Purpose of the post and timeline
Despite it’s quite personal to me, I think that others may learn from my errors. Furthermore, those are mostly general statements that doesn’t uncover any sensitive information that I would be unwilling to publish.
At least my future self can learn.
- 2014 Oct – started research, topic was quite new to me
- 2014 Nov–2015 Jan – first ideas, learnt internals to design it better
- 2015 Feb–2015 Mar – spending time on another project – mistake
- 2015 Apr–2015 May – actual implementation, slower than expected
- 2015 Jun – studying and passing final exams, initiating thesis text, researching deeper and being disappointed by misdirection of my previous research and its effect on design
- 2015 Jul – the month I could finish if I fought, but I failed instead (and this text should analyze and rationalize reasons for that)
- See Updates section for details.
The following text is divided into three parts:
- general observations – personally perceived wisdoms that might be generally useful,
- personal – list of my feelings, for future reference,
- outer perception – what I think is important from other people’s point of view.
Interrupts are hard to recover
Any pause due to other activities or taking a rest to get a fresh view causes a context loss that is hard to recover, i.e. rejoining requires greater effort than uninterrupted work.
Bad feelings amplification
Aka positive feedback with negative consequences. You didn’t work sufficiently, you feel bad, it decreases your performance so you don’t work sufficiently.
Once you wake up late, you feel bad you lost your day (e.g. whole forenoon), it debilitates your attempts to work. Later, you can’t fall asleep – you are not physically tired and mentally satisfied (no sleep of the righteous). Instead of using insomnia time for work, you fill it with cheap joys.
Once you are not satisfied with results of your work, you begin to feel sad. To compensate for this, you start looking for joys that are accessible with less effort (YouTube, forums, food etc.).
Not working gives you time to think negatively
When you don’t work, your mind is not occupied. Instead, the mind is free to start thinking negatively and nurture a bad mood.
Effectively, you are prevented from doing anything useful. You don’t work on the thesis, since you are blocked by the futility. On the other hand, you don’t work on anything else neither, since you should be working on the thesis, right?
Be honestly humble, earthbound
Having big expectations is nice when fantasizing. However, it can be destructive when you realize you can’t achieve those goals.
Thesis == documentation
I haven’t heard about a programmer that would like to write a documentation. I’m not a scientist, my thesis needn’t to communicate great/novel research ideas to others (at least on some level). Thesis thus seems like just an addendum to the code that inherently bears the ideas itself.
Home office sucks
For most of my live, I’ve done useful work at other places than home (school, workplace). At home, I mostly relaxed, enjoyed hobbies and did meta-activities (food preparation, tidying, etc.). This grew a conditional reflex in my mind: you are at home, you don’t work.
Similar goes for hot weather (I usually spent summers out of school, doing my hobbies, not duties).
Also another case of a conditional reflex/false deduction. Everything cool you’ve done so far took you not negligible amount of time. However, the reverse is not true – it needn’t to take long to be great. Thus you figuratively burn your time for an illusion, it’ll result in greater good.
The more robust and general system you want to design, the more factors you have to take into account. Naturally, it’s not possible to predict results of all design decisions in advance, thus it leads to doubts about everything and hesitating with actions.
It’s widely known that deadlines increase productivity. With tongue in the cheek, your instantaneous productivity rises towards deadline and attains infinity right at the moment of the deadline.
Without intermediate deadlines, you can always find something with higher priority or try spending time on the best possible solution.
Here are some more personal/internal feelings.
- Lack of faith – self-confidence and thesis project in general.
- Not persuaded that I can finish it during the month (referring to July).
- Probably, I internally gave up at the end of June.
- When I accepted the defeat – I was unblocked and could start work again.
- I was waiting for a start of new (professional) job. Not feeling that bad about doing nothing and looking forward for the end of the struggle.
- Everyone knows everyone, I feared having a bad reputation for poor result (not the thesis, the design and the code).
This is how I’ll be looked at (and how I’d look at other people in such situation).
- Lack of will.
- Lack of motivation, dedication.
- Advice: Give a shit, be pragmatic, get a degree.
- Why I didn’t start earlier?
- At least time pressure makes me work and I can keep it all in my head.
- (I realized, I did some high Stackoveflow score and Project Euler problems in the spring.)
- I did make it (submitted, not defended yet).
- If my thesis were a piece of cloth, let’s say a jacket, it would look like following. You would see it’s well designed, though instead of sleeves there would be just a post-it note saying “Sleeve here”, the pockets would be just holes and you could see threads (fibrils :-p) sticking out of everywhere. And the accompanying text would elaborate on the customer who ordered the jacket, then would talk about coats that other people wear and in the end, there would be written why you created the hole instead of pockets, however, it wouldn’t say why did you decide to tailor a jacket when the customer was complaining about being cold.
- I thought my weakness is over. Nope, striking again during defense preparation.