Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A new blog

A new academic year comes with some kind of new year's resolutions. For me, one of those was to start a blog, in which I am supposed to keep track of how well I'm doing with my other resolutions.
I have finished the first year of my PhD, and luckily I have done a fair amount of testing. However, there are always better ways to do things, and most of the time you discover this while doing. And so, after a year of working on this seemingly never-ending PhD task of mine, I have come to a few conclusions.

1. It's not like homework
Initially I wanted to show my supervisors every single calculation I had made, and show and tell them every single piece of work I had done. It took me a while to realize that it is my and only my responsibility to make this project a success, and that it also mainly depends on my judgment.

2. It's my playground
This conclusion follows from the previous one. So it's not homework, but then what is it? It's my playground. Where else in the world or when during your life would you ever get the chance to play around with something you like for an entire period of four years' time. Think of the idea. It's awesome, and not as scary as you would think.

3. It's so easy to drift off
There are several pitfalls that can result in drifting off too far. You can loose your point of focus by wanting to do too much and looking at too many things at the same time. Somehow, there is a point where you have to decide what you will work on, and stick to it. There's a lot of interesting material out there, but not all of that is what you need. And then another problem of course is not keeping concentrated on the work you are actually doing: going online and reading the news, talking to colleagues around you and more creative ways of procrastination.

My main resolutions for the new academic year are the following:

1. Stay focused
... in both ways I previously discussed. Some time management software is keeping track of my productivity to cover the procrastination problem. And when it comes to sticking to the main point of focus, it's all up to me. I find it very hard not to read another paper that touches the boundary of what I work on. It's interesting, and good background knowledge, but it won't make me move forward.

2. Find a work-life balance
I've taken a subscription to a gym, and I'm so ready to put a little bit more effort into staying healthy and fit. I know that it will benefit my research too, but somehow I find it very hard to allocate hours for it, or to stop what I'm working on to go to the gym and work out. Also, I have decided that once a month I will go and do something fun during the weekend. It doesn't have to take an entire day, but just something to mark the weekend and enjoy.

Two resolutions might not seem that much, and easy to handle, but these two will have quite an impact and will require some effort as well.

It's a new academic year and I'm full with good ideas and intentions!

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