One of the problems with doing a PhD by research in the UK, is that effectively, your time and how you manage it is your own. There’s no coursework, and no set hours that you have to be anywhere. It’s freeform and open and unless you’re very, very careful, that vastness of possibility can go disastrously awry. I’ve heard horror stories. (I will not say if I’ve seen them, as I would never narc out my fellows on something like this.)
In my case, my work is completely on track. I am right on schedule with my research proposal. I’ve kept up with my output, not missed any meetings or deadlines, and have found the “work” portion of the PhD process fulfilling. It’s the life part that I’m not doing so hot on.
So, these are my new rules for life-work balance, effective 18 May, about 4:30 in the morning, when I woke up and couldn’t back to sleep, as the sun that shines on this country doesn’t understand that 4:30 isn’t an appropriate time to come up.
- New Rule #1: No more caffeine. It’s a crutch, and a crutch I’ve kicked before and need to again. I expect to feel pretty crap for a week or so as I get this poison out of my system.
- New Rule #2: No more meat. I only feel guilty eating it, and I was doing really well for awhile, but I got lazy. Plus, it makes me sleepy.
- New Rule #3: No more drinking, except on Thursday, Friday or Saturday nights. Only 1 drink per hour when I do go out. No more drinking because everyone else is, or because I’m bored or sad or angsty or nervous around people.
- New Rule #4: I must be in the office every weekday, unless I’m lecturing or being lectured to.
- New Rule #5: Corollary to the previous rule, no more working at all on the weekends, INCLUDING ANSWERING EMAILS EVEN JUST ONE WHAT WOULD IT HURT TO ANSWER JUST ONE.
- New Rule #6: Don’t do that thing. You know what thing. Don’t do it.
Hopefully, by following these rules, which one friend already declared, “harsh and unjust,” I can get myself back on a more even keel, and feel generally better day-to-day. I need to do something, because while I’m happy with my work, I’m not happy with myself, and that’s not sustainable.