In the last episode of the year I talk to Sport and Health Sciences PGR Ellie Hassan about work/life balance, time management and - most importantly - taking a break.
Music credit: Happy Boy Theme Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
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Hello and welcome, R, D. And the in betweens, I'm your host, Kelly Preece,
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and every fortnight I talk to a different guest about researches, development and everything in between.
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Hello and welcome to the final episode of R, D amd the In Betweens for 2020.
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And what a year it has been for this last episode as we're going into the winter break or Christmas break.
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I wanted to think about what it's like for PGRs to manage work life balance and how easy or not easy
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in some cases it is to put some time aside at these kind of marker moments in the year and rest.
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So I'm delighted to be joined by Ellie Hassan, one of our PGRs.
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So, Ellie, are you happy to introduce yourself? Yeah. So I'm Ellie I'm a PhD student in health sciences.
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I'm halfway through my PhD now. So two years into a four year programme.
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So two years left. And what we're going to talk about in this episode is taking a break in the broad and loose sense of the term.
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So we're coming up to Christmas at this point in the UK.
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And so. It's it's the time of year where we get all of these emails from senior management.
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I've gotten them to saying, enjoy your break, enjoy your break and your brain goes.
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You must, enjoy your break. My brain's sense ongoing.
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I must enjoy the break, but I must also do all of the thing
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In your experience so far, how do you how have you managed the kind of the not the mandated breaks,
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but the kind of more sort of the fluctuations of time, time and things like Christmas and Easter,
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where the university traditionally has a closed period? Have you approached those as a PhD student?
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Yeah. So I think. So I'm I'm very strict on my holiday time.
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I think especially in comparison to other people.
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One of the reasons that I'm so strict on it and I'm able to approach it the way that I do is when I was doing my undergrad in my master's degree,
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have structured holidays like that. And I also used to work part time.
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So I basically I didn't get weekends or anything like anything any time off.
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So when I came into my Exeter, I was like, right. This is a full time job.
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So I'm going to take weekends off. When there's holidays, there's holidays, and I'm going to try and really make the most of it.
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And it's just really benefit me a lot. I really like being able to switch off.
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And as long as I work properly and we don't mess about stuff and we can scheduling like leisure activities.
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When I really ought to be working. Then I'm like, I'm really happy.
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I feel like I've earned them. So that works really well for me, for sure.
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And what? And I think it shouldn't go unsaid that that kind of treating the PhD as a nine to five.
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Taking your breaks and feeling like you've earned them, it's not a small thing.
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It's a really brave thing to do.
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And I'm always kind of really, really in awe when when people do that, because it isn't an easy thing to do within kind of academic.
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Because, I mean, is it what you see the academics and students around you doing?
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Yeah, I see it mixed. So I'm really lucky. One of my supervisors is is really strict on his time.
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So, I mean, he's got a young family. I mean, he's like, okay, living and working from home and the my.
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So he's very much better friends with family life.
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So he's a really good example. He works pretty much eight hours most days.
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And I would see him coming into the office in the morning and then leaving a set time
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every day like he's he wouldn't necessarily e-mail me out of hours or anything like that.
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How important is that for you having that kind of having a supervisor that is a role model in that way and sets a very clear kind of set,
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very clear boundaries and a very clear expectation?
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Yeah, it's really it's pretty important because it should be like you see a lot of other people doing almost opposite, they're in all the time.
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Like I know other lecturers, other staff aren't like that.
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They'll email all sorts of time. And that's what maybe that's just what their schedule is like,
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that maybe they have a strict schedule, but it's just different hours, which is completely fine.
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But it it kind of sends a message that you have to be you have to be going all the time that this job is like your life.
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And I ideally would like to stay in academia, but I don't want to have to do that.
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So to see someone able to protect their time like that is really comforting and yeah, really nice.
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I don't feel any pressure from him to have to do otherwise.
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So I think that's it's so important that that kind of role modelling of senior academics and supervisors and peers and managers,
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it is such such an important precedent how they manage their time.
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And, you know, I have colleagues that work flexibly because particularly at the moment because of childcare and working from home,
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but also because of health reasons and and, you know, so will be emailing out of hours?
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But I see, you know, they have this wonderful thing on the bottom of their email saying, I work flexibly, I'm out of hours.
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I've got your response out of hours. This is when I'm working. Yeah, I really like that when you pop out at the bottom of the email
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I really do. And. And every once in a while, I see people with wonderful out of offices saying things like.
