All entries for November 2013

November 14, 2013

PhD work–life balance

Hi everyone,

It already seems like ages since I last posted, time seems to be flying by in the run-up to Christmas argh! I think I have set myself some targets of things I want to get done by then, so it feels like a never ending rush to do more in time for a nice holiday!

At the moment, I'm trying to re-process a few samples I worked with previously now that I have done some analysis on the information I have and have found out about them. I am also trying to prepare samples for sequencing after developing my own home-made protocol and at the same time I am trying to get things up and running on testing some modifications to a method I previously used.

All of this is between meetings, seminars, cake and the rest of my life! This leads me on to talking about the PhD work life balance. This is something I am always working on. When I do have a break, I can feel slightly guilty and worry about being behind on things, but I usually get to the point where I think 'I DO need a break!' and can relax a bit more. Recently I have been doing a bit of work in the evenings - usually something not recommended! As I have been busy in the lab all day, the evening is a chance to catch-up on e-mails, update my lab book and diary and plan for the next day. I know all of this sould really be incorporated into my working day, but the time seems to fly be and so while I'm at uni, my focus is on getting the lab work done that I obviously can't do at home and then using some time at home to reflect on results.

This isn't always the case, I usually fit things into the working day when I'm not doing lab work, as I then have the uninterrupted time to get on with other things. Despite this, I do wish sometimes I could switch off more. I have in the last two years tried to avoid PhD work on the weekends and try and catch up with family unless I have a deadline or some lab work that needs finishing off. Even so the weekends seem to fly by and before I know it Monday looms. Working in the evenings also seems to rob you of some leisure time to relax which annoys me, but I still like the feeling of been organised and up to date on everything.

Thinking about it, I work better if I know I have to leave by a certain time. This gives me the motivation to stop flapping about and just get things done.

Overall, I suppose it's a bit of a catch-22 situation. You need rest and relxation, but you want to get things done.

How'd you manage your time effectively? Any tips or advice would be welcome right about now!

November 07, 2013

PhD progress

Hello fellow bloggers,

It's been a while, so I thought I would add an update on what is going on in my little world at the moment.

I have recently been busy attending courses, helping new PhD students find their way around the lab as well as superivsing a work experience student. All this has meant I haven't had much time to stop and reflect! Now that I have managed to run out of reagents, I have some time to catch up on everything else whilst I wait for them to arrive.

Lab work is going well, but frustratingly slowly. I know what I need to do, it's just getting it done that seems to be the problem! Something doesn't go quite right and so I need to repeat it, someone needs a little help so I run out of time, I need a bit of advice so I have to find the right person argh! I guess I am just so focused on the main tasks I need to get done that I want them all to be done faster!

I have also found that trying to push to get things done in the lab means other things outside the lab become neglected. Really, having to wait for reagents as enabled me to try and catch up on what was becoming a ridicously long 'to-do' list! Now that I am slowly catching up on things I wanted to get done, I'm starting to feel more relaxed and organised.

To also try and panic less about time passing by and what I need to do, I have just been focusing on what tasks I need to do and by when and trying to break them down into smaller pieces so that I don't feel overwhelmed. I think often you can feel like there are so many things you need to do and when you actually list what you need to do, you have the time to do it, you've just managed to work these tasks up to be massive things in your head!

Now for a hot chocolate and a deep breath before continuing to work!

November 2013

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