February was a busy month if you remember I started it with a to-do list. I had to deal with loads of stuff on top of my research. I organised an OutReach event, had loads of training on career development and CV writing, I went to the doctor a few times. I always promise myself to be less busy but I always find a way to do something. I started forgetting to get my medications, had headaches at work and decided to slow down and rest. I know very well all the signs that my body gives to me and forgetting to take meds is one of them. I made sure to sleep enough, up to 12 h a few consecutive nights and went for a one-day gateway to the spa.
Firstly my PhD might be longer than expected. Due to loads of complications, changing labs, changing supervisor, changing research project, depression, anxiety, family problems (what else?), I will not be able to finish my PhD in time. In the UK, a PhD programme lasts only 4 years including thesis submission. This has its pros and cons. We are lucky enough to see the light at the end of the tunnel but at the same time, there’s loads of pressure to produce results in a short period of time. For my own piece of mind, I decided to apply for an extension and ask for six more months to write up my thesis. This was a hard decision because I will not get paid and I will live on my own savings. I could find a job but I prefer to focus on my writing and be done with it asap. So 8 months to go until my funding runs out and I will be unemployed, unpaid again!
For my own piece of mind, I decided to apply for an extension and ask for six more months to write up my thesis.
Life isn’t only my PhD and I tend to assess how well or badly I do in the other facets of my life. As I put loads of time and afford in my career, PhD and social media, I get little time to actually enjoy social life. Nor than I complain about it, but I started reading that isolation and too much time on social media are actually bad for mental health. So I decided to tackle the problem, spending less time on social and more on everyday life with friends. How to fix my addiction to social media, notifications and the fear of missing out?
First of all, I downloaded an app, called Brain Focused which blocks my screen during working hours. So the app is based on the Pomodoro technique, quick has been found really effective in optimising performance at work. So you get to work for 25 min, then you get 5 min break and you repeat the cycle 4 times. After this, you get a 20 min break. My productivity really improved and I got loads of work done in the lab and in the office. I searched and read far more papers than before, I wrote an abstract for a conference in July, prepared all the documents for the extension, had the time to complete a career development module that will help writing my CV. I also wrote loads of articles for my website. If you get easily distracted at work I definitely recommend downloading one of this app. Or buying a timer which does the work for you.
Secondly, I had to know how bad was my addiction to social media was. So, I decided to download another app called Stay Free, which monitor how much time I actually spent on social media. I used them for one week as I normally used to without giving a limit. Before that, I deleted one of my Instagram pages because you really don’t need to put every crap you do on social media! Here my stats:
So, I actually didn’t do as badly as I thought, my daily use of Twitter and Facebook is pretty low, 30 min each day. My biggest problem is Instagram as I spend more than 3 hours there every day. This doesn’t come as a surprise because I actually create loads of content for my channel and I tend to be more engaging than the other two platforms. I will give a limit to it tough and try to spend less than 2 hours per day. How? I won’t use my phone on my way to work, one hour walking in total, and I will try to use it less before going to bed and early in the morning. Very easy to say, less easy to put into practice.
Another way to save up time on social media is to actually enjoy real connections in life.
I was so happy to be able to go out 3 times this months and spend time with my friends. I also decided to start going to a crochet club every Tuesday night so that I can make a bit more time to dedicate to this hobby of mine. It was so fun to be there and talk to a nice group of awesome ladies who have nothing to do with science.
See you next month for loads of exciting news including the Women In Chemistry conference and my forthcoming trip to Italy!
READ IMPORTANT: Just want to say that I changed research group after failing my first year and my PhD and research has been going much better. I also believe that I am getting a real scientist now and I hopefully graduate next year!