I was wondering if I could ask for some advice regarding how people manage their first year and time...
I started in October 2010 in a psychology / intercultural relations field. Since January, I started RAing and doing research for my supervisor (which has truly taken my head space away from my PhD totally, even though I commit 25 hours a week). And i'm starting to panic, but at the same time the panic causes me to shut down rather than work harder if that makes sense. I'm hoping to finish up my project by the end of March or latest by April and just dedicate my time to the PhD, but still I'm having issues managing my head space and time.
Some people talk about working a 9-5pm schedule to have a 'healthy' balance, but I can't seem to go for more than 2 or 3 hours straight. It takes up so much brain power reading (mostly, that's where I'm at) and writing that I get so distracted if I work more than 2 hours. So I end up taking an hour break and starting again - so by the end of the day, my 9 - 5pm really ends up working out to be 4 or 5 hours of real work - which is no where near a 7 or 8 hour work day, and I'm just feeling guilty all the time!
Can someone please advice me or tell me what i'm doing wrong or how I can better manage this? I used to work in Communications, and though it was a 9 - 5pm job, at least I had the distractions of meetings and juggling multiple projects all at the one time.
Am i on the right track just reading mostly in my first 6 - 8 months?? It's just back and forth with reading and writing... and I just haven't seem to gotten a grasp on how to manage it. Please help!!! I think I'm finding myself falling into the evil pit of PhD depression.
Thanks for reading...
Hi, it sounds like you are getting quite a lot done - more than you think probably. I find it almost impossible to read and write non stop - I think most people do. So I find I will read for half an hour - then do something else for a while, then return to the reading. Maybe divide your time up into manageable chunks - eg read for 40 minutes then do filing for 30 minutes, then do a little internet research (without getting too distracted), then back to reading. Whatever suits your personality. But you sound as if you are doing OK. Good luck.
I have an RA job too so I know how you feel - my supervisor is the same for both and she pushes the RA work a lot more and assumes I'll be staying up til 2am doing the PhD after 'work hours'. I also have a husband who doesn't think I should work after 5pm so this makes things difficult!
All I can say is use every single minute you have free - I'm working days of 6.30am - 10.30pm at the mo, but its a mix of RA and PhD work. I find that 'mytomatoes' helps you focus - which is a time management tool. It also helps to have clear lists for your RA work and clear lists for your PhD.
I think its tempting to think 'I'll put my PhD off until my RA work is finished in April" but I think you need to come up with a list of things for your PhD that must be done before then - so you don't just abandon it.
I find doing menial PhD tasks e.g. sorting out endnote, creating the tables I want etc. are good uses of the time when your brain hurts!
I also think you sound as if you're doing okay. I agree with Sneaks that I wouldn't completely park the PhD 'til after your RA work finishes in April. What if it doesn't? I would try to do something, however small, most days so that come April you won't feel that you are behind and have masses to catch up on.
Reading 9-5 each day for me would be an impossibility. However those times when you are sourcing articles, downloading, sifting and sorting are all part of the process. I think people who refer to it as a 9-5 job mean that they look at it as a job and come 5 o'clock, they switch off. They don't tend to work weekends, bank holidays unless a deadline is looming. For lots of us that's not possible. Your background in Communications where you say you are well used to juggling between multiple projects is in fact a description of the typical PhD! It is a juggling act between PhD work, information sourcing, other work commitments and real-life.
I only recently started using the tomato technique as well. Work for 25 minutes, then take a break for 5. There is no reason why I couldn't organise my time myself into blocks of 25 minutes but there is something about seeing that red tomato that makes me focus. Have a look, it might help you see how much you actually are doing - http://mytomatoes.com/
I don't think you are in danger of falling into that evil pit - you sound like you're doing grand (up)
Thank you so much guys, your encouragement so far means a lot.
It's been hard because my partner (who is planning to do his PhD but hasn't gotten in yet) encourages me all the time and gives me advice, but I can't trust him on them because... well, he's not doing it yet and hasn't done it so I don't feel he understands and might be giving me the wrong advice.
I will take your advice and not completely stop on the PhD - It just seems so much easier to focus on one thing and one thing only - I guess this is where the juggling act comes in hey! It just sucks that I feel like I'm not cut out for this and that I'm no good at it.. etc etc...
I did try the tomato technique once, but never stuck to it... I felt like I was having more 'time off' than I should be and ended up abandoning it - mind you, now I'm in such a bad way that I'm wasting even more time compared to the 5 - 10 minute breaks that the tomato technique allowed.
I'm going to look into making up a list now and getting onto the tomato again... (=
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