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I hope you get a break. Merry Christmas. And that means something quite nice about that
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It is. It gives you it does. The thing that does the you know,
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what your supervisor is doing by kind of modelling how to set boundaries is giving you a junior researcher permission to do the same thing.
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So do you you know, you said you see other people around you doing the exact opposite.
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You know, just does the pressure of that creep in sometimes? Does it make you sort of feel like, oh, maybe I should be?
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Yeah, definitely. Especially the nature of the research.
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Some of the research that goes on in sports health sciences means that people have to come in and say no.
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At the moment it's not I don't think it's allowed, but people have to come in on the weekend or in the evening or really,
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really early in the morning to do stuff with like lab samples and things like that.
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And have you get enough time to test their participants. So sometimes it has happened and that's completely fine.
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I don't feel any pressure in regards to that kind thing.
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But, yeah, it's it's quite stressful when you see people doing loads of work and you think, I had a really nice weekend and I didn't
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I didn't look at my laptop once But I'm really I'm I'm quite realistic.
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I think. I mean, I know that I can't work like that. It just ends up really being really counterproductive.
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Like, I just can't function if I do stuff like that.
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So, yeah. So when I feel that pressure frequent, I'm like, well, if I did that, it wouldn't actually help alleviate the whole situation worse.
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So yeah. And that's that's the thing that's really, really difficult because it's counterintuitive.
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We think that the more that we sit at a desk and quote unquote work, you know,
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the more will do and the more productive will be in the back, the better our work will be.
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But actually, for so many people. It it's just the complete opposite and giving yourself permission.
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To take those breaks, yeah, it's really difficult.
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So. When are you stopping for a break? Then over Christmas.
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I remember. Sorry. It's basically like the week. So I haven't, I think, two weeks on Christmas, maybe a little bit more.
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Are you not going to look at your emails? So, yeah. So what I tend to do is just kind of I will check
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I have the phone, but I have the notifications off. So I only checl them when I want to look at them.
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I know pretty much check every every couple days maybe.
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It depends if I'm expecting it to come through. When I had my kind of little holiday this summer, I was in the process of like proofing a paper.
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You know how they did that thing with I like we have to get this back within 24 hours.
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I was checking. I was checking my phone quite a lot to see that had come through
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But then literally I produced the paper. It was fine. And I'm on the back.
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And that was all I did. So, yeah, I'll kind of check my e-mails every every couple days, every few days.
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It looks it depends what's coming in, who I'm expecting to come in, but it's really just to see if there's anything that I want to follow up.
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Sometimes it's it's very rarely stuff that has to be followed up, but it can be kind of helpful.
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You know, you can spend like five minutes, send an email, and then that will save you half an hour in January or whatever.
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So, yeah, maybe I should be a little bit more strict on that, but that's it makes me feel better.
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Keeping a little bit on top of what's going on. I've I've had exactly the same idea of someone's literally sent me the message moments ago that I.
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So I was off for a couple of weeks on sick leave and I was kind of dipping into my emails every few days just to kind of clear the decks.
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Saying you shouldn't have done that. Yeah, but I kind of felt I felt well enough.
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I only did it when I felt well enough to do it. Yeah.
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So the volume of emails sometimes that come through our inboxes, it, it's, it's not always that way,
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you know, but it can be particularly in the autumn twem and at this particular time in the autumn term.
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So I was like, I just want to make sure that when I come back on Monday morning,
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I don't have an inbox with kind of hundreds of emails in it that I have to try and deal with really quickly.
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And I think that that's it's it's not something I would normally do when I'm on annual leave.
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Yeah. Because usually I would take annual leave in non term time.
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So email is lower, but because it was term time, I made a decision to do things differently.
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And I think part of part of this whole process is actually kind of giving yourself permission to do that, too.
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Yeah, it's so so I actually I was on sick leave this year for three months.
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Yeah. Because I ended up getting long COVID but it was a similar thing where there was no obligation for me to do any work.
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But I, I didn't want to not do anything because I felt like I would kind of stagnate.
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Also I would go report and I was an extra and I was by myself for Loba as well.
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So yeah. But yeah, it would have just been pretty boring. So when I felt like I had the kind of capacity that I did something that made
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me it made me feel better that I was still kind of ticking along a little bit.
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But I, I still felt no obligation really. And I ended up writing that paper.
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and getting it published. So it was a pretty good use of my time
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And the idea that made life a lot easier than when I got back off sick leave because there was stuff
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kind of ticked off the list and also other stuff that I'd been mulling over a little bit as well.
