Day 1: Small improvements every day

A few days ago I published a video on perfectionism and not waiting for conditions to be perfect before starting the work.

The way this usually manifests itself among PhD students is that they spend far too long “reading more” in preparation and missing out on gaining practical experience.

In order to break my own bad habits, I’ve set myself the challenge of recording and posting a short video every day for the next 60 days. They won’t be perfect, but by making small improvements every day they can get a lot better.

Even doing these very simple videos, small unexpected challenges come up. But because I’m not over-complicating things and am accepting imperfection, they are manageable!

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12 thoughts on “Day 1: Small improvements every day

  1. Especially now in summer with lots of people doing vacations and offering tempting plans I am very keen on not taking more than 1.5 days off per week. Every day a little bit will make a lot of difference in 2 months. Thanks, James.

  2. This is great advice, and comforting as I’ve literature just emailed the 3rd draft of my discussion chapter to my supervisor, a day late (!) – even though the last section is missing and still quite a lot of repetition! In my experience correction follows at every stage, but learning to tell myself this is an inevitable part of the journey 😉

    • The way to avoid repetition is to know what you’ve already said!

      Often, when people just write whatever comes to mind, they don’t take the time to establish each point properly and important sentences get lost in the middle of paragraphs about other things. When this happens it is very hard to edit! I think it’s better to write with a clear focus for each section so you can establish just a few key points and then move on knowing that you don’t have to say it again.

      • Thanks James! Very helpful advice. I’m finding it tough getting back into my PhD after two months of other things. Will get started on something simple tonight! Look forward to your next video.

  3. I enjoyed your video.
    In the spring, I just had to write something/anything down to get going and to sort out my ideas. Now I am more careful with ideas and am solving problems better, but I do feel the need to read more articles. I will find some practical work to keep me grounded!
    Thanks!

  4. This sounds true. I have realized one has to write whatever idea comes into one’s head. Correction will follow at some stages

    • I wouldn’t exactly say write whatever comes into your head. I know a lot of people do this whenever they are stuck, but it can lead to many serious problems if it is your first response to writer’s block.

      The point is to do a little, then see how you can improve it in some small way. If you don’t take time to learn how to improve, then you can end up writing 10s of thousands of useless words, with no idea how to edit them.

  5. Thank you. I am sure it will work with me. At least it gives me enthusiasm to start the academic writing that has been neglected for long time. This what I feel now. From today and on I will struggle to devide my time between my thesis and the book I want it be completed this year.
    It’s great I will keep following your all encouraging work you are providing.

  6. Very helpful-thank you–just trying to dive into my work in any way that I can
    Wendy, (PhD student in write up phase)

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