Moving all deadlines to a future date...

posted
04-Apr-18, 21:47
edited about 46 seconds later
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 3 weeks ago
Hi experienced PhDers...
I've got myself in a bit of a mess mentally... I am so sick of my work - I just can't face it. In 3 and a half weeks I go away for 6 weeks on a study visit (funded). It is a great privilege and I'm looking forward to it. I want to spend the next 3 and a half weeks preparing for it, instead of writing up my thesis, which I am getting NO WHERE on. It will mean having to move a whole series of deadlines to when I get back in mid June. I am in my final year but I believe I am entitled to a write up year (self funded). Is it up to me if I choose to move my deadlines like this? I know my supervisor won't be pleased but I really feel I have no option. I just feel SO demotivated about my thesis right now, and just hope that my trip will breathe new life into me (if I am prepared for it - that is having read up properly on what I'll be doing etc in advance of going).
Any advice? Is it ludicrous to tell my supervisor that I want to do this (i.e., move deadlines till after trip and just forget about my thesis for a while)?
Thanks
Tudor
posted
05-Apr-18, 03:14
by pm133
Avatar for pm133
posted about 3 weeks ago
Quote From Tudor_Queen:
Hi experienced PhDers...
I've got myself in a bit of a mess mentally... I am so sick of my work - I just can't face it. In 3 and a half weeks I go away for 6 weeks on a study visit (funded). It is a great privilege and I'm looking forward to it. I want to spend the next 3 and a half weeks preparing for it, instead of writing up my thesis, which I am getting NO WHERE on. It will mean having to move a whole series of deadlines to when I get back in mid June. I am in my final year but I believe I am entitled to a write up year (self funded). Is it up to me if I choose to move my deadlines like this? I know my supervisor won't be pleased but I really feel I have no option. I just feel SO demotivated about my thesis right now, and just hope that my trip will breathe new life into me (if I am prepared for it - that is having read up properly on what I'll be doing etc in advance of going).
Any advice? Is it ludicrous to tell my supervisor that I want to do this (i.e., move deadlines till after trip and just forget about my thesis for a while)?
Thanks
Tudor


I am probably not the best person to answer this because I had no deadlines and would not have tolerated any being placed on me. Personally, I think you have earned the right to decide your own timings on things and your supervisor should accept that.
posted
05-Apr-18, 08:56
edited about 44 minutes later
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 3 weeks ago
That's exactly what I wanted to hear and at just the right time - thanks pm133. :-)

I still don't look forward to telling her on Monday though... :-D

Ps. The deadlines are for my benefit / so that things will work well - they mean that if I submit a draft on X date, supervisor A will read it on X date, supervisor B will read it on X date, and I will have it back on X date. And it should all work out in time for me to submit my thesis on X date. I am not opposed to this - it is helpful (especially as I hear so many people waiting weeks and weeks to get feedback etc). But I am no longer in a position to meet them as planned.
posted
05-Apr-18, 20:34
edited about 48 seconds later
by pm133
Avatar for pm133
posted about 2 weeks ago
Nothing wrong with having your own deadlines for your own benefit but you definitely do not want to be telling your supervisors about them. If they specifically ask for them I would be very cagey about it, couch my words in very vague terms and probably double the times I had estimated myself and I would make it clear that those were soft targets rather than deadlines, very likely to change. In fairness though it really is none of their business because it's your PhD.

Good luck for Monday. Let us know how you get on.
posted
06-Apr-18, 00:19
edited about 18 seconds later
Avatar for bewildered
posted about 2 weeks ago
PM133 I think Tudor means that if the supervisors know when to expect work, then they can plan their diaries to block out time and Tudor gets feedback in an agreed turnaround time. Which will not be the case if Tudor were to give no notice whatsoever and sends the chapter on the same day that 200 final year exam scripts arrive, and need turning around by inflexible deadlines. It makes everyone's lives easier...