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Mulling over time is really helpful. Yeah. And I think that's what we we really undervalue about taking breaks and in a kind of small way,
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you know, during the day, but also these longer kind of periods of holiday or annually.
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Yeah. Actually really gives you time to think and to be really does this and that.
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And so I get it for me. I find it gives me time to think and process.
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Then I'll come up with kind of random little thoughts and I kind of join in my focus for a later date.
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Also, it gives you like a fresh perspective. When you get back to something, you need it.
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Yeah, it's so valuable. The amount of times I've come back slightly after holiday or even weekend, I've been like, what was like,
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this is this is silly for these reasons or like, oh, maybe I can tweak this or make it better this way.
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And I wouldn't if I'd stuck with it the whole time and know how to break it, I would never go that benefit.
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So. So two weeks off over Christmas. Yeah.
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How do you how do you relax? How do you kind of.
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Switch off because, you know.
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We have that mulling over time, which is great and it's really great for those kind of little moments of random thoughts and inspirations hit,
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but also because, you know, what we do is an intellectual pursuit.
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You can really switch off all thinking about your research and certainly about your PhD to allow you to see how how.
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How do you go about that? How do you go about that relaxation switching off?
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Yeah, I guess I I've always been someone who gets bored really easily, so I have to find ways to kind of occupy my brain.
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So if I'm not trying to occupy it with work, it's like reading gaming's quite a good one.
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And like spending time my family as well. Like pestering my sister.
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Or like I will not see this Christmas,
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but like I'll go round my Grandma's for a cup of tea basically getting away from a situation where I've sat at a laptop.
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And that kind of that get that move away from the screen or getting away from the screen has become even more important now that we're all.
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Well, I'm feeling lazy working from home. Yeah. And I think I you know, I talk to a lot of researchers and I'm exactly the same as me.
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I, I cannot sit still. It's just not in my nature.
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And I'm constantly told off because I,
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I can't even watch television and not do something else at the same time playing a game on my phone or like on my switch or just like.
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Because I do craft stuff like crochet or something. My brain doesn't seem to be able to function or cope unless it's doing a couple of things at once.
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And it's been a really difficult kind of learning curve for me to learn.
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I do I do need to do stuff to relax. Yeah, not just.
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You know, I know people who you can just sit. And, you know, I envy them.
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And I do not understand them. Because that's not I need to do something.
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And and more often than not, like you,
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I need to read or game or craft or whatever is because I need something that's going to occupy my brain in whatever way.
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Just to take my mind to stop me thinking about all of the other, you know,
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all of the million things that need that need to be done because it's always more that needs to be done things.
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So I'm I'm a really big fan of lists. Yeah.
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So sometimes like I was usually if I'm I mean, it's not problem to think for research when, you know, actually work.
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It's not really a problem unless you, like, sit, sat obsessing about it.
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It's like not really enjoy yourself. But yeah, I find if I, if I find myself kind of stuck out of thought.
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Or just add it like I just make a list on my phone. I just put this off my phone.
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And I might even go back to the list and update it as I have more thoughts. But I find it really useful because then I know that I can go back.
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I don't have to worry about it now when I get back to.
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Look, even if it is just a weekend. But when I get back from a holiday, I can look back on that list.
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Right. What do I need to address it? Like, came up and I did the same thing.
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I send myself an email. So because I. So I have.
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My I have my email account on my phone, but I don't have my mail synced, so I can't look at it and move on if I want to.
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But I've got the calendar synced, but not my mail. And that has been really good.
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Yeah. That I discovered that a few years ago.
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That's been a really revolutionary thing for me because I can get it on that very quickly when I need it or want it.
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But at the same time, it's it's just the inbox isn't even there. So where to do is if I have a thought or quite often I will you know,
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I'll be scrolling through Twitter in the evening and I'll see something that's relevant
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to work or something that I think I need to reply to that will do something about that.
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I just e-mail myself to my work email with a kind of note saying you need to do this or look at this.
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And I find that helps a lot because it kind of I know that I.
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I jumped out of my brain. Yeah. Log on to my email on Monday morning or whenever is it will be there.
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And that almost gives me permission to forget about it. Yeah, I mean, you forgot about having to get it to the site, so when.
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Yes. Wherever you are, you know, so. Yeah. And I think that's one of the kind of the real benefits of of lists is the ability to put that down.
