In the last week the enormity of the amount of work needed for this MA has really sunk in. Like the majority of my fellow learners, I’m completing the MA part time over two years. This means that I have to hold down a pretty demanding job at the same time.
The last week of so has been hellish, more hellish that normal. Some unexpected tasks at work and preparation for an OFSTED visit (I’m a teacher) meant getting behind on MA reading, and that’s where the motivation issue crops up.
It’s safe to say I’m a morning person, so coming home and starting often complex articles and books on issues I’m not totally familiar with at 8pm is hard work to say the least. It’s tough, and the most difficult thing is to just get started, because that’s when the procrastination hits.
I’ll be honest, I didn’t get very far last night reading up on theories of migration and solidarity, but I do have the most well ordered sock drawer in the world.
Similarly, yesterday I didn’t get very far in plotting my formative assignment plan, but the kitchen is sparkling.
However, I am slowly learning and adapting to the pressure and volume of MA work. It’s getting better and here’s what I’ve learned about myself and my study so far:
1) Make time to study in the part of the day you are most alert.
In reality for me this means Saturday and Sunday morning. I get up early, cook a decent breakfast and get cracking. If I start before 8am, I can go all day. If I haven’t started by 10am, it’s unlikely I’ll get started.
2) Plan shopping in advance.
I know this sounds weird, but this has become important. If I have an excuse of “oh, I’m out of milk” then procrastination invariably derails my study like a train careering off a viaduct. Planning and shopping in advance cuts right across that.
3) Pick assignments that interest you.
Whilst the point of the MA is to become a critical expect, I don’t have to be an expert in absolutely everything in the field. If I’m going to spend hours reading a subject, I want it to be a subject that gives me those wonderful “eureka” moments. A subject that resonates with my experience and interests; and more to the point, one that doesn’t bore me rigid.
4) Be honest about what you don’t know.
. I’ll admit it, I’m shit at economics. You mention ‘quantative easing’, and I’ll ease off into the happy escape place in my head. So, instead of pretending I knew what a lot of the text book were saying I purchased a basic introduction ‘Economics for Dummies’ style book and read that first. Spending time on this book, was a good side projects which has gained me time later.
5) Know your break point.
That’s break point, not breaking point. In other words, the point where I need to get my head out of the books and do something else. Something completely unrelated to the course. I’d like to say that my break activity is something cool and outdoorsy – like climbing mountains or rally car driving. The sad reality is that my breaks usually consist of a cheese sandwich, a nice cup of tea and slowly ploughing my way through that Buffy the Vampire Slayer box set. (Don’t judge me….but for those that want details, I’ve halfway through Series 2).
6) Have a plan. Write it up.
A week’s worth of “what I want to achieve” – and cross them off. Crossing off lists is pretty therapeutic and gives a sense of achievement…or perhaps I’m just a list-obsessed freak. After all I did once make a list entitled “things I like about lists”…..ho hum….but anyway, you get the point……
So that’s it. Some thoughts on where I’m at. I’m no expert at study of this intensity and level, but I seem to be finding my way.
However, despite the hassle, the tiredness, the guilt filled sorting or my sock drawer, I do know this one thing. Already this MA has exposed me to ideas that I would never have come across. It’s challenging my assumptions on everything I knew about unions, it’s quite frankly blowing my mind.
And I love it. And whatever it takes I’m going to make this work.
Now it’s back to the books. The “impact of migration on union strategies”, anyone? Just me then…….