Running before I can walk

30 Jan

It’s been a week of ups and downs really, and it can be summed up pretty well by the phrase ‘running before you can walk!’ I’ve started to look at some of Maurice’s diaries as I’m itching to get into my primary research, and it’s been great fun so far! However, I met my supervisor last week and she says I need to stay focused on finishing my Lit Review, to be followed by a method section. I really shouldn’t be getting ahead of myself and trying to research without having established my method. I need to know exactly how I’m going to read the diaries, and what information I’m going to take from them, or I’ll only end up doing the work twice. I’m just a bit disheartened because I want to read the ‘fun’ stuff and not current literature for my review. But at least I’ve had a little preview of just how good things are going to get!

I’ve been on a few skills development days over the last week and finding them quite useful. In ‘Managing your research project’ I filled in a timetable of exactly how I fill my week. Other students shared theirs for comparison and it was interesting to see the mix of those who have no other commitments and treat the PhD as a Monday-Friday 9-5, and those like me who’s timetable is all higgly-piggly around my part time work. I felt jealous at first, but actually I think I quite like mixing up my week. These courses are the only times I really meet other students, and I have to remind myself not to compare my progress and working style with theirs as we are all working on different projects that need different things from us. There’s no point me panicking that I’m behind, when actually I might just be doing different things in different ways.

I recently read the ‘Vitae’ guide for being a balanced researcher and have been trying out a few tips from that to help my motivation. It suggested not reading emails until later in the day, which helps me as I always open them first thing and then get distracted for hours sorting them out. Now I get a good spell done first thing. I also liked the tips about just taking time out every now and then to completely forget about the research. I find that if I try and have a weekend off then I wonder if I should still be taking some books with me, and then I feel guilty if I dont get onto them. So I had a nice weekend home with my family in Somerset last weekend catching up on my main PhD distraction of Wedding planning. I’m looking forward to that being over with in August and then I wont be tempted to google wedding bits anymore when I should be working!

Yesterday I went to ‘Writing for publication’, which was perhaps a bit premature as I have nothing lined up yet for publication, but I am hoping I might be able to get an article out this year. I might try and go back to an essay I wrote in my Masters that did well, or maybe try a case study of an object from the Egerton Collection (the Rhino is looking like a good bet for this!)

Well, I have a long month or two ahead of Lit Review, which may get me down, so sorry if the posts get a bit gloomy from here.



3 Responses to “Running before I can walk”

  1. mtchelzbt January 31, 2013 at 9:13 am #

    Woah, it’s a bit weird reading your blog, too much like looking in a mirror! I have same dilemma, have been reading through the Mary Greg letters at Manchester, which is the real gold at the heart of my project. But at the same time, have a sneaking suspicion that I should be focusing more on theory! And oh, the juggle! I too went to ‘Managing your Research’ (were we there on the same day?!) and found it incredibly useful but really envied those students who have no other responsibilities to manage.

    Ironically, I had to cancel my place on Time Management the previous week!

    MIRIAD runs a writers’ workshop on Wednesday mornings which is brilliant. It was the first session of the new term yesterday and we focused on effective note-taking, which is an art in itself, that I haven’t got cracked yet. I seem to find myself taking so many quotes that I end up just transcribing the book! So some handy hints for avoiding this. Don’t know if this session is open to students outside MIRIAD but if so, you might be interested?

    I think a little dose of the good stuff (so to speak) is no bad thing every now and then, to remind you why you wanted to do this thing in the first place!

    • sarahandherphd January 31, 2013 at 5:50 pm #

      I did wonder if I saw you on that course. Did you give the example about having kids and walking your dog? I was in the front row and gave the example of having a part time job so catching up at weekends. I thought it was likely we would cross at some point! It’s nice to know you are facing similar issues! Like I said, I know I shouldn’t compare myself to others too much, but it is still nice to know there are people out there who can empathise with me! Good luck with everything

      • mtchelzbt February 5, 2013 at 4:18 pm #

        Oh! Yes, that was me! I remember being very impressed at your disciplined approach to Sundays. I think it’s very human to take reassurance from people in the same boat, even though technically it doesn’t really change the nature of the challenge. Certainly makes me feel better. I’ve got a few more sessions coming up over next few weeks, so will keep an eye out for you!

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