Productivity update 9 Sept 09

It’s the ninth of the ninth oh-nine. I don’t remember doing anything special on 8/8/88, but on 7/7/77 I was in high school, and we had a little ceremony in the grounds and danced around a tree.

My obstacles today are my extreme tiredness from a headcold and a wailing cat recovering from knee reconstruction surgery who thinks he should be allowed outside.

I had an all-day Australian history symposium today that I booked for but decided not to go as I had too many other things to do, and I’d already had yesterday afternoon on an English research lecture by Michael Gandy, an excellent speaker, and there’ll be another one tomorrow.

Today I’d like to get these things done:

  1. organise for a quick trip out to Kingswood tomorrow – nearly done – I’ve preordered a probate file but haven’t yet organised what I can do while waiting for other records I have to order out there
  2. tweek the formatting on my essay – to put borders around the table and remove the page number from the title page – stuff like that. I’ve given a draft to my supervisor and don’t want to do anything major to it until He gets back to me. Also if I do anything stupid in Word 2007 due to tiredness it maight take me hours to recover from it.
  3. I could work on my ProGen assignment, that was due at the end of August but is now really due at the end of September. This is looking hopeful, as there is not a lot of invention to do, just putting the facts down. I can edit the writing later – it’s always easier to fix something than to start something.
  4. work on a list of talk topics

Or I could take my cat out in the sun for half-an-hour.

I’d just like to point out, to any new or returning readers, that I’m not making these announcements because I think you might really be interested in what I have to do today. The theory is that if I make a public announcement about it I am more likely to get it done; that I will feel more accountable to you somehow.

It may sound silly but it works.

I’d also like to point out the principle behind point 3 – Getting started on an essay or a piece of writing is nealry always the hardest part for me. I get around it, usually, by reminind myself that it’s a DRAFT and it can be fixed later, and will be. There is much less pressure to be perfect when you know you will have to change it.

The important thing is to START WRITING.

Productive progress 7 September

This essay is really getting me down, but I’m on the last stretch. It’s finished, proofread (first proofread, more to come) and formatted to the required standard. I just need to proofread it again and make the table in the appendix fit into the Word format now that it has 4cm margins. 4 cm all around.

And decide whether the diagrams should be the cutdown versions of the full ones, with all the Colonial Office document classes that I cut out of the essay because it was too long and they are not directly relevant to family history research anyway. I am hoping that my supervisor can advise me here.

Today I’m sorting out some client research from last Friday, reconciling my bank account and PayPal account, and planning the rest of the week.

There, I feel better already!

Last dash

Today I’m making a last dash to finish this essay. Why is it taking so long? Well, partly it’s the need to get client work done first, and volunteer work with its deadlines, partly it’s pure procrastination. And it’s a complex thing I’ve taken on. I spent most of late yesterday afternoon and evening redrawing diagrams with my shiny new flowcharting software, and checking their accuracy.

Today I’m taking the day off from work and I’m determined to finish it, or as near as dammit. This means I have to:

  • finish writing the part of the essay that explains what use the Colonial Office records are to family historians DONE
  • finish writing the part of the essay that explains the document-handling process at the Colonial Office (backed up by the diagrams) DONE, with extra diagram drawn
  • finish writing the part of the essay that explains how to find a document in the Colonial Office records filmed by the AJCP – nearly DONE (I may cut most of it out)
  • finish the diagrams to explain the process of handling correspondence at the Colonial Office and how all the classes of documents fit together – DONE
  • create a cutdown version of my spreadsheet to use as another appendix – nearly DONE
  • write a synopsis – STARTED
  • check all the citations – STARTED
  • reformat to conform to the style-sheet (double-spacing and all that)
  • general tidy-up (incorporating editing down to the maximum number of words allowed) – STARTED

Hmmm. I’d better get on with it then!

[12:53 pm] My 4000-word essay is currently 6024 words and counting, not including footnotes and bibliograpy. Something’s got to go!

[4:04 pm] I’ve started update my list (above) when items are completed. It gives me encouragement to know that I am getting somewhere!

[10:50 pm] still going. I took out the comprehensive overview bit and so removed a thousand words on records that are actually not that much use to family historians. A painful process it was, too!