If you’ve ever had to move house, you already know what stress really is. It’s not an easy thing to do under any circumstance [especially if your WiFi wrecks your carefully planned blog queueing plans!-Ed.] but during a PhD it can be doubly stressful.
This last couple of weeks has been a bit of a whirlwind of arranging movers, wrangling friends, asking for a little flexibility at my various jobs, and trying to remember that I’m a PGR at the same time! The PhD has, sadly, been at the back of my mind this week, but my first fieldwork trip is in the offing next month, so it can’t be ignored. At the moment, though, it has to be second in line after wrapping crockery in newspaper.
Some things I’ve learned during this move include letting your supervisors know. They need to know why you might go dark for a week or two, why you might be a little delayed when asked for progress reports, and why you might need another few days to submit that chunk of text for them. After all, you have a lot to sort out, and that might include a stressed partner,struggling dependant, or kids running about messing up your beautifully clean old place!
I’ve also learned to keep my PhD stuff separate! You may have scores of books, notepads, flash drives, scraps of notes, folders full of data. That all has to be in one place when you move into the new gaff, or it could be complete chaos when you need to access your stuff! I’ve started taking photos of my work table, so I can see what was where, making a note, and taking a shot of the big, heavy box of PhD stuff. If any of this gets lost after that, I definitely won’t be telling you on here…
The big one for me is probably going to be not feeling guilty that I haven’t been working constantly on my thesis and fieldwork plans during the move. I have a tendency to beat myself up, and that always intensifies under stress. So, if you’re like me (and you probably are if you’re an arts PhD) and you struggle with feeling unproductive when things crop up, take a break every now and then from lugging boxes and taking meter readings, remember that this is a difficult thing you’re doing, and don’t beat yourself up too much over this.
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