What Goes Up…..Must Come Down

So Ive been having a stressful few weeks/months with my work at the moment, this partly explains my lack of blogging, although this has been aided by a number of things; car crash, family visitations, sunshine… which have all utilized most of my free time.

These experiments Ive had planned were carefully laid out to the T. However i find no matter how much time and effort you put in to planning something, it never quite goes the way you expect. Basically the high temperature bleaching experiments i conducted took a lot longer than the 10 days i originally planned for, in fact it took more than double that and still dint work quite the way i wanted. I’m not sure whether its a good or a bad thing, on one hand the corals were more hardy than i anticipated, which is a good thing, on the other it threw my whole timetable out of the window, caused me to work 30 days straight with no days off and pushed me to the end of my tether.

Sometimes i wish i could have an assistant or take on volunteers. Recently my good friend who is studying psychology, volunteered to help conduct experiments for one of her lectures, she put in many hours of time and in return has the experience on her CV and a head start on her own dissertation. It makes me wish i could call upon an undergrad to help me with my own experiments. But then i think would i be able to trust them, would they take the care and patience that i commit to my own work, well no because its not their work, its not their PhD and publications that depend on the data, so then i think again. If only i could duplicate myself, would make things so much easier. On the other hand i could just try not to squeeze so much in to so little time, but then things wouldn’t get done. When i started my PhD i thought jeeez 3 years is such a long time, now I’m like ahhhh time is running out, no way is 3 years enough time! its funny how your perspectives change, however I’m not sure i would like to dedicate more than 3 years of my life to a PhD, i mean i do have a life to live also and until its finished its very hard to do both at the same time!

A PhD is not just doing your own research, it comes with a lot of extras, professional development, departmental commitments, student supervision, field organization, networking, as well as keeping up to date with latest publications and scientific practices. for example not only do i have to finish these experiments, then do another lot, I’ve also just handed in a 5000 word literature review, need to write a 3000 word annual report, write a project plan for my summer field work, plan 6 undergraduates dissertations, plus then need to organize all the equipment, chemicals, rotas and paperwork for these undergrads as well as my own work, a lot to sort in very little time.

Last year i attended this time management course in the hope that it would help me manage my time more effectively, in principle i understand exactly how to do this, but in practice its a bit more difficult. I remember them telling us that we need to remember that there are only 168 hours in a week; 56 of these are spent sleeping, at least 14 eating, probably 3 showering, 5 exercising, 3 traveling, after that there are only 87 left, i think I’m entitled to at least 2 a day relaxing, socializing or reading, so that leaves 73 to work on my PhD, which really inst a lot. Bu this perspective is wrong 50-60 hours should be more than enough leaving me an extra 16-26 hours do do other things, but this is not exactly the way I’m working right now. This is why i think the way I’m currently working is not sustainable, i don’t think its physically possible to work like this for 3 years, but then where do you fit it all in? I feel i could literally cut out the PhD completely and just focus on all the extras such as the reports and supervising and that would fill my whole working day. How do people do it??

I do feel lucky to have the opportunities i get with my PhD especially the traveling, but even this can have its down sides, i had to tell my sister last week that i will miss my nephews 1st 2nd and 3rd birthdays due to field work which is really sad, not that i don’t doubt working in Indonesia will be amazing but you do miss out on life. However you cant have everything, but you must make use of the time you do have. I had the unfortunately of recently being in a car accident, nothing major but it came from nowhere and reminded me that you can control your life in every possible way, but you cant control others and nature and so the unexpected can always happen. I could work extremely hard over the next 3 years, have no life and miss out on everything around me with my family and friends, or i could make sure that although i will work hard that i don’t let it take over my life and still make time for all those other things in life that you don’t want to regret missing out on.

So im gonna try to not let my work take over my life, and i suggest you all do the same, you dont want to regret missing out. Its fine to work hard an sometimes long hours, but its not something that can be sustained without impacting negatively in other areas of your life. also i reckon it impacts positively on your work life, when you have limited hours you are more productive, and when you have time for fun you feel more relaxed and less stressed so its win win really. There is even a wikipedia page on the issue so you know its true!

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