Give yourself a break

August.  Somewhat surprisingly, the last few weeks have been hot, like summer is “supposed” to be.  Campus is quiet, eerily so, at times.  Lots of colleagues are taking annual leave, and there aren’t as many e-mails flying round as usual.  The days are long.

For some, this is a time of fewer distractions, and an opportunity to focus on their research.  For others, motivation is low as the hot weather induces lethargy and the beaches/mountains/meadows seem so enticing.  For others still, deadlines loom large and all these external things are irrelevant.  How can you ensure that you make the summer work for you?

  1. Give yourself a break.  When was the last time you took a holiday?  I’ve talked before about the value to the research process of a proper break away.  If it’s been a while since you set your research aside to refresh your energy levels and motivation, it’s time you took some of your allowed leave.  Who knows, when you return, everything might seem that little bit easier?
  2. If you’re taking the opportunity to focus on your research, make sure you don’t let this time slip away.  Nurture your motivation.  You may need to make changes to your physical working environment to ensure comfort (the Main Library has an air handling system, and is very comfortable in hot weather!).  Make use of productivity techniques, such as the Pomodoro Technique or attending Shut Up and Work, to maximise your time.  Find others who will be around over the summer and meet up with them regularly to share your progress and hold each other to account (and maybe to enjoy the sunshine or empty cafes together!).  More ideas.
  3. Maybe you have a conference or thesis deadline coming soon.  In which case, the motivation tips above also apply, but you might like to consider scheduling a break/holiday immediately following your deadline.  Again, there are practical benefits to taking a break after submitting something (it’s essential to review your thesis with “fresh eyes” when preparing for your viva, for example), but this will also give you something to look forward to, beyond the initial relief of meeting a deadline!

How are you finding the summer so far?  Do you find this time of year different from others?  What tips do you have for PGRs at this time of year?

2 thoughts on “Give yourself a break”

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Helen Kara

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