Everything should run smoothly again by now, shouldn’t it?
We have a little more space now the Universities have opened up again and with the Coronapas social life becomes a bit easier. It seems a little bit back to normal in many ways. So probably you think you should be completely back on track and without any effort work as many productive hours as possible.
Many PhD students are completely exhausted from the last 1,5 years. They really tried to work, felt guilty if that didn’t work out, were lonely because they missed their friends and relatives, didn’t have a lot of contact with their supervisors and sometimes just didn’t know what to do. To make sure they were productive, they choose to work long days and the distinction between work and play has disappeared. Probably it is still like that.
All this is a recipe for feeling overworked, burnout or complete exhaustion.
What is going on?
First things first. Start with checking yourself. Do you recognize any of the following symptoms?
- You miss mental or emotional clarity
- It is hard for you to focus
- You lost your interest in things, can’t find your passion or enthusiasm
- You lack creativity
- You feel tired, exhausted, unmotivated
- You are not productive basically, you are not really interested anymore.
Do you score quite a lot of positive answers? Chances are big that you are going in the direction of burnout or maybe you are already suffering from it.
The sooner you notice, the better it is, because the milder the symptoms, the quicker they can be solved. Make an appointment with a professional, like your GP. Probably you have to get some good rest and distance yourself from work. It is really important you strengthen your resilience too.
And the thought: ‘I don’t have time to take any rest’ is an important sign that you definitely should have more rest.
Are you just lacking motivation?
I have a couple of techniques that could be of use to you.
Tip 1 Combine fun things with not fun things
Make a deal with yourself that you are only allowed to watch Netflix once you have finished an hour of writing. Or after you have made the next step in your analyses, you can hit the play button of your favourite podcast.
Research shows that making hard things fun to do – by combining not fun things with fun things – will be more effective than telling yourself how important these hard things are.
Tip 2 Make a plan
One of the main reasons why you have problems starting working is because you don’t have a plan.
Research shows that a plan is so beneficial for your success. And if you WOOP it, you will be even more successful.
Tip 3 Go extreme
Apparently, the famous French writer Victor Hugo loved a party. Of course, there is nothing wrong with that. But for him, too many parties were an obstacle to finishing his novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame. So what did he do? He made sure all his clothes were locked away, so he basically couldn’t go out of the house. The best thing to do then was to write…..
I am not sure if this would be an effective means for you, you could also try the trick of the American writer Raymond Chandler.
Tip 4 Let money talk
In case you would lose money, which amount would really upset you if you had lost that. Give that exact same amount of money to a friend and inform him of your goals and deadline. In case you won’t make your deadline, you have lost the money. In case you would like to make it a bit more unpleasant for you, make an agreement with your friend that he will transfer the money to a good cause of your choosing.
Big chance this combination will be your motivator to reach your goals.
And maybe it will work in a different way; after reading all these tips you are thinking: I don’t need any of this, who am I deceiving? I am going to work.
That would be a great result!