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But even people who work on a natural kind of list,
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lovers know lots of people that have kind of notes on the phone or notebooks or voice notes or, you know, people do lots of different ways.
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Just get out of the brain.
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And documented somewhere so that they couldn't, you know, get on with the business of relaxation, which is not the easiest thing in the world.
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OK, so what about ways in which you.
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Are there ways in which you connect with and kind of relax with the kind of PhD students, so that particular kind of.
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Ways that interact with each other, that you kind of that you help each other relax.
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I guess I'm not so much, to be honest.
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I've got I've got a few friends who like.
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So I would say the people, the people that I know who are PhD students they kind of broadly fit in to two categories
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So people that I only really would see you interact with when I'm at work.
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Yeah. And then people who I do stuff with at the weekend or in evenings or whatever.
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So yeah, the ones who I would do stuff with kind of outside of work.
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Yeah. Well like me often stuff, but it's not, it's not a deliberate ploy to get them away from their work and holidays or.
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Yeah. I think, I think broadly my kind of closer friends are pretty good, which are most of them have partners and things like that.
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So I think that helps. Yeah.
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I think, you know, not not to in any way suggest that, particularly during this period,
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that kind of having partner in families and responsibilities makes things easier.
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Because I'm not that no. There is an extent to which it forces you to.
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Yeah. In some form of boundary. Because I think you've just got something external to remind you you shouldn't just be working the whole day.
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We can't just work the whole day. You have to go and pick up pick child up from school.
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You know, I mean, those aren't movable things. Yeah.
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In the same way as perhaps kind of having a coffee with someone, whether that be in person,
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socially distanced, virtually whatever it is we're doing at any given time.
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But I think it's I think it's interesting because I hear from a lot of people that, you know, there is a kind of.
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In some ways a demarcation between kind of.
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PhD life and then kind of personal and family life where a lot of people's friends are actually not PhD students.
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Yeah. I think I just want to switch off my friends and.
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I think all of my friends in Exeter are PhD students pretty much. And then my friends from home, a couple of them, actually.
00:20:59,000 --> 00:21:04,000
But most of them just have kind of normal jobs, if you like. Yeah.
00:21:04,000 --> 00:21:10,000
I don't find that really to be a problem. I see. We'll end up talking a lot about for this stuff.
00:21:10,000 --> 00:21:17,000
Yeah. When we're just trying. But not in a way. I like I don't I don't want to fly down.
00:21:17,000 --> 00:21:22,000
I mean, it's not like we're sitting down and having your in-depth supervisory about my work.
00:21:22,000 --> 00:21:26,000
What I've done in the past week, this idea or this piece of data. Exactly.
00:21:26,000 --> 00:21:36,000
And it's sometimes super helpful. Especially when, like those very stresses, it's tough to hear from them how they're doing if they're doing well.
00:21:36,000 --> 00:21:41,000
But it's really nice to see we're happy for them if they're stressed that it's nice because you can both commiserate together.
00:21:41,000 --> 00:21:43,000
I think that's what I was trying to get out to you.
00:21:43,000 --> 00:21:51,000
That senses there's there's a benefit to people that share your experience and that really understand what it's like to be in it.
00:21:51,000 --> 00:21:57,000
And so, like you say, celebrate with you when it's going well and commiserate with you when it's not.
00:21:57,000 --> 00:22:04,000
But then having kind of the people outside of that, you don't necessarily have.
00:22:04,000 --> 00:22:15,000
Experience or understanding of what this journey is like. And, you know, quite frankly, possibly don't want to know.
00:22:15,000 --> 00:22:20,000
I'm reminded of a wonderful moment that my life was staying with my father over Christmas.
00:22:20,000 --> 00:22:25,000
And he picked up a draft of a book chapter that I was working on with my supervisor.
00:22:25,000 --> 00:22:30,000
And he read a sentence of it. And he went. Kelly, I love you, but I've got no idea what you do.
00:22:30,000 --> 00:22:36,000
and he went and I'm okay with that. And I had this moment of
00:22:36,000 --> 00:22:40,000
Yeah, it's it's kind of fine because that it and it works would me.
00:22:40,000 --> 00:22:43,000
Because we don't. There's a usual kind of like always it go it all right.
00:22:43,000 --> 00:22:49,000
Yeah. It's fine. Yeah. But there's no in-depth conversation because.
00:22:49,000 --> 00:22:59,000
Nobody really knows what questions to ask, and they don't really care. I find that I find support those the kind of people not wanting to know quite.
