Calm before the storm
It’s going to be a busy week and while I feel like I need to say that every week, this week in particular is going to be challenging. There are several experiments scheduled that I’ll be in charge of, or at least have a big role in, on top of papers (multiple), and other work. So instead of getting a head start, I’ve been trying to take a break. Because if you’re going to have to push yourself, there’s no point in starting the race exhausted.
Admittedly every week feels like hell week. A PhD is a marathon, not a sprint. Now that I’m doing research full time on top of getting my PhD, it feels overwhelming. I often wondered how people could work full time and still do a PhD or any form of education. Undergrad felt particularly brutal, but that could’ve been the circumstances in which I did it in. Yet, here I am now working full time and trying to get my PhD done. I’m on the part where I just need to get a lot of data very quickly, but since I like making my life as difficult as possible, well there’s other stuff going on too.
Yeah, so because I like making things hard, I have my own little side project at work “big idea,” which is a combination of everything I want to do and everything that is being done in hospital-PI’s lab. It’s a collaboration with myself and hospital-PI essentially because neither of us could do this on our own. However, it also means involving a whole lot of other people, who have their own ideas for how we can use “big idea” meaning now I have several different experiments that I’m going to be in charge of.
Okay, technically I’m not “in charge” of them, it’s just my job to make sure they get done correctly and to the specifications we set. Because I’m probably the only one who can do this, it puts me in an awkward spot. On one hand, yay! it’s great that I have all these cool projects. On the other hand, it’s a little much now that I’m trying to cram everything I need to do for my PhD into a single year. And of course, because I’m me, we’re doing it all.
Now what does this have to do with next week?
Well it turns out there’s been a few schedule changes and I’ll be doing experiments for my PhD as well as for just about every other project we have going on at the moment. In other words, there’s a lot happening and I’m used to having to go in, do a bunch of experiments, and just keep going. The trick is that I have two papers I’m currently working on, on top of all these experiments. One of which is “last paper” which for those who don’t remember, needs a response soon before I hit the deadline (here).
Personally, I’m not sure where I’m going to find all the brain power I need to work through the stuff for last paper, much less this new paper I’ve been working on, but were going to try at least. The priority is getting the stuff done for our response anyway, hospital-PI is just being pushy with this new paper because we’re behind schedule (for him), so there’s a bit of pressure to get everything done.
Now I could, in theory anyway, get a head start on all of this. I could work on the response and this new paper over the weekend, but I’ve opted not to do that. The week is already going to kick off with experiments right out of the gate, so I would rather have some me time to just not do much brain work. Because as much fun as I have doing all this stuff, sometimes it’s just nice not to do a damned thing.
I’m sure it will make the week a bit harder, but in a lot of ways it will make it easier too. Going in exhausted won’t do me any favors and by the end of the week, when I have my next dissertation experiment (if all goes well, with the old equipment unfortunately… boo) I know the end will be just as exhausting as the beginning. Meaning I’m going to have to pace myself, at least a bit.
But that’s how I’m going to get all the work done I need to do, by pacing myself. When people say your PhD is a marathon, they really mean it. It’s exhausting and if you try to sprint through it, you’ll burn yourself out. Now everyone has a different pace, so some will finish before you, but the point is just finishing. Same thing applies to the week ahead of me. It will be yet another rough patch in that marathon, so the best course of action for me right now is just to do the bare minimum and try to relax.
After all, that’s the secret to how I’ve gotten this far. It’s just a matter of pacing myself, once I realized that things got a bit easier. Or maybe just less burdensome.
Sometimes the tank is just empty and there’s no use trying to work. I ran afoul of that earlier this week. I was already tired from my normal workday and other things, thought I would do an hour of coding before bed, and basically ended up staring at a computer screen for an hour instead – when I could have been sleeping. Oh well.
As usual, all the best. Hope you’re able to keep up with everything.
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May 21, 2022 at 10:15 pm
Oh no! I have problems with that too. I really try to catch myself when I’m trying to force myself to work, but it can be a struggle. The drive to always be productive is strong.
Thanks! I hope you get some rest!
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May 22, 2022 at 4:51 pm
Thank you! The good news is, I didn’t overdo it on Friday and yesterday was great. Probably one of the most productive Saturdays I’ve had in a while.
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May 22, 2022 at 5:04 pm