Welcome back all. I hope your past few months were productive and restful. I had a blast.
When I was thinking about easing back into the blogging thing, I thought it good to return to first principles. And what could be more first principlish than a set of fives–the first five things a grad student should add to her psycho-social-survival kit as she walks through those ivy-covered doors. So here goes…
- The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People–Success in any enterprise starts with deciding on your strategy. What are your goals, what do you want to accomplish? Stephen R. Covey’s guide is still the best there is toward starting this part of your journey.
- Getting Things Done–Once you know your goals, you still need to implement them. We all know folks who think big but never finish anything because they can’t seem to get organized. David Allen’s book is perhaps the best there is in setting you on the mindset toward being effective.
- Bird by Bird–To succeed in science you have to write. For most of us, writing is hard. Think of it Anne Lamott’s short book as “Getting Things Done” for writers. It will change your life. Really.
- The EEB Dialectic–In the 1970’s, two fellow grad students, Steven Stearns and Ray Huey, produced two documents that live on as the best introductions to the psychodrama that is grad school. Stearn’s “Some modest advice for graduate students” is a bit hard-edged (its first pearl of wisdom, “Always Prepare for the Worst”, sets its tone rather nicely). But all of it rings true. Huey’s “Some acynical advice for graduate students” begins with the not-so-opposite-as-it-may-sound premise “Always Expect the Best” then rolls on from there. This will be the most informative 20 minutes you spend in graduate school. Print this out and put it somewhere where you’ll encounter it every once in a while. I suggest the bathroom.
- Your hipster PDA and a nice pen–‘Cause you never know when inspiration will hit and you won’t have a copy of The EEB Dialectic to peruse.
Finally, remember to keep your perspective. Sometimes you have to laugh at the absurdity of it all.
ht Matt Groening