Free time to work

April 6, 2009

I have the quarter off from teaching, which means it’s the perfect time to get some serious work done on my thesis. The fact that the work that it most important in my life is also the least urgent—I could do nothing for six months and no one would know or care—means I have to be especially disciplined with myself. To that end, I’m putting aside big tracts of time that are to be devoted to my work.

I feel like I’ve finally started to get the good work habits and general resolve in place. Becoming disciplined in this way was one of my original goals when I came to graduate school.

Unfortunately, the work that I’m looking at right now is in danger of devolving into long strings of algebraic manipulation with no clear end in sight. There’s a difference between devloting time to working and working well. With math as with so many things, the best flow opens up when you’re on a certain kind of a roll. Sadly, there seems to be so much to interrupt said roll in mathematics: so many slippery details that get away from you.

I had a professor once say that you only do an hour of work in graduate school: it just needs two years of preparation to make it happen.

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