00:22:59,000 --> 00:23:02,000
It can be quite freeing. Guess. Yeah, sure. All right.
00:23:02,000 --> 00:23:09,000
Okay. I can't I can't talk about it because it's not the audience for it, I guess.
00:23:09,000 --> 00:23:16,000
Yeah, I completely I've definitely had that with not so much family members, but like friends,
00:23:16,000 --> 00:23:19,000
family, like neighbours and things like that, they'll be like, oh like how's it going on my.
00:23:19,000 --> 00:23:26,000
Oh yeah. You said you are going to be. Oh. What's that about. And I'm like, I actually don't want to talk about it.
00:23:26,000 --> 00:23:30,000
I it's nice that you asked but also.
00:23:30,000 --> 00:23:39,000
So it's really kind of up there and there's always that I always say like make a joke about the moment that they ask the question for the detail.
00:23:39,000 --> 00:23:46,000
And then if you start giving the I always gave it really quick, like, ah, I regret asking this question.
00:23:46,000 --> 00:23:53,000
Yeah. Because it's complicated and I'm not sure I actually want to know.
00:23:53,000 --> 00:24:03,000
So how I guess. How do you manage all of this being away from.
00:24:03,000 --> 00:24:12,000
Like family. So obviously, like like a lot of people you come to Exeter to do your PhD
00:24:12,000 --> 00:24:16,000
How do you kind of manage all of this stuff and manage relaxing and taking holidays and
00:24:16,000 --> 00:24:20,000
taking breaks with being kind of distant from your family and obviously even more,
00:24:20,000 --> 00:24:24,000
say, in the past few months? Yeah.
00:24:24,000 --> 00:24:31,000
I mean, I've always. So I went. So my family from where my family live in London.
00:24:31,000 --> 00:24:36,000
And I did my undergrad and my masters up in Scotland.
00:24:36,000 --> 00:24:39,000
So I've always been, like, pretty far away from them. Yeah.
00:24:39,000 --> 00:24:45,000
So like anything crazy. But it's not. So you can't just pop back home.
00:24:45,000 --> 00:24:52,000
So I'm pretty used to being out a this is my family not seeing them like loads.
00:24:52,000 --> 00:24:56,000
And yeah, I keep myself just keep myself busy I guess. I talk to them quite a lot.
00:24:56,000 --> 00:25:01,000
Like I text my sister probably anywhere between five and 30 times a day.
00:25:01,000 --> 00:25:08,000
Yeah. So it's it's I don't feel like separate from the from them necessarily.
00:25:08,000 --> 00:25:12,000
And they'll be like, let me get more, text me. But I Oh you know what you up to this weekend kind of thing.
00:25:12,000 --> 00:25:19,000
Yeah. Which is quite nice. I usually have some things to report. I also I play hockey.
00:25:19,000 --> 00:25:22,000
I haven't been recently because of COVID
00:25:22,000 --> 00:25:31,000
But that actually takes up quite a lot of time either in the holidays, like they'll put on extra training sessions and stuff.
00:25:31,000 --> 00:25:35,000
But then at the weekends, it takes up most of my Saturday, to be honest. Yeah.
00:25:35,000 --> 00:25:37,000
Like getting ready, getting to the match,
00:25:37,000 --> 00:25:46,000
having lunch and getting back for the match can take anything from like four to six hours, depending on where I'm playing.
00:25:46,000 --> 00:25:54,000
So, yeah, I guess just keeping busy. I have quite a lot of hobbies, so I don't really I really have trouble filling my time.
00:25:54,000 --> 00:26:03,000
Yeah. And and thinking about actually playing, playing sport and doing something that involves that kind of training.
00:26:03,000 --> 00:26:07,000
How how does that fit in with managing the PhD
00:26:07,000 --> 00:26:12,000
Like what benefits does that really. Well see so I don't play for the uni
00:26:12,000 --> 00:26:20,000
So it's really nice to meet people on. I mean, some of the people that I play with, I like medical students, things like that.
00:26:20,000 --> 00:26:23,000
But for the most part, people aren't affiliated with university.
00:26:23,000 --> 00:26:32,000
So it's like getting to meet other people from the real world, the real world from out on the road.
00:26:32,000 --> 00:26:40,000
It's quite nice. And yeah, because it's kind of a schedule thing that there's definitely been days where, say, we've had training,
00:26:40,000 --> 00:26:48,000
training somebody about seven o'clock or I've had like a late day in the office or I've had to say I felt like, I have to stay late to do something.
