I’m living in Ottawa these days. So far, triple shot soy lattes at Starbucks have been helping.

  4. Michelle says:

    Sharing ideas is a great resource! The draft of my dissertation is due March 25 – I stick to it by taking a pot of tea to my writing desk (so I have no reason to get up) and setting an egg timer for 2 hours. Then I stay with it, even when it is uncomfortable and challenging. At the buzz I leave my desk and get active for 15-20 minutes – fresh air, a dance break or even a load of laundry before I head back to it.

  5. Megan Bond says:

    Great advice, Michelle! There are always distractions that keep us from moving forward (or at a very slow pace). I can see how the egg timer would work well. Knowing that you can reward yourself with a break after two hours of non-stop work makes the workload less daunting. Thanks for your tips.

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