For I Made No Haste…

A few years ago, I read “Walden” by Henry David Thoreau. Part of the memoir, available free here from Project Gutenberg, is Thoreau describing how he built a cabin for himself. This was a place of solitude to work and think.

I was enjoying the turns of phrase and descriptions of life when part of a sentence made me gasp as if a light had come on:

“…for I made no haste in my work, but rather made the most of it…”

For several years I’ve been returning to this phrase. The last year and a half have seen many changes. This phrase, for some reason, keeps me reflecting.

I think of all the times when I have rushed to get things done. All the time when I have tried to cram more things into an already busy week. All the times when I have worked to be finished with a task – so I can then go and do more.

Instead… Why not make the most of my work? Why not prioritise doing my work well rather than seeing it simply done? Why not see it as a chance to grow and develop than an output or outcome to be finished?

Thoreau was writing in a very different era, but there’s wisdom in his words.

So for viva prep, why not make the most of the time to learn a little more? Why not use the opportunity to be sure you’re ready?

For the viva, why not approach it with an attitude of eagerness? Why not think about how to make the most of the opportunity? This is a chance to talk with two people who have read your thesis and are eager to talk with you, not just an exam to pass.

Of course on your PhD journey, like anything else in your life, there are pressures and drivers. There are things you have to get done.

But how can you do the work and make the most of it? And how can you remove the need for haste so you can make the most of it?