DH – Bringing Back Memories… And Advice!

Hello world!

I just presented at DH this past Wednesday – boy, did it feel good to be there from the other side!!

I know I was all over the place, but I wanted to get my advice out there in one cohesive post:

  1. Murphy’s law exists – none of your research will work until 2 months before you defend.
  2. Know thyself – know how you tick, how you tock, how you work, what is the best environment for you and what would distract you the most – that way, you can make the most use of your time!  For me, I knew that I needed to be at school to write, and I took off Sunday – ALL day Sunday.  That was my recharge day 🙂
  3. Eat healthy, stay healthy.
  4. Set a (realistic) date with your committee and make it happen (i.e. make a date, then count backwards for your due-dates!)
  5. Practice in front of your committee members’ students -they can offer valuable insight into questions that your committee member may ask.
  6. Talk to your outside committee member’s students, and find out how they really will act at your defense.  Trust me.
  7. Delegate, delegate, delegate – your friends and family WANT to help you as much as possible!
  8. Find a pattern that works for YOU.  For me, I found that summertime was the most productive for me, so I did all of my studying during that time and had my exams in August, right before school started – besides, all of my committee members were back from vacations and getting ready for the start of classes without there actually being any major obligations!
    1. August 22, 2008 – Lit Review
    2. August 26, 2009 – Candidacy
    3. August 24, 2012 – Defense
  9. Your computer will crash while writing your dissertation.  Back. Up. EVERYTHING.
  10. When you think of something, write it down – somewhere, anywhere!
  11. Make to-do lists, then get rid of them so they don’t pile up
  12. Find your motivation to finish, whether it be a personal goal (like finishing in under 6 years) or a physical event (like a trip to Florida that is not being planned by you), or both!
  13. If you find it hard to write one day (or most days), try setting a timer for 10 minutes and just free-write – no citations, don’t worry about misspellings, who cares about the scientific vernacular – just write.  Before you know it, you may be writing for hours.
  14. Laugh 😀
  15. Know that grad school is not your life.  YOUR life is your life!  Don’t forget to LIVE!

You might be wondering how the last two points fit in to dissertation writing.  They have nothing to do with it, and in fact, they are the exact opposite of what everyone tells you to do.  While I did give up the majority of my social life, I had a constant reminder from my now-fiance that life does not stop while you are in graduate school, and in fact, it does not stop, period.  So, I continued to play in two softball leagues, went to Memphis for my sorority, and even visited my fiance’s father in North Carolina.  I will admit, before every softball game and every trip, I felt guilty about leaving my work.  But once I was there, I did not regret going, playing, laughing, and, even for just an hour, forgetting that I had my dissertation that I needed to finish.

And I still don’t regret it to this day.

I still finished, I still have those three letters behind my name, and I still walked across the stage in December.

So, no matter what anyone tells you, the biggest piece of advice that I can offer is this:  Don’t forget to live while you’re writing.  Have a Starbucks date with a good friend every week, or a game night for a few hours.  Whatever it is, find a way to recharge, take a step back from grad school, and breathe.

For those of you still working towards your Ph.D., I offer you the following video:

When you decide to complete  your dissertation, don’t think about failure, and don’t daydream (at least all the time) about the celebration after your defense.  Think about it a different way: You are making your own stamp in the history books!  Don’t think about how many people have tried and failed before you – don’t look at how all of the odds are stacking up against you.  You need to push through and just be the best YOU can be!  You need to give 100% to your dissertation, because WE ALL care about you finishing!

How many times have we, as grad students, said, “It is SO this year!… well, maybe not…?” NOT. THIS. YEAR!  Make 2013 YOUR year!!  You have the power to do that!

Who are you?  Graduate students!  But soon you will be able to drop that second word, and become GraduateS!!

Here’s to you – may 13 be your luckiest number this year!!

 

Margaret, Ph.D. 🙂

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Done for the Weekend!

Good evening, world!

After today, I am taking off for the weekend!  My reduction can go for a number of days, so I would be more than happy to just leave it, save some gas, and come in next week to finish up everything!

I had a bit of a scare this morning – I thought that (another) reaction did not work! I was devastated, and ready to give up, but after looking at my NMR thoroughly, I discovered that it HAD actually worked, and it just needed another cleaning!  WOOHOO!!  So I washed my product again, took another NMR, and found that it was pure!  Sweeeettttt….

OK, so without further ado, status of today’s goals:

  1. Work up reaction, take NMR.
  2. Start reduction, allow to go overnight.
  3. Go through August and September 2011 emails.
  4. Go through Career Fair information – organize, put dates in calendar, respond to email, etc.
  5. Email relay team – must must do this!
  6. Update ORISE information.
  7. KD emails.
  8. Update KD Facebook pages.

UGH not as productive as I wanted, but I have time tomorrow!

Goals for next week:

  1. Work up reduction, start reflux and allow to go overnight.
  2. Strap on my job helmet and apply to more jobs…
  3. Update lab notebook.

Quote for today: (Real Simple Daily Thought 10/4/2012)

Daily Thought Image 10-04-12

 

 

Til next week!

