In order to maximize productivity, and in the name of curbing some of my distractions (oh all right--my biggest distraction) , I am going to try an experiment next week. Starting this evening, I am going to seriously restrict my internet usage for one week. By restrict, I mean that I am not going to use it for anything except work (which would entail email and using the library for research). Even with my email, I am going to designate "email check" times--maybe three times a day near meal times. I am one of those people who keeps his email inbox totally free of unread items, which means that I am constantly checking it. It's pretty ridiculous, actually.
The biggest "sacrifice" will be leaving my Google Reader RSS feed aggregator alone for the whole week. I rarely surf the internet anymore, preferring to have my interests sucked nicely into a common place via rss feeds. But I have A LOT of subscriptions and get hundreds of updates every day. I probably spend at LEAST an hour throughout the day cruising through them. Next Saturday, when I break the fast, I'll post some stats on how many unread items I have. My guess? I think it will be well over 1000.
What am I going to do instead? Read. I have several books I need to read in addition to the articles assigned as part of my regular week's work. A friend of mine (in my cohort in the program) and I were talking about the difficulty of diving into scholarship in the field without much theoretical training to support the jump. We were both Lit majors and started the program without MAs, so swimming through professional scholarship can be a bit rough, especially when those scholars base their arguments or use as examples prominent, complicated critical theory. For example, in my current study of Visual Rhetoric, many of the articles that I am reading site semiotics, structuralism and post structuralism as important theoretical concepts for their analysis. But if I have never done much study of those theories (and considering that even the theory that I have done some study of is very abstract--as theory tends to be--and therefore difficult to completely grasp), it makes reading the article very difficult. I suppose this is the case for a lot of new graduate students, so rather than complain anymore, I am going to take on the problem on my own. In the future, I am going to have "theory Saturdays" where I spend at least an hour on the weekend away from the assigned texts of that week and focus on one or two of the theorists mentioned in the readings. Summer will also be a good time to get my theory on...feasting on knowledge.
But since it's crunch time, I just need to read as much as I can all the time, thus the timely fast. Fasting from food, as I know from past experience, always gives me a feeling of (hunger) cleansing clarity in my corporeal constitution, so I am hoping this will do the same for my mind, man. Groovy.