A wise man, charming in his persona, who has a greater understanding the capitalistic nature of society than most, whom openly rejects the notion of a ‘deal’, once said to me a very excellent statement:
“Life is too short for shit coffee”
At the time I thought of it as mere coffee snobbery; using an ideal limited to taste in an attempt to create an external persona of sophistication, style, and substance through coffee. But when you get to sit down and think, maybe it means more. Maybe Life is too short for shit coffee, but also, maybe life is too short for a great number of shit things. Maybe life is too short for shit dedication to thought.
The excellent thing about a PhD is it allows you time to start actually thinking, you start to realise a new importance on the ideal of sitting down to actually think down tangents. So what if I am reading about the differences in UK/US work-hour efficacy, it’s giving me a new perspective on something that may spark a new idea down the road.
Humans actively avoid the larger topics on life, ethics, ideals, and the importance of social media use by politicians on representation, perhaps. Why? Because we are told time equals money, therefore to gain the most value from our time, we must do more with it. We must produce more papers, more reports, and more products. The quicker we can come up with a decision, the more time is saved. It seems with this mentality, value is lost. Policies are poorly performed. The DWP decide to launch the ‘physical embodiment of the workplace pension’ as a fake-CGI colourful BearManPig. Research misses its real value. The time allowed to you when you’re on a PhD helps you realise maybe we are spending our time on more: but not better.
As I write this, in a suburban coffee house in the somewhat popular area of Didsbury, Manchester, a new perspective can be found. My coffee did not come fast, but it tastes excellent. I could be sat at in my home office avoiding ‘wasted travel time’, but the locational visual differences develop new tangents of thought. I could spend my time inside reading, but I’m outside talking. Thoughts are dependent on external stimuli, but not always the stimuli you expect. Ideas don’t magic themselves up they take time to develop. You don’t cook a stew in minutes; you cook it slowly over hours.
It is a shame that a key performance indicator (K.P.I) for business cannot be time sat thinking about an idea – because measuring subjectivity is a fruitless challenge. You can’t say my dog has increased 5% in dog-ness. Nor can you say this idea is 20% more thought about than another. This is where social scientists with copies of SPSS murder me.
So what does all this have to do with my research? I ran into this PhD with expectations that by Christmas, I would have all these wonderful theories in my head to test and develop – I’d be at the forefront of my research field, and I’d have done so much reading that I could write a distinction dissertation off the top of my head. After all, I came into this PhD far too cocky – I’d completed a Master’s dissertation that achieved a mark of 86 (well into distinction territory) after three weeks of work, when others had spent more time and achieved a lessor grade. I achieved similar results for my undergrad dissertation. Coffee has taught me that rushed work might be ok, but it will never be better in the subjective sense. As a result, its time I start thinking its ok to spend this period of my life to develop better ideas, and not develop as many as possible. After all life is too short for shit thoughts, and Life is certainty too short for shit coffee.