Monday, May 03, 2010

Fewer Things, Better

One of the blogs I enjoy reading is Study Hacks. Cal has some good insights, and the background and research to back it. So I've rearranged my week slightly to focus on a few things, at a time, and just do them. Here's my life as a grad student.

8am get into the study room. My computer is set to block most distracting sites from 8:15 onwards, so I have a brief chance to check in on a few internet things, if I'm not running late.
Then, I hit the languages for about 2 hrs. I spend time working on Greek, Latin, Hebrew, and Gaelic. The first 3 are core languages in decreasing importance for my study areas. Gaelic I pursue just for interest, but I find I need to slot it in here otherwise I neglect it entirely. I try and wrap up language stuff around 10-10:30.

The rest of my day is dictated by what day it is:

Monday I need to get a lecture outline done for Wednesday night, so I spend some time getting that out of the way first. Then I spend the day reading. I was reading slices of books, and swapping between books, but I've reconsidered and decided just to read straight through the same work until I've finished whatever I need to.
Tuesday is writing day. It's also the day the post-grads have prayer, then lunch, then coffee together. So that takes some time out of the day. Besides that I just try and write something that should go in the final product.
Wednesday I have to spend about 4 hrs preparing for giving 2 Church History lectures in the evening, so that's my major focus, and I don't worry about getting anything else done, but if I get a chance I will.
Thursday is translation day. I spend a bit of time on a Chrysostom text unrelated to my thesis, and other time on bits of the homilies. The aim is to spend as much time in the Greek as possible.
Friday is primary analysis day. I work on the primary texts for my thesis, marking down comments and analysis that will form the major section of my thesis.

6 hrs or so is so obviously too long to sit at a desk, if one wants to maintain anything like a good level of retention and focus. So I go over to the gym for an hour/hour and a half, as well as have a lunch break of 30-60mins (I prefer the shorter side, but sometimes things take longer. This allows me to break my focus, get some exercise, and work more efficiently. I try and wrap it up at 4:45 and get to the train station by 5.

The other thing I'm trying to do, is read less, and older. I have a tendency to want to read lots of books, but I need to keep in mind C.S. Lewis's words from his introduction to Athanasius' De Incarnatione, "It is a good rule, after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between. If that is too much for you, you should at least read one old one to every three new ones." Especially since my field is Patristics! So, in my languages work, I'm reading slowly through Ignatius of Antioch's Epistles, and Augustine's Confessions. Apart from that I've set up a reading list to get through a list of major patristic works, things to read on the train in particular. I've started in on Justin Martyr's First Apology.

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