In reply to:

I'm not done with this topic yet.

Spending all day every day either working dedicatedly at one thing, or feeling overwhelmingly guilty about not working dedicatedly at one thing, seemed to make complete sense at the time and had a kind of honour associated with it. But in hindsight it was really stupid and more often than I think I even realised, especially towards the end, I was hellishly miserable.

Don't get me wrong, I loved doing a PhD, and I got a lot out of it. I got travel opportunities, and great friends, and fantastic mentors, and learnt a lot about myself. One thing I always tell people I love about postgrad was the freedom to work under my own steam, on topics that interested me. I could work when I wanted, how I wanted.

In hindsight.. I should have used that freedom to not work all the time.

That makes it sound like I worked all the time. I did not. I spent an awful lot of time not working, but because most of that not-working time I could have been working, I felt terrible about the fact I wasn't working. On and off over the years I tried a schedule - to build in non-work-not-guilty time. Sometimes it worked. And sometimes I'd go off on an adventure (a walk around a new city, or climb a mountain) and tell myself I need a break and it's okay not to work that day. Sometimes it escalated, and I'd spend an entire day watching Star Trek and tell myself it was okay and I needed a break. Then I'd do that a few days or even up to a week in a row, and realise that I could no longer justify this as a mental-health preserving break, and all the good energy-saving would be undone in one fell swoop of crushing guilt. Then I'd watch Star Trek for a bit longer out of misery.

The lesson here is probably something about better time planning.

🏷 phdchat life