00:26:48,000 --> 00:26:55,000
And I'm like, hey, I've got hockey, so I have to stop. I have to put this down and I have to go and play hockey.
00:26:55,000 --> 00:26:59,000
But yet also seeing them, like a lot of them, just have kind of nine to five jobs.
00:26:59,000 --> 00:27:01,000
So seeing them on social media,
00:27:01,000 --> 00:27:08,000
like enjoying their weekends and enjoying their holidays and not even mentioning thinking about work is again, it's quite good.
00:27:08,000 --> 00:27:17,000
Like model. Yeah. To build off. So like I know it is a academia, we can see something very different,
00:27:17,000 --> 00:27:26,000
but really it it should just be a job like it's that's what I'm contracted for, is to receive my stipend for doing like 40 hours a weel
00:27:26,000 --> 00:27:33,000
So I don't see why should they. More than that I should be able to compete in that time.
00:27:33,000 --> 00:27:43,000
Yeah. Yeah. There's, there's that kind of. And if if it's not possible within that time, then the problem is with the system and not with you.
00:27:43,000 --> 00:27:49,000
I think people often, you know, when people are experiencing like impostersyndrome and.
00:27:49,000 --> 00:27:57,000
Stress and that kind of thing, it's very easy to go, oh, well, the problem is me, you know, and feeling the pressure to work all the time.
00:27:57,000 --> 00:27:58,000
That it was tough, whereas actually, you know,
00:27:58,000 --> 00:28:06,000
it's the acknowledgement that we actually work in a system that that kind of pushes that in the way it's structured.
00:28:06,000 --> 00:28:09,000
And that's not to suggest that any individual person or institution does that.
00:28:09,000 --> 00:28:18,000
But but it's it's a systemic thing. Yeah. It's a which is why we say that it's really brave to kind of not do that because
00:28:18,000 --> 00:28:24,000
actually the system is constructed in a way to try and get and get you to.
00:28:24,000 --> 00:28:30,000
And but people always blame it on kind of personal failures, whereas actually, you know, there's external responsibility.
00:28:30,000 --> 00:28:35,000
I think more. So I see quite a lot of.
00:28:35,000 --> 00:28:41,000
I'm quite active on Twitter and I do see people on their say like like I saw some of my other days that they haven't had a holiday for like two years.
00:28:41,000 --> 00:28:46,000
And I was just like, well, I like that's crazy.
00:28:46,000 --> 00:28:50,000
I'm never gonna say that if I. Like I said, I want to stay in academia.
00:28:50,000 --> 00:28:57,000
If if I have to do that, stay in academia or I'm not doing it, that's just silly. You've got to prioritise yourself at some point.
00:28:57,000 --> 00:29:04,000
And I appreciate that. Some people say they're just a lot more that one is not even a dedication thing.
00:29:04,000 --> 00:29:11,000
I think they just have different priorities. But for me, it's it sounds selfish, but it's not a way to stay healthy.
00:29:11,000 --> 00:29:18,000
You just go for it yourself. So I think that that's well, that's what's really encouraging for me in the job that I mean,
00:29:18,000 --> 00:29:24,000
is that so many PGRs now are saying what you're saying, which is I want to stay in academia.
00:29:24,000 --> 00:29:31,000
You know, I want a career in the sector, but also, you know, that kind of culture of overwork.
00:29:31,000 --> 00:29:38,000
And I'm not going to you know, I'm not going to do that. I'm not going to engage in that.
00:29:38,000 --> 00:29:44,000
This is No. Criticism to anybody.
00:29:44,000 --> 00:29:45,000
That is subject to those things,
00:29:45,000 --> 00:29:53,000
because there's a whole kind of complex kind of culture area of audit and metrics and that kind of forces people to say,
00:29:53,000 --> 00:29:55,000
you know, this isn't a criticism of them at all.
00:29:55,000 --> 00:30:01,000
But it's really encouraging to think that there's kind of a new generation of scholars coming up through the system going.
00:30:01,000 --> 00:30:04,000
Well, no, actually, we don't need to buy into that.
00:30:04,000 --> 00:30:14,000
And when you've got academic role models like your supervisor, you are able to to demarcate in that way.
00:30:14,000 --> 00:30:21,000
And I think in a particularly, I know a lot of very successful academics in our institution.
00:30:21,000 --> 00:30:27,000
Whoo hoo! You know, incredibly successful. You do exactly the same as your supervisor does.
