PhD check-up: 9 months to go!

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I woke up this morning with a to-do list as my first thought. Since I started this PhD, I feel that I am always behind everything. This is not the person I used to be. I used to be punctual, finishing tasks well before the deadlines etc. As I was getting busier and busier and couldn’t manage things anymore, my time management skills needed to step up. I am better at making plans now and, honestly, writing down stuff really helps in keeping track.

If you remember my old article about my New Year’s Resolutions, I decided to unload most of the weight I was carrying on my shoulders. 2018 was one of the hardest years of my life. One of the biggest mistakes I made was to commit to too many things. I was consistently burning out, lacked sleep, relying on caffeinated drink, not sleeping enough. This negatively affected my research and my personal life. Definitely one of the areas I had to work on was my social media management. Instagram and my blog grew incredibly. Separating real and virtual life was hard. I was constantly checking notifications, even in the middle of the night, putting on social media everything which crossed my mind and the biggest mistake was to turn out to my social platforms to shout out my frustration. A nice recipe for disaster.

I decided to put some boundaries to what I share on social media now.

I don’t bring my phone in my bedroom anymore, I decided to post 2/3 time a week, don’t bring my phone in the lab anymore (I still do sometimes but I definitely reduce its use during working hours). I still get a bit distracted so I decided to download an app BrainFocused which will lock my screen and prevent me to use my phone when I am at work. Need to adopt drastic methods.

Needless to say that one of the things I had to work on was increasing productivity in the lab. I try to read one paper a day. I didn’t stick to it but my reading has been doing much better. I try to squeeze reading a paper in between my spare time, waiting for instruments, long reactions etc although some days my lab workload is too much to do it. Taking a one month break for Christmas was also good. I have been so productive in the lab recently. I am keen on testing new ideas, I take initiative on planning new experiments, I am more vocal in group meetings and problem sections. I feel like I am getting a real scientist. I will keep up the good work!

For the first time in years my anxiety and depression are at my lowest

My mental health and self-care routine also improved. I can definitely see the benefits of daily meditation and going to Yoga 3 times a week. I am much calmer and focused. My anxiety and depression are at my lowest and I couldn’t be any happier because of this. Sorry if I repeat myself, but the book The Mindful Way Through Depression has been a life changer.

Unfortunately, not everything went according to plan. I struggle a lot with my social life ad the reason why I put so much afford in my career is that it’s much easier for me to plan 10 experiments or writing 10 blog articles than arranging a night out. My plan was to introduce a leisure activity in my schedule and going out at least once a month. I didn’t do any of this. This makes me sad but at the same time, I have come to accept that this is my introvert attitude. Despite our modern society wants people to be engaging, chatty and easy-going, it’s perfectly okay to spend your Friday and Saturday evenings at home reading a book, lighting a candle and listening to relaxing music.

So here the to-do list for Febrary (similar agenda can be found here):

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See you on March, for the monthy update. Stay cool!