February 12th, 2008

How long does it take to write a dissertation?

This is the entry in which i confess to one of my compulsive behaviours. My sleep cycle is not the most regular thing in the world (but then again, i hear this is not so unusual for hacker types). Once upon a time i got interested in my sleep patterns,1 and decided to start recording them. So i hacked up a little utility to help me keep a log of when i sleep and wake up, with fairly minimal effort.

When i started writing my dissertation, it occurred to me that it would be nice to know how much time i spent on the thing when i was finally done with it. So i made a habit of recording when i worked on that too. Now i have hundreds of little timestamped log entries.

What does one do with all this data? Visualize it, of course...

Time spent on the dissertation (orange): 327.9 hours
Time spent on the talk (purple): 41.4 hours
Total: 369.3 hours

(Made with Python and ReportLab, then marked up with OmniGraffle.)

Note 1. I also tried living on a 28-hour day (with a 6-day week) for a few weeks one summer. It was interesting. But that is a story for another time.