The PhD Board: August ’11

It’s been a while, largely because for the longest time after moving, I didn’t have a desk. And  now that I finally have some wall space in front of my desk, it’s time to dig out the boards from my parent’s storage room. In the mean time, this tiny board will do.

Yes, I use two laptops while working. Like a boss.


Chapter Four

‎15,154 words

121 footnotes

36 pages*

My draft of Chapter Four (the first chapter of the dissertation I’ve written– I don’t write sequentially) is done. Well, ‘nearly’ done because the last section requires another trip to London’s archives.

A bit excited that I’ve finished something.

Even though I already hate it and want to start over.

*without the last section and the conclusion. I imagine it’ll be over 50 pages once done.

Goals for May

  • Complete draft of Chapter 5 on the history of Eustachian tube catheterization
  • Devise outline for Chapter 6 for upcoming progress meeting with Committee
  • Write and complete presentation for a workshop at the University of Ottawa
  • Write and complete presentation for CSHPS Annual Meeting in Fredericton
  • Edit several articles for Spontaneous Generations journal and track down article due
  • Begin French language instruction
  • Research for another paper to be presented at a conference in Leeds in July…
Above all else: maintain sanity.


It’s been a whirlwind of days since I’ve returned from London.

I first had a lot of catching up to do with friends and family, especially those I didn’t get a chance to see over the holidays. This, of course, meant the first week since my return (and with me battling extreme jet-lag) was nothing but a calendar full of social events, gatherings, and meetings. I am grateful for all of these people in my life so I have no (work) regrets!

It’s amazing how disorganize one can be after spending nearly a month digging through archives and library catalogs. In London, I did my best to keep organized and on top of my research, planning on how I wanted to weave new sources to my arguments. But back in Toronto, my outlines and notes seemed to be incoherent, and at times I couldn’t see why I found a particular quote valuable. It was a weird experience and I thus spent another week trying to make sense of my notes and organize them again. Which I think I might have done….

Then of course, I had to catch up with all the projects I’m involved in, but left them in hiatus while I was gone. Piles of piles of workload and an overdue paper meant I got extremely stressed…and of course, this is the period when illness decided to creep in.


Having said all that, I’m back to the swing of things. Except I find that my work schedule has drastically changed. As of November, as I mentioned previously, I moved from suburbia to Toronto. When I lived in Woodbridge, commuting often dictated the course of my daily schedule. I would either wake up and go to campus to deal with meetings/projects/library books/errands and then go home around late afternoon to work, or I would just wake up early and spend most of the day working and have the evenings off to relax. I found it difficult to keep the same schedule here–mainly that I can’t seem to get any work done before 8pm. There’s WAY too many distractions in the city. I’ve thus had to adjust how I work and how I approach working: evenings are usually the best time for me to think clearly and get some reading and writing done. Which means my new bedtime is now 6am. Unless I have a meeting in the morning, I’ll be sleeping until noon. Yes, you could say I’ve become nocturnal.

This makes me curious: for those of you who are working on your dissertation or have finished it, what schedule works best for you? How do/did you balance daily life with work? What was the best time for you to work?


*Yes, this is a reference to Watson. Or, as a friend humorously put it, the place from whence the robot uprising will spring 😀