100 Days – Summary of a motivational experiment

So, I did it. I finished my challenge of 100 days of dissertation on Friday. I wrote about the idea for this challenge here in this post. You can see all my steps on my instagram account – I have to admit that there are not a lot of pics, because I was really busy working on my revisions and corrections. 😉

So, how did I spent those 100 days? To be honest, the challenge says to spent every day some time on your thesis – or the thing you want to accomplish within 100 days. And I admit it, I did non spent every day on my thesis. It’s impossible – even, if there wouldn’t be a pandemic experience around…

I started a 100 days-challenge once and I lost track – I think, after one week or so. Sarah and I had a talk about it and she, too, told me that she just forgot about it and did not go on after about five days. When we discussed the topic of this post, I thought about telling you about my successful 100 days, but then I thought about telling you the tricks and difficulties I had to struggle with.

And yes, well, Covid-19 and the whole Lockdown-things and the world just closed until further notice, was one difficulty. But – it is somehow good to know that we are all struggling with the situation. We are all scared or worried about our parents and grandparents and we are all really sick of staying at home and not seeing our friends in real life. I talked with a lot of people about it and it helped. In a very weird way, but it helped.

I did corrections on a 190 pages text – I cut out at least 40 pages, I re-wrote about the half and now I have about 230 pages. Not bad for 100 days, right? And my supervisor liked it – at least, chapter 1 to 6. I finished my last chapter on Fridays, parts of it are completely new and I am not so sure about it. This is also a huge problem. If you are currently working on a text of this kind – a thesis – then you are in danger to totally loose yourself inside your research material and then you will get stuck and desoriented.

So, what do you need for your 100 days?

  1. A plan. What do you want to accomplish in 100 days?
    In my case: finish my corrections and the revisions. And I did great. But it was a whole thesis, so, it was a really hard time I gave myself.
  2. Treat yourself well – breaks are a must. In fact, I planned every step – after each chapter, which I sent to my supervisors, I decided to do nothing, at least nothing thesis-related. I spent some days binge-watching and binge-reading, drawing and gardening. It is hard, I am a perfectionist. But I found my routine. When finishing a chapter, I will spent at least two days with this program:physical exercise and fresh air
                    • having a nice hair and/or face mask
                    • manicure and pedicure
                    • a good meal and a good dessert 🙂
                    • reading my current favorite book
                    • watching one of my favorite movies
                    • spending some hours with friends and family
                    • sleeping and napping AF
  3. Talk about it. It can be so frustrating doing all those things without talking about it.
    It is important that you talk; about erverything, even about your problems. And I had a lot of them. And I had a lot of good experiences and I told my friends about it.
  4. Track your steps – just to make them visible.
    There are those long and lonely days when you feel like you didn’t get anything right at all. But hey, you did at least think about your challenge for at least 10 minutes or so – even baby steps do matter. You are doing your best. Sometimes the best is just gettign out of bed, reading three pages and deleting a paragraph because you stayed up late and wrote crap. It happens. I know it does. I am really great in writing crap late at night… 😉 But then, who isn’t?
  5. Even if you could not get anything done three days in a row or longer, DON’T YOU DARE GIVING UP! You keep going.
    Part of this challenge is to accept yourself and that you are human after all. I thought about giving up the challenge at least ten times – the last two weeks I was totally lost and crazy and overthinking and I wanted to give up at least three times. I guess this is because I am really near to an end. A real and definite end.

Actually, I found a good routine. I note down my progress, I note down why some things did not work out that well. And I allowed myself to be lazy sometimes. I was procrastinating a lot, because I was worried about my performance. I have absolutely no tip for you how to avoid those feelings. How did I manage it? I just got my ass up. No, it is not easy. But, after all, I am trying to finish my PhD thesis. Just think about how many people have a PhD – right. If it would be easy, everybody will do it.

No offense here, but it is hard work and sometimes you have to get your ass up and do it. And I did a lot of work while cursing on my 27-year-old me who was that stupid to start a PhD. And I know that in twenty years I will possibly be smiling while thinking about my 30-year-old me who actually did the job.

We are all in this together. Wherever you are and whatever you are trying to do – breath. Think. You can do this. Even the bad days only last 24h and will get over. You have made it this far. You can be proud. And there will be great things in your future and all because YOU. ARE. STAR. MATERIAL.

So, stay fierce and fighting, dear warriors of academia. You can do this. 😉

Stay safe, y’all.
Astrid

 


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1 Response

  1. 31/08/2020

    […] I think the original idea of the “X consecutive days of XYZ” challenge is better for some extracurricular personal projects that’s very concrete and also not so huge that it feels “never-ending” (like your dissertation does). Using this challenge for a work project kind of takes out the fun (at least for me personally). Sticking with your commitment for 100 days straight is no easy feat and it doesn’t get easier once it feels like a chore. Also, it’s easier to stick with a more or less “X consecutive days” logic if the project is actually shaped in a way that it makes sense to do a mini-ritual instead of something longer on days where life gets in the way (like I recommened in the initial post). I felt that there just isn’t a point in doing this with my dissertation, so maybe it’s not the greatest application for these sorts of challenges – unless it really works for you, of course. […]

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