Tudor - sounds like you need the break, but from bitter experience don't just drop everything however tempting. Try to get to a sensible place to stop and write down what you thought the remaining tasks to do for the chapter(s) were. I once did exactly what you want to do and on returning from in my case overseas fieldwork, the chapter that had been a week off finishing no longer made sense. I had to start rereading sources etc and lost a lot of unnecessary time. A little bit of extra pain in leaving things in good shape with a plan would have been so much better. Enjoy the visit.
posted
06-Apr-18, 04:03
edited about 27 seconds later
by pm133
Avatar for pm133
posted about 2 weeks ago
So long as it is Tudor who is setting and controlling those deadlines then that is fine.
The problem would be if the deadlines were being set by the supervisors.
posted
06-Apr-18, 09:34
edited about 2 seconds later
by Pjlu 4 star member
Avatar for Pjlu
posted about 2 weeks ago
Hi Tudor, I think it is important to have breaks and not to feel too guilty about them. Sometimes you just do need some time out and a sense of perspective. The trip sounds fantastic-lucky you and well deserved for all of your hard work in achieving this.

I think Bewildered's advice about not completely losing touch with whatever part of the write up, or the chapter you are currently doing, is really helpful as well. Once you factor in your trip of 6 weeks and add this to your break of 3 and a half weeks prior to going, that can be quite a long time overall. Keeping in touch with the chapter in some way will mean that when you do get back you can get back into things quite quickly.

The other thing is perhaps that you seem to already have factored in that you will take an extra year in write up and will self fund, and while it is nice to know you have this up your sleeve if needed, you may not actually need it. You may not need to set your deadlines back as much as this-perhaps just wait and see how your conversation pans out with your supervisor and where you are once you have come back from your study trip.
posted
06-Apr-18, 12:10
Avatar for Jamie_Wizard
posted about 2 weeks ago
Quote From pm133:
So long as it is Tudor who is setting and controlling those deadlines then that is fine.
The problem would be if the deadlines were being set by the supervisors.


That's ludicrous. Deadlines are a part of life! Sure, it's her own PhD and should be able to negotiate deadlines and milestones, but to say that they can't be suggested or imposed from the outside is unpractical and just not how life works! What if one were to have that attitude towards the 4 year hard deadline for full-time students that the universities stipulate? how far would that get them? (rhetorical). What about deadlines for funding applications?
posted
06-Apr-18, 12:16
edited about 1 minute later
Avatar for Jamie_Wizard
posted about 2 weeks ago
Hi Tudor,

In my opinion, I think you have nothing to worry about. It's natural to get feel a bit sick
of it at times, taking a step back could definitely be helpful as long as it doesn't turn
into full-blown procrastination.

Deadlines, unfortunately are a part of life. Ideally, there should more flexible deadlines
when studying for a doctorate due to the amount of work and complexity of the process.
Most UK universities have 4 year hard deadline for F/T students. As Pjlu points out, keeping
a deadline in mind helps to reduce sudden pressures on both sides. So it's best to
mentally reframe it - substituting the idea of deadlines for milestones in the PhD
might be a better way to create a framework for what you want to achieve.

Perhaps you can use the time before you go away to create a general writing-up plan to serve
as a guide, nothing too strict, but say, for example, an outline and a set of milestones such
as the idea of completing the equivalent of 1 chapter per month when you return.

It's absolutely fine to take a step back from the writing and then get back into it with
a fresh sense of perspective and more of a focus :-)

As for finishing within three years, I think that's not really necessary unless one is
constrained by limited funding. I would advocate spending the 3 years to maximise the
depth of the research, and expedite this only if possible without reducing the quality.

In my case, my advisor during my upgrade advised me of the possibility to get my doctorate
by publication, but I did want to go through the traditional write-up process for the
experience of it! In retrospect... we in all fairness one can see a development in writing
style from writing up, so in that respect, despite the challenges, it has been beneficial.

Good luck and enjoy your trip! :-)
posted
06-Apr-18, 20:09
edited about 3 minutes later
by pm133
Avatar for pm133
posted about 2 weeks ago
Quote From Jamie_Wizard:
Quote From pm133:
So long as it is Tudor who is setting and controlling those deadlines then that is fine.
The problem would be if the deadlines were being set by the supervisors.


That's ludicrous. Deadlines are a part of life! Sure, it's her own PhD and should be able to negotiate deadlines and milestones, but to say that they can't be suggested or imposed from the outside is unpractical and just not how life works! What if one were to have that attitude towards the 4 year hard deadline for full-time students that the universities stipulate? how far would that get them? (rhetorical). What about deadlines for funding applications?


