Finding PhD Balance

Hello Readers,

My recent silence has been as a result of a period of introspection and adjustment that has left me uninterested in blogging. A series of changes in my life such as returning to Australia from the UK, moving house, changing workload and taking over as editor of a graduate journal has left me feeling somewhat disorientated.

Part of this confusion comes from the fact that until the end of the year, my workload is greatly reduced. Although naturally one can spend an almost infinite amount of time on PhD research, the reality is that i’ve been juggling tasks for so long now that it feels weird to only be doing my PhD. They say that if you want something done you should ask a busy person, and there is something to that saying. When I am busier I get more done on everything that i’m doing. A powerful sense of leisure has come over me, a feeling that is not an accurate representation of the situation. I am not at ease, I have a thesis to finish! Since I have comparatively less things to think about on a daily basis, it feels sort of lazy, sinful even.

I have moved house to a very warm, supportive share house and like being at home, which is an interesting contrast to recent months in which home has essentially been a place for me to land, refuel and take off again. As a result, I have to renegotiate my work/life balance while simultaneously renegotiating my thesis workload.

Having said that, i’m making steady progress with my current draft. I think that in essence, I need to start working like I did in the first six months of my PhD, where developing my proposed topic was my sole priority. I have some kind of weird multitasking PTSD, which needs to be overcome before I can feel engaged and productive again. I am also left with this inescapable feeling that my PhD candidature is about 50% done, which makes me feel distinctly ‘middle aged’ as a postgraduate. Maybe this is a mid-PhD crisis? Does that mean that I have to avoid the academic equivalent of dating a younger woman and buying a Porsche?

Next year promises to be intense (which I am perversely looking forward to), with a few big conferences and a lot of tutoring. Weirdly enough, the anxiety that I have too much to do bothers me much less than having too little to do (or feeling as such). 2012 will be awesome, but before it can come about I have to make the most of 2011’s remaining months. This means coming to terms with my environment, work ethic, thesis and lifestyle. Fun, interesting, but a source of anxiety!

Well enough about that! I’ll leave it there. I can feel a thesis theory post coming on, so keep your eyes peeled!

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