- Start working from home. It’s lonely but it allows you to have whatever writing schedule you need every day and keeps you from distracting yourself by hanging out with your labmates. Only go to lab for mandatory meetings with your advisor or to get information out of your lab notebooks.
- Teach your labmates all your lab jobs (editing websites, taking over the lab safety and hazardous waste removal jobs, etc) for you while you are out. They will do them so beautifully and without asking very many questions. For this, you are forever grateful.
- Sometimes working from home means going to a coffeeshop and drinking a cappuccino while working. Your advisor agrees to meet you at the coffeeshop so you don’t have to go all the way into lab to meet with her. Also sometimes your labmates will join you.
- Work every day for 1.5 months straight, taking breaks when you need them but never taking a break that lasts for an entire day.
- Get on an antidepressant that reminds you to eat and sleep on a semi regular basis despite all the anxiety and stress you constantly feel. As soon as you defend, you can get off of it but for now, it’s necessary.
- Go home to California for a week and write feverishly at the desk you used to do your homework at in high school. Your parents will make you tasty food, force you to take breaks when you need them, and cheer you on. Plus one or both of them will stay up late every night playing on their tablets while you write so you won’t be as lonely.
- Exercise at least a little every day. It helps break up the monotony and the lamity of sitting at a desk all day and it reminds you that you are a human – not a writing machine. Soccer, swimming, running, and biking work pretty well. Take Cobalt on your exercise adventures if he’s around.
- Attend two of your friends’ weddings. Weddings let you take a break from your stress bubble and remind you that you are surrounded by wonderful people. :)
- Let Cobalt take you to a movie sometimes. It’s nice to do stuff with just Cobalt even though you are a stress ball.
- Go to the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta with Cobalt, your sister in law, niece, and nephew because it’s great to spend time with people you love and also because the balloons are majestic and awesome to photograph.
- Learn how to use Adobe Illustrator in 3 days (your skills expand drastically when you NEED to make Figures)
- Go suit shopping with your friends the day you turn in your thesis. This is great because you get to shop for fancy adult clothes in celebration of turning in something epic and also you really need a suit for your defense talk…
- Go to your favorite undergrad conference to recruit new graduate students to CU even though you defend your thesis in a week. You’re stressed out, yes, but the students’ excitement to go to graduate school and learn is inspiring. Plus you have really cool conversations with your fellow recruiters, your sister (who is recruiting for her school), and some of your friends that you haven’t seen in forever (who are recruiting for their schools!)
- Be prepared to reanalyze your data at least 4 times while writing and then again right after you defend.
- Surprise your advisor by finishing everything on time even when she thought that “no one” could do everything in that short amount of time.
- Present your research to your family and friends with only one minor technical glitch that is easily solved. Do not lose your composure over the glitch or over the whole situation because your presentation turned out awesome and you really know your stuff!
- Shake hands with your committee faculty after your defense because you’re a doctor now! Yes, it feels weird and anticlimactic now but just keep smiling and it will slowly feel more and more real! Congratulations! Now it’s time to figure out what’s next…
PS – Is it obvious that you just read Neil Patrick Harris’ Choose Your Own Adventure Autobiography?