 

Margaret

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Getting There Slowly…

Good evening, world,

So I know I haven’t posted in a couple of days, but I have been busy!  Yesterday, unfortunately, I redid my NMR to find out that the reaction barely worked, and the SM degraded, and it was, in general, a not-so-good day.  But luckily I already had a to-do list of other things I needed to complete, so that kept me going somewhat:  status for goals:

  1. Redo NMR
  2. Start reduction, allow to react overnight. –not necessary, but instead, I started a different reaction and allowed that to react overnight.
  3. Update CV and Cover Letter for Career Fair on Wednesday.
  4. Print out copies of CV and cover letter.
  5. Go through Conference books and discard/modify as needed.
  6. Go through at least November 2011 emails to continue uncluttering inbox.
  7. Continue to get postdoc postings together and send out emails, if not finished. –got some more postdoc listings together, but decided to wait until after career fair to email/apply
  8. Email relay team regarding race in a week and a half. –did not do this, but I got information today on some things so I will send out the email later.
  9. Gym – running. –fiance was not feeling well, so we stayed in instead.

Today, I mainly had the career fair, which was rather successful in my opinion, and also had lunch with an old friend which lasted 3 hours!!  Can you tell I was not into working in the lab today?  That’s alright – I will just have to get things done tomorrow then!

Goals for tomorrow:

  1. Work up reaction, take NMR.
  2. Start reduction, allow to go overnight.
  3. Go through August and September 2011 emails.
  4. Go through Career Fair information – organize, put dates in calendar, respond to email, etc.
  5. Email relay team – must must do this!
  6. Update ORISE information.
  7. KD emails.
  8. Update KD Facebook pages.

I think that should keep me going for a while!

Quote for today:  (Real Simple Daily Thought 9/7/2012)

Daily Thought Image 9-07-12

 

Til tomorrow!

Margaret

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Well, hello motivation. How have you been?

Hello, world!

Just to give you an update on my goals for today:

  1. Order academic regalia for graduation.
  2. Work up coupling reaction.
  3. 1H NMR of reaction.
  4. Calculate amounts for reduction. –Need to redo the NMR, so will save this for tomorrow!
  5. Go through catalogs on top of desk and discard/disperse as needed.
  6. Go through at least December 2011 emails to start uncluttering inbox.
  7. Get postdoc postings together and send out emails.
  8. Softball.

Check check check!  And I’m on my way to play softball now!  Woohoo!!  Feeling more motivated already 🙂

Til tomorrow!

 

Margaret

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I’m bbaaaaacccckkkkk!!

Hello world!

I know it has been about a month since I posted last, but based on some focusing issues that I’ve been having lately, I figured I would start blogging once again!

As an update, I was able complete my goals of getting everything done before my vacation to Florida, and I was very very happy to be able to finally RELAX!!  Florida was wonderful, and on a personal note, while there, my boyfriend proposed!  WWWOOOOHOOOO!!!  I am engaged!!  😀 😀 😀  Life was wonderful and great and fantastic!

And then reality hit, and hit hard.  After I came back, I had definitely decided to finish up my project so I could get a paper out of it.  But my advisor isn’t paying me.  In fact, I haven’t had a paycheck since mid-August.  And I haven’t heard back from the government position that I interviewed for back in July.  My fiance is getting worried, but he is trying not to stress me out about finding a job.  I have my references lined up and ready to go, and have been applying everywhere.. to no avail.

I have started dipping into my savings account to pay for the regalia rental (~$180!!!!), and I have been very very mindful of what I spend money on.  I am fortunate, to say the least, that my fiance budgets very well, and can afford to take care of the grocery and eating-out bills – the major bills in the house that I normally help out with.  I have enough in my checking account to help pay my portion of the rent until the end of this month.  After that, I will be dipping even further into my savings account that I worked so hard to build up while I was in graduate school.  But that is one of the reasons that I built it up so much – so that I would have some money just in case I didn’t have a job…

But now I have to think about paying for a wedding as well.  Even though Josh and I have decided it will be two years from now, we must start saving now!

Anyway, I haven’t been that motivated to finish this project (who would, with not getting paid and all?), but the more days I come into school, the more gas I am burning that I really can’t afford anymore!!

Thus, I am starting to blog, once again, with goals and motivational quotes for all!  So, to get started, here are the OVERALL GOALS for the end of October:

  • Finish synthesis, characterize, give to advisor.
  • Clean up desk space at school.
  • Apply to more postdocs.
  • Find a way to make some sort of income in case everything falls through – basically, going through my things at home and holding a garage sale/ebay/craigslist to sell them – if anybody has another idea, feel free to let me know!

I’m sure there are other things to do, but I believe those are more personal than anything else and do not belong here anyway 🙂

Goals for today:

  1. Order academic regalia for graduation.
  2. Work up coupling reaction.
  3. 1H NMR of reaction.
  4. Calculate amounts for reduction.
  5. Go through catalogs on top of desk and discard/disperse as needed.
  6. Go through at least December 2011 emails to start uncluttering inbox.
  7. Get postdoc postings together and send out emails.
  8. Softball.

