Choosing to continue study and begin a PhD is a daunting decision, you know what’s more daunting though? Actually doing it.
I’m a month into my PhD and I’ve taken to reading PhD-focussed blogs in my spare time – I’m the first PhD new start of my friendship group, so it’s a way to validate my own thoughts and feelings on beginning this new stage in my academic life. A PhD is scary. It’s like this huge mountain ahead of you that you know you have to climb, you want to climb it, and you’re just attempting to make sure you’ve got enough energy and knowledge to get to the top. I’ve been suitably reassured by the people around me, through reading blogs and following people on Twitter, that this is a completely normal this to feel. If you’re feeling it to – get it touch! Tweet me @whatheidisays.
Anyway, I’m not very good at just being scared about stuff, I tend to work to find something to stop the fear and get on top of it. In the hope that I could stop this fear I joined an online chat, a webinar type thing but more of a group discussion, and that really helped. There was a comments box on the side of the screen so I could see what others in the discussion were saying – and they had similar ideas to me! Surprise, surprise, my ideas might actually be alright?!
There was also a few details on productivity and managing your time well, which I’m going to take on board and begin next week (Monday, new start and all that). I find that improving my productivity is a sure-fire way of putting any fears or nerves to bed, so if you’re in need of a productivity boost, here are the top two things I took away from the discussion:
Small efforts can lead to a big impact
The discussion was focussed on improving healthcare in Scotland (details in the link below), we heard the story of ‘the daily mile’ project – essentially, a brilliant teacher in Stirling, Scotland, was trying to get her class at school, fit. She took the children out of lessons for 20 minutes each day and walked a mile around the school grounds with them, gradually they began to jog for parts of it, then run. The daily mile became a routine part of their day, so much so that the families of these children began doing the daily mile too. I found this story really quite uplifting, and it’s helped give me a bit of perspective on this PhD journey – yes, it’s a big task, but I’m just chipping away at it and eventually I’ll get there. My daily mile equivalent is reading at least 2 journal articles a day – I have a huge folder marked ‘To Read’ and this will help whittle down its contents.
Innovation is great but exnovation is often better
There’s been a huge push for innovation for years now; technology, healthcare, everything! Exnovation though, is something I hadn’t really thought about until this talk. In the process of innovation we tend to build up redundant things – for example, we start using an online calendar, but there’s still a paper one needing to be filled in for some reason or another. Getting rid of all these tasks and details of your life that really hold no value is exnovation. I think it’s brilliant, there must be loads of things I do day-to-day that don’t benefit my productivity levels at all – so I’m going to begin this initiative next week. First on the list, is going through that ‘To Read’ folder I mentioned earlier, and getting rid of all the papers outdated or unrelated to my research field, the ones I’ve put in because they look interesting but will be of absolutely no use to my studies.
If you fancy a look at past recordings and details of future webinars similar to the one I listened to, they’re available here.