As you probably know, I run my own company. I love having my own business and I am very happy to be able to have one. It gives me the opportunity to do what I love most: help PhD students to finish their thesis successfully and in time. Unfortunately I see too many PhD students struggle whilst knowing that a few minor chances can alter the world for them!

So for that cause I am investing my time, helping PhD students by giving training courses, work shops, presentations and individual coaching. And of course on top of that I manage the business side of the company: administration, marketing, networking. I am writing a book at the moment for PhD students. And I keep on top by taking training courses for a permanent follow up of the developments and to increase my knowledge to make sure I am a good coach!

All in all great fun, but: busy, busy, busy….. Of course within limits – I am a great supporter of not working in the evenings and weekends and to make sure to have free time now and then – but still. I squeeze a lot in my working days.

Till last year, 29th of November to be precise. I had scheduled a training for the afternoon and suddenly that morning, my back froze. A violent cramp shot through my back and literary I couldn’t move anymore.

Luckily it only took a couple of days of complete immobility, after that I could move about with crutches and hopping to chairs placed in strategic places in the house. After a while that wasn’t necessary anymore.

However, my back is still not OK. I am still in pain and my back is very stiff. It costs me a lot of energy and I really had to slow down my pace. Simply because my body tells me that I need to change course.

My motto was always to work efficiently and effectively, making sure I had time left for unexpected matters, taking time to recharge, having a daily walk and more of these considerations.

All the specifications that are dealt with in the course Getting on Track. I am forced now to reconsider a few matters. Because the more I am trying to achieve, the longer it will take to heal my back. And I am told it will take quite a long time.

busy, busy, busy and suddenly

So it is very important to reconsider: what is important to me, how do I plan my day?

This is what helps me:

  • I decide how to plan my time, instead of reacting to outside influences. I make sure to schedule time for mails, telephone calls and more of these tasks.
  • I determine the order of completing tasks. Preferably I work in the morning on tasks that demand my creativity and lots of thinking.
  • I begin with the most important project.
  • I make sure I group tasks so I don’t need to switch all the time.
  • I focus completely on what I am doing. If I plan an hour for a specific project, I will do my utmost for a whole hour instead of thinking about the other 1000 things I need to do.

At the moment I don’t have the time or energy left for certain other things, so I stopped doing them.

I do take the time for alternatives, like walking a lot, which is great for my back.

The important lesson is that you have to make decisions based on what you think is important. I love supporting PhD students, give them the suggestions for the right direction so they will succeed with their PhD. I want to ensure that universities will think differently about the support of their PhD students. I try to give time and attention to the people that are important to me and besides that my aim is to feel physically, mentally and emotionally as healthy as possible. These are the goals I have in mind when making the choices for the day.

It became clear to me that making the choice how to spend my time and achieve progress effectively doesn’t have to do anything to do with how much time I have, but how I spend it. And if I spend my time with things that I deem important, I will feel at my best.

How do you spend your time? Are you making the right choices? What do you need to make sure you will make the right choices?


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