Back to work

I haven’t written anything on this blog for a few months. I would like to say that’s because I’ve been intensely busy with all kinds of work and life related things, which is kind of true. But mostly I haven’t had the motivation to write because I try to focus on my PhD work and that has been very frustrating recently.

In my last post I wrote about the relief of passing my “upgrade” panel, so I am now a fully registered PhD student (instead of officially an MPhil student). That was back in November last year. Immediately after that I finished off and sent out a draft paper to collaborators, just in time to get some feedback before Christmas.

Stupid idea.

No matter how much work I put into that first draft, there were always going to be extra things to do after comments from collaborators.

I knew this.

I didn’t know how hard it would be not to take them personally.

In the end (and with hindsight) all the comments I received were constructive, helpful and pretty much friendly. But this is the first research project I have really worked on, and so I do feel emotional about the response it gets, especially from people who have helped me along the way.

On my second last day in the office before Christmas I received the most critical set of comments and, suffice to say, I had to be reminded not to let them ruin the holiday season.

Then came January. I was dreading going back to work; I felt like everything I’ve been working on for the last 12-15 months had been pointless. Basically, I was being overdramatic (and I’m sure I will be again!).

After a few days of procrastination and a few weeks of work I feel much better. This culminated in a Skype call to some collaborators earlier this week, where I presented the work I’d done since Christmas. I was not expecting to do this, so when I found out about it I was worried about how it would go. In the end it went very well; I received good comments, suggestions and general feedback and I now feel much more positive about my project again. (Hence why I want to write a blog post!).

In the last three months or so I have (with some help) learnt a few lessons that I hope will stay with me:

  • I much prefer getting feedback through discussions (rather than emails). This will not always be possible so when I get emailed feedback I should keep in mind that I respond differently to this style and try to adjust my reaction appropriately.
  • When I believe my work is going terribly and that the next task will only prove that everything I’ve already done is wrong, I’m (very likely to be) being overdramatic. I should take a deep breath, stop panicking and get on with the next task. Worrying about possible results before they’re investigated does not help anything.
  • Holiday time is holiday time. Stress about work has no place in that time, it only makes the rest of life more stressful too.
  • I must continue writing to-do lists, however much I’m dreading the tasks on the list.

Now to get back to work 🙂

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3 thoughts on “Back to work

  1. I agree with the four lessons, which I also had to learn the hard way during my PhD!

  2. Steve says:

    I think those lessons apply to life in general… and I’m still learning them! They’re particularly pertinent when it comes to something I’ve poured my heart into creatively…

  3. […] know there are many differences between this set of feedback and the set I got just before Christmas, some within my control and some outside it. For example, my work is better after the first […]

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