So I had planned a series of studies in my original proposal, and it was all very neat and in boxes on a gantt chart. In reality, the first study isn't quite finished, I'm planning the second one as it needs to get going, and I'm also still dealing with stuff from my Maters (getting a paper out)... argh... is this normal? Any suggestions on the best way to manage this kind of multitasking? Or it advisable to multitask on this scale or might it be better to just focus on one of these major activities and get it out of the way?! Any advice appreciated, as always!
It's pretty normal - I've been juggling projects, papers and thesis amendments for the last two years. On the one hand I quite enjoy it as it keeps me busy, on the other it would be nice to finish something before starting something else, but I don't think it works like that in academia! It's like I finish one paper, then the next one comes back and needs revisions, and then I'm writing a new one as well and all of this on top of my day job.
I just pick certain days and times to work on certain things so I'm not flicking too much between topics.
I think you have to keep working small amounts on each topic so that it all keeps moving along slowly.
So it's normal. I just need to get better at it I think. Yep, revisions on the Masters paper - so that is a priority as the journal will be expecting my reply. I will try dedicating whole days (or even a week) to a task and see how I get on. It just feels "bitty" but I'll have to get over it and get good at this!
Yeh, this is completely normal. And, if you're thinking about academia afterwards, then being productive while continuously context-switching is a real must-develop skill.
I mean, I'm not a permanent academic but I am a full time associate lecturer. My day today looked like this - this morning I was working on editing a chapter of my thesis. Then I had to do some teaching prep for my first lecture of next term because I've got a meeting about that module tomorrow and needed to figure some stuff out. Then I had to mark a reassessment that came in today and needed to be marked ASAP. Then I had some time to go back to thesis-ing before I had a meeting about a research proposal for a training course I have to take because the proposal needs to be approved before the end of Sept. Then I had more thesis time. And then I responded to some emails. And now I'm back home trying to get some quality thesis time when I can ignore emails!
And this is during summer vacation when there isn't even any formal teaching going on!
It's fun and definitely not boring but juggling lots of balls and getting used to context switching and managing your own time and commitments is a really useful thing to learn during your PhD. Especially if you're considering an academic career afterwards.
Yes, as others have said, this is completely normal. I've had separate 2-3 studies to juggle for most of my candidature on top of non-research stuff (coursework, admin, publications etc). Gant charts and timelines are helpful and I always have one, but it's important to know that things will almost always blow out beyond your expected timeline, so don't beat yourself up about it. When I look back at the timeline I made in first year I can only laugh! But it all worked okay in the end.
What helps me most is having a whiteboard with my different projects going with a list of things to do so I have a sense of where everything is at. For each month, I try to only focus major tasks from two projects only.
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