The Balancing Act is not Balanced

Months are again going by with so many hours spent working and virtually no work on the PhD.  I’ve taken a week off in a bid to right the path again and restart working on my research.  I’m meeting my supervisor again in April to kick-start this again.  I will spend a week going through the collected data and will finally be able to see how to make sense of it all.  This will hopefully help me make a better story of my research which is again losing focus.

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Two Months of Not Much

September crept up very quickly.  I noticed my last post here was back in June.  I managed very little since then but I am moving forward.  Immediately after the family holiday in California, I stopped over in London and spent a whole day with my supervisor.  We discussed secondary sources of data, sampling, and the questionnaire in detail.  Since then I did very little due to three main distractions: the holy month of Ramadan, the terrible bombing of a mosque in Kuwait, and a very busy spell at work.  I don’t mean busy at work with meetings and emails… It’s been a period of writing and calling job applicants, being there for hundreds of assessments in July, and conducting a hundred interviews August and September.  All this, with ‘work’ having to find its way into the day, week and weekend, somewhere.

Therefore PhD work didn’t have a chance.  My family, until last week, were still in London which meant that late evenings were relatively free.  Although I was exhausted from work, I did manage to work a little on the questionnaire design.  Late August, I shared it with both supervisors and their comments were positive.  Waiting for some more feedback on my revised draft.  I need to start working on translations and uploads so that I can meet my milestone for the pilot study (needs to be completed by the end of October).  This is going to be challenging when I look at the next six weeks.  They are looking to be even busier at work than July and August were!

$64,000 Question

Instead of perfecting my theory, and reducing some of the quoted material, I wanted to get into something a little more practical.  I’ve started looking at the questions that I will ask in the survey, and at what each of these questions (or a cluster of questions) will capture.  Although this too is theory-based, I will be able to switch on and off easily from it- unlike writing a critical review of the literature.  In this way I am hoping to be able to get back into it as work is starting to invade my time in a rather big way.  Alarm bells are going off everywhere!

The family’s summer holiday is close.  I should be back into gear soon after.

Back to Work with a capital ‘W’

This time it’s different, I’ve been telling myself… This time will be different, I’ve been telling my wife.  I just hope I’m right (and I believe I am).  The job I mentioned I had risked by moving to London has materialised, and with the blessing of God I am now back in full-time employment since May 1st.  The previous two months and immediately following my confirmation, I have been busy putting the ground work for what has become my new role in building a new government entity to support and fund SMEs.

Although it will take a huge share of my time, the challenge remains for me to balance my life and make time (and plenty of it) for my PhD work.  The good news is that I am now looking at my methodology, questionnaire design, and tidying up my hypotheses – all of which exciting work and requires serious effort. However, it does not suffer as much as working on the literature review whenever I’m interrupted by work, or anything else.  I can (almost) pick up and continue from I left off.

Summer will be a little slow with work pressure and a family holiday, but the autumn should see a significant drive.  Until then, I must ensure a trickle of effort continues to flow so I don’t have to start again in a couple of months.

Student on Holiday

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.

Resigned (again)

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.