Tag Archives: working from home

The ‘no’, the guilt and the change

20 Mar

Last week I attended a coaching workshop for PhD students. Aside from the moments where I felt sick, tears welling, lump in throat sticking, it was a great day – full of realisations and reflections that will hopefully make life in PhD land a bit easier over the next couple of years (please, I want to do this in 3. Not 4. 3. Three… yes, three).

One of the exercises encouraged us to think about barriers and ladders, thinking about the risks we need to take to take control towards our own progress . Amongst others, I realised one of my barriers is my distinct, definite, debilitating inability to say NO. No to the conversation started by my desk, No to a quick coffee (ok, tea) break, No to the long overdue ‘catch up’, No to “can you help with this…?”. But underlying all the times I’ve refused to say No or ‘not now’ is my definite success at saying ‘YES, COME ON IN, LET’S PARTY’ to something so much more powerful: guilt. Feeling guilty that I’ll come across as rude when I don’t take my earphones all the way out and stand up, feeling guilty for always seeming reluctant, feeling guilty that I feel like I’m always cutting things short.

So rather than putting myself in a position where I end up feeling guilty about saying no or taking control, what have I done? Removed myself from the whole situation and am now working at home, tucked into a much more comfortable work-chair, with daylight, blanket on lap, one cat by my feet and the other on a bean bag winking from her snooze. It feels good. I’ve had the most productive three days of my year. Yes, it’s a bit more lonely and I’ll have to be careful that I don’t become disconnected from everything that goes on in uni life… plus, I can see why so many 3rd year PhD-ers prefer to work from home but seem a little bonkers! But for a week where a deadline is looming then working from home seems to have done the trick, even if this is one giant avoidance tactic of the fear of saying ‘no’!

The Big P…

20 Feb

I’m sure every PhD student goes through it… in fact, maybe someone should do some research to see if there is a connection between the P word and the C word. I think I could safely hypothesise that when Confidence takes a dip, Procrastination soars.

In the last three days I have caught up with many an important task: completed emails and urgent Amnesty International actions; trawled Manchester trying to find an NHS dentist; ensured fridge, cupboards are stocked; ensured freezer has stock of meals we can just defrost and munch (for when the brain gets into gear again and I end up staying at the office until the late hours…); cycled the long way to and from the office; made sure washing is up-to-date (including the dodgy crusty tea-towels from the office that I brought home to clean); changed lightbulbs, sheets, towels; called my dad for a chat to discuss his birthday; started writing my blog… I can only be a bit proud that I stopped short of making a new ‘studying’ playlist, though I do think I might have to at least edit the current one!

The morning was generally ok, started well at least; I read a couple of interesting chapters and made some useful notes and convinced myself there was a bit of progress towards pinning down a couple of concepts I’m looking at putting into my framework. But it seems like there’s a motivational blockage that really needs a bit of feedback from either supervisor to find the drive again. I’ve not discussed my work with either of them since the middle of December and can’t muster the energy to carry on going with no sense of whether the path I’m on is in any way pointing in the right direction. But I have got ingredients for a yummy dinner, am off to swim training soon, and have an assortment of healthy packed lunches ready and waiting.

Procrastination: another one of the things to be calmly aware of so it doesn’t get a grip on the PhD process? Hmmm…. Now, bathroom could do with a mop….