I think it’s fair to say I didn’t exactly hit the ground running when I got back to work on Wednesday. I spent a fair amount of the morning doing some of that productive procrastination i.e. looking at travel options for a conference I’m attending in June. Overall an important task, at some point I’ll need to actually arrange how I’m getting to the conference (in Paris), but it didn’t really help me knock anything off my to do list. So first of all I’ll explain why I was only back on Wednesday and not Tuesday like the rest of the working world. I wasn’t being a lazy slacker, around Easter (and also Christmas) the university has some closure days, these are in addition to our holiday allowance and meant that the university was closed from Thursday last week and re-opened on Wednesday this week. 6 day break: BLISS 🙂
So before the Easter break I took my own advice and made a to do list for this week, so I wouldn’t need to think about where to start when I got back. This was a good theory but Wednesday was still slow and it took me until the afternoon to really get cracking. I did get plenty set up on Wednesday afternoon though, the downside to microbiology is bacteria need time to grow – usually overnight. At least on Thursday morning I genuinely felt like I’d hit the ground running, by lunchtime I had already achieved more than I did on Wednesday. I really do think the list helped – after a break, even a short one – it can be hard to switch your brain straight back on. Making yourself a list of what to do when you get back gives you a chance to get things going and think about them once you’ve started, avoiding those “oh dear should’ve done that yesterday, so I can do this today” moments. Thursday would’ve been no where near as productive as it was if I hadn’t left myself instructions for Wednesday.
It was only a short break and a productive Thursday means my brain is now fully awake and back in working mode. Our office and lab are really quiet (like the rest of the campus), a lot of people have taken the rest of this week off, but I’m quite glad of the gentle 3 day week to ease me back into doing anything that requires my brain being switched on. I have a lot coming up over the next few months, I’m about the hit the 7month mark which is scary! In June I’ll have my first year talk where I’ll be presenting my work to the department followed by questions from the audience (I have to try really hard not to panic whenever I think about it). Last week I submitted my title so that’s first job done. Two months seems like a long time but considering how quickly the last 7 have gone I really should get cracking soon before it creeps up on me. On top of this I’ll also have my Probation Review – could it sound any more intimidating! This involves a report (~8000words) which is submitted to my thesis committee, we’ll then have a meeting where they grill me on it’s contents. The point of the review is to ensure you’re reaching the expected standard for a PhD and also that what you plan to do for the remaining two years is achievable, if you pass this you officially progress into your second year.
I’m currently feeling a little vague about the process. Every department has their own guidelines, so while we were given information at the beginning of the year it was fairly generalised. All I’ve been issued from my department is the timetable I got given in my first week, it tells me my report and “the grilling” (more commonly known as a viva) need to be completed before the 1 year mark – 30/09/2014. Now I’m very aware that I need to take responsibility for my own work so one of my jobs for either this week or next is to work out who to email to get a better idea of what is expected of me (hopefully someone can tell me!). If I find out I’ll let you know. In between all this I have a week long conference to attend so I don’t think I’m going to be short of things to do anytime soon.