While attending summer school at Zurich University, Switzerland, blogger Nadya Karimasari got some inspiration on how to organise her PhD research.
Zurich gives me the impression of being very organised, orderly, and extremely detailed. It aims for the greatest accuracy of predictability. It tries to anticipate and minimise any possibilities of things going wrong. Hence, people’s daily life can run as smoothly as possible.
This high degree of order and organisation manifests at its best in how the public transport works. The trams buses, and trains are absolutely on time. They also have a monitor inside the vehicle that shows how many minutes away you are from your connecting trams or trains. So, you could predict and anticipate how fast you should run to your next tram, or whether or not you have enough time to grab some coffee and a croissant before continuing your journey.
I wish I could be more like Zurich in terms of organising my PhD research. Perhaps it is good to have a set of predictable working routines. It is also significant to allocate some time to relax, otherwise PhD candidates could burn out, feeling stuck, having difficulties in finding inspiration, and need longer time to recover before getting back to the groove and having those juicy flows (or hops) of thoughts again.
Another thing that helps is to set small goals that build up to bigger goals. These can be monthly, weekly, or daily goals, depending on how detailed you want to be. By setting smaller goals, PhD candidates could lay out what tasks actually need to be done in order to create the final “product” of a good research. By making the small tasks visible, it becomes more manageable.
At the end of the day, every person has their own style that fits and works best for them. The point of making a better organisation of our research is to help us maintain our sanity while doing intense research, and avoid getting entangled in a disarray of having to do too much while having too little time. Hopefully through a better tasks organisation, we could avoid unnecessary stress and enjoy our research process – and life in general – a bit more.
Nadya is a PhD candidate at the chair group Sociology of Development and Change