34 days to go.
I sit here, waiting for my timer to finish. My break is nearly up, and I know that I’ll soon get back to work. I have been working remarkably consistently over the past few days (even accounting for the relative peace of my home in comparison to the office). Why?
It comes down, I think, to two things. Firstly, the quality of one’s keyboard cannot be underestimated as a productive factor. Mine is excellent, and I highly recommend that you get a new one. Most keyboards are fairly soft on the fingers with little tactile feedback, which actually makes writing on them remarkably difficult. The reason is that cheap keyboards use cheap switches to convert your key presses into electrical impulses – so called “rubber dome” switches.
More expensive mechanical switches use spring action and metallic contacts to do the same job, but tend to be more robust and have a stronger tactile feel to them. It’s difficult to understate the difference that a small change like that makes – typing tends to feel more responsive because you can tell exactly when you’ve hit a key. I love it, and you should all get mechanical switches in your keyboards. Mine is a Corsair K70 with Brown switches, highly recommended. It’s probably the second best birthday or Christmas present I’ve ever had (the best is my coffee maker, which I cannot live without).
Getting back to the original thought, the second reason I’ve been so productive is the timer. A concept recently introduced to me is the “pomodoro” method of time management, where you work for 25 minutes and take a 5 minute break (then repeat). I find that this helps me to concentrate for reasonable periods of time while allowing me just enough time to let my brain reset occasionally. It also means I don’t have to commit to very long periods of work if I can’t manage it – committing myself to an hour or more at a time meant that I was just finding excuses not to work.
After repeatedly Googling “25 minute timer” for the Google timer, I ran across tomato-timer.com, a page specifically dedicated to helping you time out your pomodoro method.
No, I have no idea why the pomodoro method is named after tomatoes.
Last night I was panicking about my Chapter 7, which is about the most recent data that I’ve acquired and has the potential to be really quite interesting. The main problem is that I can’t see certain patterns when I’d expect to. I had a chat with my supervisor today about those data (and showed them to him in detail along with my modelling), and he seemed to be much less critical about the results than I was. In fact, he even persuaded me that missing the tail I was expecting wasn’t such a big surprise. I’m not sure if I’m convinced yet, I need to think it over a bit more. Still, having someone be generally positive towards ones work has the general effect of cheering one up. Bloody marvelous, darling.
To wrap up the day, I spend a couple of hours with the metaphorical scissors. I cut eight pages by taking multiple figures and smooshing them together into more information-dense versions. I find this quite pleasing, and a nice way to end the day.
Maybe I will manage to finish this beast after all.