7. Part time work. This is a pearler because it gives you the illusion of productivity and it generates an essential output: cash. The time spent doing part time work seems very productive because there are either clear goals to aim for or a boss making sure that you are on track. The deadlines MUST be met! Hang the PhD, I’ve got 80 undergraduate lab reports to mark instead.
8. The weather. This sounds like a weird one. But I am an avid fan of the Bureau of Meteorology’s website and sometimes check it at least three times a day. I'm not especially interested in the weather either but I do like to know if I'll have to walk home in the rain...
9. Stationery. Visit Officeworks (conveniently located two minutes walk from the Sydney campus) and pick out manila folders, highlighters, and those snazzy in- and out- trays that you’ve always wanted and that will make you super-productive and organised. Officeworks also has a very efficient cooling system. The Gunn building is not air-conditioned, so on the swelteringly hot summer days (when all of the undergraduates are cavorting on the beaches for three months while the hapless postgraduates slog it out in a sweaty office), you’ll often run into some of your friends deliberating over the range of liquid papers in aisle three.
10. List writing. This is my all-time favourite. When I’m feeling like my PhD life is completely out of control and I have a billion things to do, I like to write to do lists. This is good because it gets the amorphous cloud of scary impending deadlines and small yet essential tasks down on paper and in some sort of order. However, if the list is particularly long (which it mostly gets if you’ve had a really bad week of procrastination or you’ve been out of the office on fieldwork or at a conference for a few days), I do the old chestnut of writing out a weekly schedule, which takes a long time in itself to do. This would be fine if I could stick to the schedule, but inevitably it is unrealistically punishing and it ends up being tweaked, rejigged, reworked, and finally scrapped when its demands cannot be met.
That’s it. Thank you to all of my lovely postgraduate friends for furnishing me with such shining examples of time-wasting, and hopefully not minding that I’ve posted them up here for all and sundry to see!