Every week I make a list of all the things I have to do that week- a to do list. Before Christmas I had a couple of things I hadn’t managed to finish and I thought I would tackle them during the holidays. What was I thinking? Did I think that my 4 year old and my 6 year old would even vaguely allow this? Or that the Christmas holidays include zero social engagement!? Seriously: of course I didn’t do those things. I spent two hours on one morning reminding myself what those things were (basically gazing at my computer screen in a bit of a daze) before I had to return to more food prep whilst simultaneously helping children with two different crafts (they couldn’t agree on the same one so one did clay whilst the other funnelled coloured sand into tiny bottles?!). And then during our various social activities people would kindly enquire if I was working over Christmas? Or if I was allowed to take leave as a student- just reminding me of those outstanding tasks! Of course, I would remind them that yes there is always work to be done. But I can take proper leave because I am also a grown up doing a PhD. And then I felt a bit guilty.
So, now let me explain how this works. I knew this in advance of course but here it is. Yes as a PhD student your time is yours to manage. But there is ALWAYS work to be done! This is both good and bad. And there was one occasion last year where this became a little stressful (where school holidays clashed with a significant milestone in my project). Now I work well with this model in general- I can work when I wish, I am pretty self-motivated and my studies allow me to be somewhat flexible and pick up kids etc. I really enjoy my PhD but I also feel an obligation to be continuously working. Always on it. Always being productive.
This is where I recall my undergraduate student days- where anytime I sat down to watch TV in my final year I would immediately feel a pang of guilt in the depth of my stomach. What was I thinking: I can’t watch an episode of a terrible but well known TV soap when I have to revise for my finals/write an essay/prepare for placement. And then I also recall the amazing feeling in the first month of working- my weekends were my own! I had NO HOMEWORK! I could frolic through Hackney (where I then lived) with no one to answer to except myself. Wahooooooo. Obviously that is just being 22 years old. Obviously I am not 22 years old. And I don’t wish to frolic through Hackney any longer- I am just not hip enough.
As my New Years resolution I have decided to remind myself not to stress about it. I do really love doing my PhD. I feel I can affect the lives of more patients and more therapists with the work I am doing. I can make a difference. I have sat back down at my computer this morning (having been swimming first because it stimulates my brain and I manage my own time whoop) and it really is super interesting. I can’t wait to finalise my lecture for next week and continue writing the piece of work I am currently focused on. And I am basically allowed to manage my own time- be my own boss. So maybe I should just remind myself to give myself some slack. To enjoy it. It is AWESOME! Truly.