00:30:27,000 --> 00:30:37,000
You have very clear boundaries and very clear kind of work life balance. Yeah, it it shows the the rest of the community what is possible.
00:30:37,000 --> 00:30:41,000
And it's not that people that aren't doing that are doing something wrong. I know academics.
00:30:41,000 --> 00:30:48,000
I've got friends who. You know, they they work pretty much constantly, but they do that out of active choice.
00:30:48,000 --> 00:30:50,000
It's interesting that you bring up because yeah,
00:30:50,000 --> 00:30:58,000
I there's definitely so actually the people I lived with in my first year here, he worked every day of the week.
00:30:58,000 --> 00:31:01,000
And I, I also about it once because I just don't understand how you do this.
00:31:01,000 --> 00:31:11,000
I can't I just can't do that for him. He had to work every day of the week or he just he would just lose focus, will get too stressed.
00:31:11,000 --> 00:31:16,000
But he didn't he. He never overworked himself like he would get up.
00:31:16,000 --> 00:31:19,000
he never set an alarm. He would get up whenever he got up
00:31:19,000 --> 00:31:26,000
He would go into uni and he he did quite long days, but they'd be peppered with like meeting friends and stuff like that.
00:31:26,000 --> 00:31:32,000
So, yeah, there isn't one way to do it. And also, even if you don't want to do that, even if you do want to work like twelve hours a day,
00:31:32,000 --> 00:31:37,000
seven days a week, if that's what you want to do and if you can sustain it, I'd be happy.
00:31:37,000 --> 00:31:43,000
That is completely fine. It just doesn't work for me at all. So I just won't take part in anything.
00:31:43,000 --> 00:31:48,000
And I think that that's really important. It's about that sense of individual choice and what and what works for you.
00:31:48,000 --> 00:31:55,000
Yeah, I do. I do think that for the majority of people, that doesn't work.
00:31:55,000 --> 00:32:00,000
But I know, I know and have friends and colleagues for whom it very much does.
00:32:00,000 --> 00:32:05,000
And for him, it's very fulfilling. There's some people who really thrive on that, don't they?
00:32:05,000 --> 00:32:11,000
If they're just really well for them. Yeah. And that's and that's absolutely brilliant.
00:32:11,000 --> 00:32:16,000
But I think that's the thing that we've got to be careful of is we don't make that the.
00:32:16,000 --> 00:32:21,000
When that becomes the exception that we want that to be the exception rather than the rule.
00:32:21,000 --> 00:32:26,000
And I feel at the moment it's the rule. And your supervisor.
00:32:26,000 --> 00:32:34,000
And, you know, that's the exception. And that for me is whether where our culture needs to shift and where I kind of feel,
00:32:34,000 --> 00:32:39,000
you know, I have my moments of feeling kind of really, really encouraged that, you know,
00:32:39,000 --> 00:32:41,000
with with this kind of new generation of scholars coming through,
00:32:41,000 --> 00:32:49,000
that that shift is coming because I'm seeing more and more people put these boundaries in place and talk openly about it.
00:32:49,000 --> 00:32:55,000
That's the other thing. It's not just having those boundaries. It's talking about it and talking about how you manage it.
00:32:55,000 --> 00:32:59,000
Yeah, we need you know, I we're saying earlier, we need those role models.
00:32:59,000 --> 00:33:04,000
And we need those examples of senior people doing that.
00:33:04,000 --> 00:33:14,000
So I guess my next question is, what advice do you have for other paedophiles who say imagining a fictional PGR,
00:33:14,000 --> 00:33:18,000
which will be of a lot of PGRs as I imagine.
00:33:18,000 --> 00:33:28,000
They really, really wants to get to a stage where they're working nine to five, where they're taking their holiday, but they just feel.
00:33:28,000 --> 00:33:35,000
Pressured by, you know, the way other people in that department are working and or overwhelmed by workload.
00:33:35,000 --> 00:33:39,000
What advice would you give them?
00:33:39,000 --> 00:33:49,000
So I think the key thing is organise yourself so that you know that you can get done what you need to get done in that time.
00:33:49,000 --> 00:33:57,000
I, I plan I plan on my weeks out and I'm constantly reviewing where I am and what I need to do things like that.
00:33:57,000 --> 00:34:02,000
So occasionally I do end up working or we can do whatever to get some stuff out of the way.
00:34:02,000 --> 00:34:09,000
So I know that the next week I can get on their feet. I need to get done in the time that I have to do it.