In TudorQueen's case we are neither talking about hard 4 year deadlines nor deadlines for funding applications.
We were talking about general deadlines during a PhD.
Context is everything.
posted
07-Apr-18, 09:33
edited about 9 seconds later
Avatar for Jamie_Wizard
posted about 2 weeks ago
Quote From pm133:
Quote From Jamie_Wizard:
Quote From pm133:
So long as it is Tudor who is setting and controlling those deadlines then that is fine.
The problem would be if the deadlines were being set by the supervisors.


That's ludicrous. Deadlines are a part of life! Sure, it's her own PhD and should be able to negotiate deadlines and milestones, but to say that they can't be suggested or imposed from the outside is unpractical and just not how life works! What if one were to have that attitude towards the 4 year hard deadline for full-time students that the universities stipulate? how far would that get them? (rhetorical). What about deadlines for funding applications?


In TudorQueen's case we are neither talking about hard 4 year deadlines nor deadlines for funding applications.
We were talking about general deadlines during a PhD.
Context is everything.


In TudorQueen's case, being in the final year is the context that is "everything"!. especially when a hard deadline exists. This is why I was reframing deadlines as milestones so as to have a healthier means of acheiving them, or moving them a little. In anycase all you were adding to the conversation was saying "oh, I don't do deadlines", lol.
posted
10-Apr-18, 15:28
edited about 11 seconds later
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 2 weeks ago
THANK YOU everyone. I considered all of your advice. I had a week or so of not doing any work and just thinking I couldn't and would pick it up again after my trip (regardless). But then (after the break) I began to see things more reasonably again. I met with my supervisor yesterday and we agreed to move just one deadline till after my trip (and it wasn't framed at all negatively - I just explained about certain problems I'd encountered and how I'd decided to take more time on it - and she thought it was a good idea too).

So this means I am working on things again now, and will be working a bit during my trip too (on my thesis). I think I can handle it as long as I don't get myself in such a state again. Frequent breaks and a not too demanding plan for me over the next month or so. Your comments were all so helpful. : )

Tudor
posted
10-Apr-18, 16:57
Avatar for Jamie_Wizard
posted about 2 weeks ago
Glad you have sorted your situation. I'm sure you'll be fine :-)
posted
10-Apr-18, 17:50
edited about 17 seconds later
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 2 weeks ago
Thanks, and I read on your thread that you're now on the final grammar check! Congrats and all the best : )
posted
11-Apr-18, 03:23
edited about 11 minutes later
by pm133
Avatar for pm133
posted about 2 weeks ago
Quote From Jamie_Wizard:

In TudorQueen's case we are neither talking about hard 4 year deadlines nor deadlines for funding applications.
We were talking about general deadlines during a PhD.
Context is everything.


In TudorQueen's case, being in the final year is the context that is "everything"!. especially when a hard deadline exists. This is why I was reframing deadlines as milestones so as to have a healthier means of acheiving them, or moving them a little. In anycase all you were adding to the conversation was saying "oh, I don't do deadlines", lol.


Let's leave aside the condescending "lol" and the "real world" nonsense. There really is no place for it in a discussion amongst grown adults, especially when we are both trying to help someone else.

Ever since I entered the workplace in 1990 I have never had a deadline imposed on me by anyone and my colleagues through the years generally haven't either.
Our bosses always asked us to set our own deadlines. The job of the boss is then to facilitate whatever we need to allow those deadlines to be met. We are the technical experts. Who else is better placed to know how long something will take us if not ourselves? That was the philosophy of every company I ever worked for from the most junior member of staff to the most senior. I have worked in some of the biggest companies in the world, some of the smallest and a range in between, both as an employee and a freelance expert and the same picture has been present in all of them.

The sole exceptions were those who could not be trusted to either meet their own deadlines or complete their work to a satisfactory standard. The rule of thumb was that having your deadlines set for you was a clear signal that you were underperforming and untrustworthy. Those were the people who were at great risk of redundancy.

If you are still having your deadlines set for you as a postdoc then you really should be concerned. At the very least you should be questioning why you are not trusted to set your own.

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