It’s been refreshing having time to catch up with my wife and kids. We even managed to spend a week in Paris and am now writing these words having had three meetings on Skype with my advisor. I sent an unfinished chapter on Motivation that we will no doubt return to one day. I’ve started the next chapter (headings and chapter plan only for now) and we’re talking about sample size and questionnaires which is great news. Not sure how the next few weeks will be – but I finally feel focussed on the research and am thinking about it from different angles. I’m also ensuring my days are spent as a student and evenings are family-and-me time. Hobbies such as photography and cycling have made a come-back too! Being a student and on holiday is a fun place to be: an important reminder to all those young people who wish their lives away wanting to rush to a working life after graduation.
Very much aware of the irony, but I need to move on from my chapter on Motivation and start my next chapter. In fact, if I’m going to go back to work later this year (I can’t remain a full-time student for long in case that’s not yet clear) I have to start thinking about my methodology too. I will send whatever I’ve done on the chapter to my advisor and hope we can call it a day on this for now. I hope to start my next chapter – on performance management – and to resume my Skype calls to talk about the next stage.
No more commutes, meetings, issues to deal with and strategy. Work on the house is completed apart from odd jobs here and there. My family are in London for the summer and I have a functioning study in the house. Coffee is my only excuse (fasting during the day during Ramadan) and even that is available during the evening. It’s time to drag this research back on track.
Decision time after my meeting with my supervisor and whilst not an easy decision it was a simple one to make. I said it many times and meant it, nothing should get in the way of this PhD and work – whether I liked it or not – had taken more time and energy than I had expected. Any other time in my life and this job would have been a great career to continue probably until retirement. The difficult period of setting up the teams and creating a positive environment was all done. It was time to look forward to the fruit but I will not be there for the harvest.
It’s just as well! Because although I was under the impression I was building something special, it looks like some members of management had other intentions. This would have been a battle I would have enjoyed winning but I have a more important battle of my own and I’ve never been clearer where to put my focus.
In case I felt I wasn’t distracted enough with life, this is how our home looks like today. We are confined to one room and a dining table for a kitchen. The plan was to study at my office at work but that’s about to change too (yes another post I think – just waiting for things to settle). Must find time. Must make time.
Yes, it’s April. No, I haven’t submitted anything to my supervisors for review. I met my main supervisor last week who was very concerned. I managed to reassure him but I will need to meet some serious milestones to show (in action not just words) that I am serious. It is shocking how long I have taken on this chapter. I reached 16k and tidied up the content to produce a cleaner 14k version in February. Since then, very little has happened. There are obvious gaps, and I’m hopeful that by the end of this month I will have something decent to call a draft. The time I need for my research is just not there. With all the pressure I put on my time outside work, I am still only able to produce an hour or so a day and a Saturday. This is only possible with disappointed kids, family, friends: often all on the same day.
I am at a cross-road (yes another one) and it looks like a difficult decision has to be made – or has been made. I feel the theoretical side of the research is something I can finally get my head around. The practical side was always clearer. To give up and let this slip out of my hands at this stage, and after some significant investments would be ludicrous.
This is what my supervisor said when I sent him an honest update of my delay – yet again – in getting some serious writing done. I’m so behind, I only found time today to update this blog. January was hectic at work and, with the end-of-year appraisals for my team and bank-wide, it flew like superman shooting to the moon. The truth is: there is time. There is always time. It’s focus and, ironically, motivation, that are lacking. Moving the PhD office to work… didn’t work like I had planned. Interruptions I expected, but deliberately finding a distraction is something I simply need to stop. Even outside the office, I spend way too much time on social media. The latter I’m not sure I want to stop – it provides sanity and contact that I enjoy.
I need to change the perception of my supervisor who was not reassured – despite my nice emails. His most recent reply included not only the title of this post, but also a line that said he found my progress ‘unsatisfactory’. I promised a chapter by the end of February (25th today and I’m just over the halfway mark); and another smaller chapter by the end of March.
Life (mainly my work life) is getting in the way. I need to get my act together or this will simply not happen! I haven’t made any progress in the past five weeks. Nothing at all, not even any significant reading. If I stop and think how much I’m wasting on my university fees it may give me another kick – one that I probably need. It’s time for some drastic action: less socialising (what it actually means is virtually zero socialising – at least for a while) and, more so, to know when to stop at work. My work days seem to get longer and longer. My two hours in the early morning are not well-utilised from cafe to cafe; and I’m too drained to do anything after a long day at the office and an evening jog. Research time has been gobbled up by end-of-year appraisals and more new initiatives that seem to only add to my workload. A long business trip (the first in months – but still) took out a good chunk of late November and early December – and any free time during the trip that was supposed to be for my research ended up being spent on much-needed leisure.
It’s not good enough! Guilt – in case it isn’t apparent – is eating away in chunks. My PhD now needs to muscle its way back into my life. Decision: I am moving my PhD desk to my office at work. This will give me two hours before ‘working hours’ and if I stay behind for two more hours I would get a total of four (pray, pray, pray). This should be an absolute minimum but it’s a start. On slow days (I am yet to have one!!) I could potentially take half an hour here or there on top – but I’m happy with the four if I can get them and would be very grateful. Having my notes, books, papers open and ready all day will hopefully add to the urgency and reduce the time it takes to set myself up every time I find a good spot at yet another cafe.
I’m packing. Should be in my new home over the weekend or Sunday at the latest.
November already… It would be unfair to say I haven’t had time to finish my motivation chapter – but if I had taken every available moment, I’m not sure I would be here today with the same frame of mind. Travel is almost non-existent in my new job but long days with meetings are fast becoming the norm. I am simply too tired to continue after a day at the office, short jog and family dinner.
My wife has been amazing and working out things at home (in fact doing everything in the morning including driving our kids to school) which gives me an hour or so in the early morning before I walk into the office and start my work day. I need to get my act together and find more time in the week and focus better during the weekends. Whilst I’ve missed this milestone (again), I will be able to submit something for motivation and performance management by the end of the year – and if I do that I will be happy. As I write this I’m at 13k words.
I do not need reminding that this is an important milestone and a deadline to stick to. I must complete my literature review on Motivation by the end of October. On a short family holiday last week, I spent more time in the hotel lounge than anywhere else (including sleep) and am a third of the way as I write these words. I need to get to the more quality content after finalising a draft structure and putting in around 10k words (of which half will probably remain) as an introduction to the topic and the relevant theories.