00:34:09,000 --> 00:34:17,000
I think that's really the major pressure. People feel like they can't get everything done if they if they only do it on five or whatever.
00:34:17,000 --> 00:34:23,000
Another thing would be when you're working. You were actually working.
00:34:23,000 --> 00:34:30,000
So I know some people who do they do long hours, but a lot of it is actually quite unproductive,
00:34:30,000 --> 00:34:40,000
which is completely fine if that's how you prefer to work. But for me, my nine to five, it's it's a very productive nine to five at least.
00:34:40,000 --> 00:34:46,000
Definitely the first kind of four hours of the day. I'm I get loads of stuff done.
00:34:46,000 --> 00:34:51,000
I get as much as I can. And then I might be a bit more relaxed. I might have a slightly longer lunch or whatever, but yeah, I,
00:34:51,000 --> 00:34:59,000
I make sure that the time that I am doing my work is I'm really like pick some quality working and.
00:34:59,000 --> 00:35:05,000
Yeah. But that also really helps because then I don't feel bad for taking time off.
00:35:05,000 --> 00:35:11,000
I know that I've done the 40 hours or thirty seven point five or whatever it is in the week,
00:35:11,000 --> 00:35:18,000
and I know that I've done my best at doing that and with being organised, I then know that I'm on track.
00:35:18,000 --> 00:35:22,000
So yeah, I don't I don't feel bad at all for taking time off.
00:35:22,000 --> 00:35:26,000
Also, just be a bit nicer to also look like you deserve.
00:35:26,000 --> 00:35:30,000
If you want to take time off, we need to take time off. You completely deserve it.
00:35:30,000 --> 00:35:34,000
It's it's more like a luxury that you have to earn.
00:35:34,000 --> 00:35:41,000
I know I said I feel like I have to earn my time off, but it's more that's just for me to kind of feel.
00:35:41,000 --> 00:35:49,000
Happy with everything. And really, that's what you want to get to. You won't get to a point where you're just happy with the work you're doing.
00:35:49,000 --> 00:35:58,000
The balance that you have. Thank you so much to Ellie for taking the time to talk to me about how she manages, well,
00:35:58,000 --> 00:36:04,000
life balance and taking breaks and taking holidays and weekends and and all of those sorts of things.
00:36:04,000 --> 00:36:08,000
And for her great advice for other PGRs,
00:36:08,000 --> 00:36:13,000
as you think you can tell from the conversation that I've been thinking a lot about well-being
00:36:13,000 --> 00:36:18,000
and self care and some of the structural issues we have within higher education at the moment.
00:36:18,000 --> 00:36:24,000
And I think it's really important to acknowledge those when we're talking about work life balance and well-being,
00:36:24,000 --> 00:36:28,000
but also to acknowledge the pressures that people have outside work. You know,
00:36:28,000 --> 00:36:36,000
it's not as simple as taking evenings and weekends for people if they are also working or
00:36:36,000 --> 00:36:44,000
are self-funded or part time or have families or partners or caring responsibilities.
00:36:44,000 --> 00:36:51,000
And I think I just want to take a moment to acknowledge that.
00:36:51,000 --> 00:36:57,000
And that's it for 2020. Thank you so much for coming on this journey with me so far.
00:36:57,000 --> 00:37:17,000
And I really look forward to more discussions about researchers development and the in betweens in 2021.
00:37:17,000 --> 00:37:22,000
And that's it for this episode. Don't forget to like, rate and subscribe and join me.
00:37:22,000 --> 00:37:49,175
Next time we'll be talking to somebody else about researches, development and everything in between.
Being a neurodiverse PGR
Dealing with failure
Tales of major corrections
Tales of minor corrections
Researcher Takeover - Talking about Thematic Analysis
All about burn out
Being a Mature PGR
Being an internal (viva) examiner with Professor Michelle Bolduc
Preparing for your (HASS) Viva
Preparing for your (STEMM) Viva
Mentoring and Coaching with Dr. Kay Guccione
Taking a break take 2 - with Dr. Edward Mills
Doing non-traditional research with Lizzie Hobson
Changing supervisors with Maria Dede
Adapting research projects due to COVID-19 with Léna Prouchet
Working with an industry partner with Léna Prouchet
The Supervisory Relationship (from both sides!) with Edward Mills and Tom Hinton
Preparing for your upgrade
The impact of Covid19 on research projects with Ellie Hassan
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