We’re firmly marching towards my birthday [pauses to receive birthday wishes]. It is utterly alarming because June 1st means we’re half way through 2022. How can that be, already? As last year’s birthday was a bit of a post-surgery-recovery-write-off, I’m going to claim I’m 40 this year. Again.
It has been a mucky year up to this point but I feel like the last week has turned a corner. Let’s brush over the muck (brush off the muck? Hmmm, I think I’m mixing my metaphors because I’m out of blogging practice) and focus on the positives. Like the fact that the house is more or less complete now, following our move and renovations, so life is much calmer. Or that I’m regularly getting 6+ hours sleep now we’ve invested in one of those fancy, adjustable beds. Yes, we’re totally down with the kids.
In the last week, I’ve also refound my PhD stride. I’m back with my chums on PhD Forum (link) more often, when meetings allow. Also, I’ve gone back to old school methods and reinstated my bullet journal. It’s a really simple but effective way of organising the noise in my head, particularly when I’m juggling multiple things. Essentially, there are official rules you can check out online (link) but my system is simple:
- a square bullet is a task
- a circular bullet is a meeting or appointment
- a dot means I’ve started
- shading means it’s completed
- an arrow means I’ve moved it to another day or week
- a cross means it was cancelled
In addition to this, I lay out pages differently to organise work and diaries and the month ahead and plans and notes. I love how it gives me a sense of completion and that it helps me to break larger chunks of work into manageable actions. I am predisposed to spend far, far too much time making my bullet journals look pretty – but as I recognise that’s actually an act of procrastination, I’m avoiding it this time and keeping things plain.
Also this week, I’m on the final part of my data analysis and I’m so close to returning to the actual writing. I’ve also got to grips with the overall thesis structure. It’s a little like a jigsaw puzzle at the moment: I’m still scrabbling around for some pieces which are missing; I’ve done all the corners and most of the edges; there are a few wonky pieces where I tried to force them into the wrong spots; a few random patches of completed puzzle are dotted all over the table but I’m not yet sure where they fit in the final picture. But, still, it all feels like progress and I’m looking forward to discussing plans with my supervisors this week.
Over the last few months, I’ve had the privilege of working as a research assistant on a project within my department (www.EmbedEDI.com). I’ve landed myself in a brilliant team: knowledgeable, patient, creative and collegiate. The PI has a great approach in making us all feel equally valued. This week has been a period of firsts… Not only is this my first role in a project, but I’ve also had the chance to co-write my first conference abstract – fingers crossed we’re successful. Also, for the first time, I was involved in a presentation that isn’t focused on my own MA or PhD research. I’m loving every minute of it because the research is so important and it’s beginning to take on a life of its own.
A small but mighty win for the week is my desk set up. This must be my third or fourth work from home blog post but, in my defence, we have moved house. The details are dull – so I will be brief – but essentially I’ve managed to sort out my second monitor to a more reasonable height. In turn, this means I’ve been able to lower my desk chair. All of which has meant that my left hip has stopped raging in protest and I feel significantly younger. Although, it will still be a little achy if my wife asks about any chores or DIY!
I know I need to tidy my desk but how’s that for a high-impact-low-cost solution? Took off the monitor’s fixed stand and I’ve rested it on a book stand I already had.
Anyway, the tiny cynic I carry in my head is cautioning that celebrating recent wins will mean I’ll tempt some sort of catastrophe. I’ve told her to shut up. But in an unpublishable fashion.