Wednesday, 20 May 2015

The First Three Months

Words written: 8,500
Supervisions attended: 2
Cakes baked: 4

I can't believe that it's been just over three months since I started this PhD. The transition has been less dramatic than I thought it would be, although I have learned a lot over the last few weeks. And there's still a lot more to get adjust to. I'm sure in three months time, I'll look back on myself now and not quite be able to believe that I knew so little.

Hopefully, these recaps will give me some perspective, as well as a prompt to set (and reflect on) short term-goals.


I think part of the reason that this transition has been less difficult than I thought it might be is because I've started developing routines. Some of these relate to my PhD work: for example, I always arrive at the workroom around 8.30 because I know this is when I do my best work. Some are more about making sure I take time away from the PhD. Regular lunch dates and weekly swimming sessions don't take me away from the PhD for that long, but they help me keep things in perspective. Finally, some routines are just as a consequence of moving house and our routines changing: with open kitchen living room, the Doctor and I hang out much more when we're making/washing up dinner. 

I've also made a conscious decision to try my best to attend as many relevant conferences and research seminars as I can. Many people I've spoken to say that they wish they hadn't waited until so late in their PhD to start going to these sorts of events. For me, it isn't so much about networking. (I don't find these events that sociable - is it just me?) It's more about seeing how other people approach and disseminate their research. I figure that once I have any research of my own, I'll know more about how to talk about it.

The only problem I've found so far is that between these events and work commitments, I can sometimes be quite far away from the actual research thing. I'm really excited for a one-day conference this Saturday, but coming after two weeks of lots of travel and very little time in the workroom, I'm a bit anxious that I haven't actually done any research in a while. I think I still need to plan my time better.

The other thing I've tried hard to do is to write. A lot. I get very anxious about putting work out there, and I don't ever want to be in a position where I'm sitting down to start writing my first draft. I figure if I write as I go, I can cannibalise these little snippets when I start writing properly.  Of course, part of my commitment to writing is this blog. Which I am still confused about. I don't know whether I just want to focus on my research, or on this PhD process more broadly. I don't know who the audience is. I don't know who would even care to read it. I don't know how to find the other first year PhD students who might find any of this relevant. Thoughts would be very welcome! At the moment, I'm just intending to keep on doing it and see where it goes. But that isn't a particularly long-term plan.

Goals for the Next Three Months

  • Finish reading my primary texts.

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