Monday, 31 March 2014

This time last year

This time last year, I was writing a PhD.

This time last year, the winter was cold and sad and murky. I took little lonely walks by the river, in between PhD writing. I wondered if I would actually ever finish.

This time last year, a glimmer of hope appeared as I discovered the Procrastination Book. I realized that there was a way to do the PhD without having to feel quite as bad about it as I was feeling. I learned that it’s not only OK to have guilt-free time off for fun, it’s absolutely necessary. This time last year, I felt like I had stopped doing it all wrong, and was starting to do it ever so slightly more ‘right’.

This time last year, I enjoyed my birthday. Thankfully, the Procrastination Bible stopped it from being a PhD-birthday, one of those things where you let yourself be taken out for dinner but spend the whole time thinking ‘I shouldn’t be here, I should be working’ as you smile at people through tightly pressed lips. I promised myself that this was to be my last ever birthday of PhD-writing. (and I felt pretty safe on that one, since they weren’t going to allow me to drag it out for another year.)

This time last year, I was seeing a therapist, for the first time in my life. (I miss her, by the way. She was lovely. I’ve been told I can have an ‘emergency one-off appointment’ if I ever need it. It’s nice to know that the offer’s there, and even nicer to know that, actually, I am not desperately in need of it anymore.)

This time this year:

I have been to a conference, wearing a badge that said ‘Dr’ on it. And people congratulated me.

This time this year, I enjoyed a birthday on which there was no PhD to write. No chapters to plan. Not even an abstract, or anything. Not a sausage. (The fact that I was ill and couldn’t have a glass of wine was the only disappointment.)

This time this year, I still dip into The Procrastination Bible (and all the other motivational bibles on my Kindle) more often than any other books.

There’s only one very small cloud on the PhD-free horizon. Corrections. I must do them. I have a feeling that you’re not supposed to ignore them for much longer than this.


  1. Hi Cloud Nine!

    Just did some important catching up on your blog. :-) Glad you are still writing. I hope the job rejections are not getting you down too much! I'm in the same boat and about to take an administrator role (I didn't put my phd on it, but now I'm freaking out that I'll be caught out as a phd student... at least I under rated myself!). Still applying for other more "suitable" positions.

    I also enjoyed Cal Newport webpage you posted (and admit that I spent way to long there looking at many others of his post). I think I've always tried to attach too much meaning to work and now I'm going to find a job that I like, in a field that I think is important and not stress so much about if this is my passion! I'm finding passions in other things in life (thinking about going in a sprint triathlon!).

    I'm still waiting for my corrections (I did my PhD in Australia and we have a slightly different examination system - on the plus side no defense which I'm glad about as my brain often ceases to work when standing in front of other people - it's a surreal experience). Anyway the reason I write this, is that my corrections are due in early May and I hope by then that your corrections are all finished! I think you are in the UK somewhere (I just moved here) and the weather will be bad this weekend (at least where I am) so might be a good time to dive into those corrections! If you can get them finished before I get my corrections back, than you'll be able to motivate me to get mine done as soon as possible! Good luck! I'm looking forward to hearing soon that they are no longer a small cloud in your horizon! Best wishes (and sorry for sounding so high and mighty - I'm also a procrastinator through and through so I know the pain you suffer!)

  2. Replies
    1. Dear Argggggg,

      How are you?? I took your advice, and I have to say thank you - you actually motivated me to sit down and start my corrections properly, when nothing else would!... (I have sat down and looked at them before, and made some notes, and always got up and walked off to some more interesting/ urgent project. This time, I am actually planning on finishing them, and then binding the thing again and sending it off ONCE AND FOR ALL!)

      Meaningful work - I know that problem, I've been exactly the same. I'm also looking for just a 9 to 5 job (these jobs are very nice, and very rare... but I am pretty confident I can get one), one which would let me have my brain to myself in the evenings and at weekends, leaving time for playing!... (Your triathlon sounds fun. You should go for it!)

      Anyway, thank you so much for the good advice. I'm racing you to the finish line with those corrections. And WELL DONE for finishing your PhD AND finding a job! (the bit about having to lie about PhD and dreading being found out made me laugh!... It's the typical predicament of the CV liar, but in reverse.)

      Lots of love xxx

  3. Hi Cloud-Nine,

    Do not ever under-estimate yourself on your CV about not doing a PhD, the last weekend was torture as I had put I was "Research Assistant" as I thought they would never take me for an admin job if they found I had tried to do a PhD. Unfortunately the job was for an insurance company that wanted a five year background check. I spent a weekend with very little sleep freaking out about how horribly wrong it could all go! In a rational state I thought worst comes to worst I won't get the job and can never use that recruiter again, but in the middle of the night I thought I would be accused of fraud and have a lengthy prison sentence (my imagination went wild!).

    Anyway they emailed my supervisor (or "boss" as indicated by my CV) for a reference and I could never ask that someone like my supervisor to lie! So I emailed the recruiter and informed them I was actually doing a research degree and omitted it earlier as I thought it wasn't relevant (and hasn't yet been awarded)... then I spent five minutes freaking out before receiving an email back that basically said "No worries" and got a call the following day saying I could start the next day! Phewwww but still I created way more drama then I needed!

    (The job is okay, definitely no where near my ideal role, but in some ways it beats being at home wearing slippers all day.)

    1. I had some useful advice from a careers guru recently: don't hide your PhD, and DO put it on your CV and be proud of it, but... if the job you are applying for is the sort for which a PhD is not required/ might make you seem over-qualified, put the PhD on the SECOND page of the CV. Your first page is the 'impact' page. Put everything on it that is relevant to the job. The PhD can go later.

      Small bit of advice, but it might just come in useful one of these days.

      Congratulations on your job - tis a foot in the door of the 'traditional' workplace - now you are going to have new practical skills on your CV, and one day you can combine these and your AMAZING cleverness and creativity and go for a job that needs both!! :)