Friday, 20 January 2012

Going Backwards In Order To Go Forwards....

Today I helped facilitate a workshop on how to manage your PhD, something I've attended at least twice if not three times in different roles. This time i was facilitating but as a result of my work with the Institute of Academic Development.

It was a bit like taking a huge leap back in time and thinking about the expectations and the goals I set myself when I first started my PhD. According to the "hours formuala" there are 168 hours in the week, we spend 100 of them doing things like sleeping, eating, walking the dog and all the day to day tasks we do to be able to live. The other 68 hours gets split into two - 34 hours for work and 34 hours for play. Now when you calculate the hours it basically comes down to Mon-Fri 9-5 working with an hour for lunch and time for a break - so a bit like a normal working day.

But then you add in barriers, working, tutoring, facebook, email, blogs, meetings, office hours etc and these all eat into your time. So how much time do we actually spend working on our PhDs - well the conclusion is a lot less than we probably should.  Then it got onto managing your supervisor - in all honesty I put the handbook in the bin about 20 seconds after I was given it. I came to the conclusion that the best way to manage my supervisor was actually to get to know them, be able to say no (which admittedly I struggle with) and not be scared to ask for help.  

Everything discussed, I was familiar with - but then I realised that I actually don't really follow my own top tip to keep my bibliographic software updated, I'm not very good at giving myself a break and I'm terrible at turning off my emails and ignoring them. - So actually going back to the beginning in a way, has made me reassess where I am in the middle of my PhD and the expectations I have of myself and of other people.

So I'm writing a list of all the non-urgent tasks that I have to do before the end of February and I am going to work through them, starting with updating Mendeley....

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Saturday Afternoon and I'm in the office!

It may not seem like a big deal to be working on a Saturday,  lots of people work on a Saturday - in fact I used to work every weekend in a clothing store we all know well! My  days of shifting boxes, organising stock rooms and serving customers may be behind me but working on a Saturday is clearly not!

Considering my future weeks basically consist of working (actual job) 2 days a week, tutoring (other actual job)  1 1/2 days a week and PhD (the reason for the 2 jobs) the other 3 1/2 days a week, I suspect I'll be spending a but more time in the office. I've discovered today that actually working on a Saturday can be quite productive. As it was once said "this place would be OK if there were no students". The cold building, creaky lift and the dodgy energy saving random-dancing inducing lights aside it makes for a good time to get things done.

So I don't spend, nor do I intend to spend all weekend every weekend in the office working. I may however be making a more frequent appearance over the next few weeks. At the moment my aim is purely to get this chapter off my desk! So much for the Christmas Deadline!

Getting my desk reasonably clear for Monday will also be helpful! I start my new job on Tuesday and tutoring gets into full swing the week after. (I'm not even thinking about the essays I'll have to mark! - at least a couple of weekends worth). For the moment though it's back to writing for me....

Sunday, 8 January 2012

It's 2012...

OK, so it being 2012 isn't exactly a surprise to anyone or at least I hope it's not!

Talking to a friend who made it her New Year's resolution to start a blog made me think about how sporadic my posts are when I'm not in the field! It also made me think about all the things I've got up to since the beginning of the year. I'm not sure I can remember January 2011 but I do know I wasn't far into my PhD.

Jan - April  - I was probably writing and readying a lot, oh and tutoring, I remember tutoring. I was preparing for my transition board paper, forgoing to Sweden to the ECAS conference and going on fieldwork.

June - August  - I went to Sweden in June and had a very quick turnaround before flying out to Malawi, now that journey I will never forget - delayed at Edinburgh, broken plane windscreens whilst in air, running through Heathrow like a mad woman, just making the flight to Jo'burg, getting lost in Jo'Burg airport, being so excited on the flight into Malawi and a bumpy landing at Chileka.

I was in Malawi till the end of August - I ended up coming back earlier than planned. A combination of demonstrations and it taking so long to set up school visits that it made sense to return and go back at a later date. I did really enjoy my time there; exploring Blantyre was certainly interesting and visiting some of the schools made me feel really lucky!

Sept - Dec.So starting back to Uni in Sept and to tutoring, is not the most exciting thing. In fact it sounds pretty mundane! Starting 2nd year of PhD just sounds scary *hides behind chair*!  I also joined Edinburgh Girl Guides as an Assistant Unit Leader - that may not sound much fun to some of you, but I was a Brownie and a Guide and I missed being involved with the organisation. Choir Rehearsals must have started around Sept - although I have no idea when!

The year ended with Christmas with the family, some of whom I only see on an annual basis. It was nice to catch up with family and friends at home, who I don't see very much these days. New Year was spent with my flatmate et al, dancing 2011 away and celebrating 2012. New Year's Day and the start of 2012 was spent with friends from CSU on a walk to Dean Village and lunch in a restaurant in New Town.

So what next for 2012! Lots more reading and writing for the PhD, more tutoring and marking, starting a new job with the Institute of Academic Development, Guiding Leadership Qualifications to complete, numerous choir rehearsals to attend, re-learning to play the clarinet and a fieldwork trip to Malawi to plan!!