What-a-mess: organising and planning the thesis

I get told all the time that I am very organised and efficient. Once when I worked in a department store, my colleague squealed with excitement when she saw how I had folded a table of men’s t-shirts and jumpers.  I must admit, the corners were sharp and looked great. I have also had people gasp at all the little extra attention to detail I bring to organising events. I would think of every possible scenario and plan for it. At school people called me Mary Poppins as my bag was always full of useful things. I have never seen Mary Poppins so never quite got the reference, but I assumed that was what they meant – or was it because I wore a long, full skirt and liked to yodel?

But although I love this praise (who doesn’t) now as a PhD student I feel a little bit uncomfortable because I worry that I am using my organisational ability as a smokescreen for my lack of intellectual ability. Being able to organise a messy cupboard is not quite the same as organising a literature review or structure a thesis or plan a big project.

I do not feel very organised at the moment, so that is why I feel odd when people seem to think I am – it’s a lie, they do not know the truth. I can’t seem to properly plan my time. Or even organise my notebooks. I start one, then another and then another and they are just full of nonsensical scribbles. I don’t even use a pencil case or have a neat desk. Sometimes I don’t even have a pack of plasters in my bag. And today I forgot my railcard and was sweating and panicking that a ticket inspector would catch me.

I want to do a really excellent project. I want to contribute something exciting. I want to do the research in a really robust way. I want to pass my thesis with flying colours. I want to become intelligent and for people to marvel at my amazing insights and squeal at my work just as my colleague in the department store squealed at my folding ability.

Perhaps this will happen one day – if I can get my act together and go to bed that is – but I have unfinished chores to do, back to pack, papers to print for tomorrow and where is my railcard? Oh, what-a-mess!


The real me


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