Goals for tomorrow:

  1. Start reduction, allow to react overnight.
  2. Update CV and Cover Letter for Career Fair on Wednesday.
  3. Print out copies of CV and cover letter.
  4. Go through Conference books and discard/modify as needed.
  5. Go through at least November 2011 emails to continue uncluttering inbox.
  6. Continue to get postdoc postings together and send out emails, if not finished.
  7. Email relay team regarding race in a week and a half.
  8. Gym – running.

AHHH I feel like there is so much to do, but I feel a little better by making small lists and trying to break up larger tasks into smaller goals!  Let’s get cracking!!  (AGAIN!)

Quote for today:  Real Simple Daily Thought 9/25/2012

Daily Thought Image 9-25-12

 

Margaret, Ph.D. 🙂

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Oh what a beautiful morning! :D

Good morning, world!

I am writing today as a Ph.D.!  YES!  I successfully defended my dissertation on Friday, but have been very busy with my parents who left Tuesday and my corrections that I haven’t had time to write in my blog until now 🙂  I had minor revisions, which I completed Tuesday night, and got them approved by my advisor Wednesday morning!  As of Wednesday afternoon,  I’m DONE DONE DONE!

The best and easiest way to describe the feeling after the examination process was over and my advisor shook my hand and said “Congratulations,” can be summed up in one word:

RELIEF!

I did not realize during the process exactly HOW stressed I really was until I saw my committee members give me huge smiles and I popped open that first bottle of champagne!  Since that day, my acne has started to clear up and I’ve already started to lose some weight.  I probably need a little more sleep, but overall, I’m in a much better headspace than before!

I’m loving life right now, although life is definitely playing catch up with me!!  I spent two days sorting through backlogged emails that I “SWORE” I would read again (not), facebook messages I never replied to, and updating my CV and personal, professional and social networking sites.  PHEW!

 

And I’m STILL not done yet!

 

I’m also looking at jobs and preparing to apply.  It’s a lot, but it’s all well-worth it!

Since I will be on vacation next week, I need to get as much done as possible on the work side of things.  I think I’ve accomplished that for the most part, although I have a lot to catch up with in terms of my sorority work yet… YIKES! I haven’t even TOUCHED that inbox yet!!  :O

Anyway, life is grand now that everything is official, but getting there was definitely an uphill battle.  For those of you still in the PhD process, there WILL be times when you want to quit and give up.  There will be days that nothing will go as planned (more often than not!).  Most of your research will not work, except in the last 2 months before you defend (Murphy’s Law, perhaps?).  Your advisor will not seem to be helpful at times, and there will be times when you feel that it is absolutely impossible.

For all those times, let me offer a little advice: GO HOME.  Take a bubble bath.  Call out sick the next day.  Sleep in.  Take a long lunch break, or a ridiculously long coffee break (you hear me, Twinny?! 😉 ).    In essence, do something else, take a mental health day for yourself, or else you will burn out.

And then take a deep breath, and take another look at the problem.  If you find yourself without the motivation, try bargaining with yourself (only work for 5-10 minutes, and sometimes, that’s all you need to get rolling!).  REWARD YOURSELF when you’ve completed something, no matter how small it is, even if it’s a that Snickers bar that you’ve been craving ALL DAY!

I found that the following quote helped me a lot as well when I was in those difficult times:

“When you feel like giving up, remember why you held on for so long in the first place.” – Unknown

Remember why you’re in graduate school, and that there is an end to this madness.  Do what you need to do, and get out.  That’s when real life begins…

And that’s exactly where I am right now 🙂

Good luck, good night, and it’s time for Happy Hour drinks for me 🙂

 

 

Margaret

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Last Day as a Graduate STUDENT!

Good morning, world!

I am in final preparation mode.  I am as ready as I can be for this.  I had a dry run this morning, including waking up, getting ready (not completely, but still…), and leaving on time and driving to work.  I am SO glad I did this, because it took me an HOUR to get through the traffic!  Thus, I will be leaving at least 30-45 minutes earlier tomorrow morning.

I’ve determined that the best way to prep for tomorrow is the great advice I gave to Twinny, which she also used and aided her in succeeding – Get to school early, run through the entire presentation, mess up, stumble and flop through it by yourself, and when the time comes for the actual presentation, you will be great 🙂

Although I’m very nervous right now, I know it’s normal.  I mean, come on!  I’m summarizing my life in graduate school in 40 minutes, and the 5 people of my committee decide my fate.  How can anyone NOT be nervous about that?

But I’ve prepared the best that I can, got some great feedback, and I’m ready to rock and roll… and hopefully hit it out of the park.

For now, it’s time to go home, and while my mom is getting her hair cut, I’ll be reading my dissertation and going through my slides with my newish transitions.

T-minus 22 hours.. tick tock tick tock.. hopefully in 24 hours, I can officially place those three letters after my name 🙂

Quote for today: (Real Simple Daily Thought 8/20/2012)

 

Quote for tomorrow: (Real Simple Daily Thought 8/10/2012)

 

Margaret, ABD 🙂

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