Work/Blog Balance

I’ve been doing some rearrangement of my life and working arrangements to reduce the time taken on my PhD to manageable proportions, without driving me crazy. I’ve now got til March 31st to submit the thing, and what I’m also doing is hiring an office in a suburban location where I can move all my books and a laptop and work in air-conditioning (anyone familiar with Brisbane weather in February would understand the difficulties of working from home in the appalling heat and humidity, not to mention living in a unit, neighbours’ love for midday soaps at loud volumes and other neighbours’ passion for Kylie Minogue enhanced by a sub-woofer). I’m also hoping this will have the benefit of making a clean separation between my private time and my work time, and burning cash on office accommodation when I’m not employed will also be a motivator. As a number of doctored bloggers such as The Currency Lad and Tim Dunlop have suggested to me, the key to finishing these things is adopting disciplined habits and finding a good routine where a certain amount of work is done each day, and you can hold the argument in your head for a period of sustained productivity. I must admit my writing style tends to be more of the wait for inspiration to hit variety and then work in furious bursts, but I’m coming to realise this is counter-productive. I also want to acknowledge here how much I appreciate the support and encouragement from everyone in the ‘sphere, and particularly from blogger colleagues such as Chris Sheil, Currency and Tim D who’ve already done the PhD thing successfully.

Intellectually, I’ve also reframed my strategy. I’ve been working on the thesis for a few years now, and two changes of supervisor influenced changes in the topic (both previous supervisors departed QUT in a flash when offered jobs at UQ). I’ve also been doing a very heavy paid workload for the past eight years, with contract work in academia combined with consultancies. I’ve taken the bit between the teeth and decided not to do any paid work at all til the thing’s finished, at some detriment to my finances in the short term. Anyway, the upshot of all this is that I wasn’t getting too far trying to bring coherence to discrete chapters and weave them into the final argument, I’ll be writing new material from scratch then using what’s usable from the old material. Hopefully this will produce a tighter and more polished thesis.

Anyway, the upshot of all this is that I may have more time for blogging than I’d anticipated, but probably not for lengthy interchanges in the comments boxes. What I’m searching for is some sort of balance between my work commitments and my passions. I think I’ve got the plan right so that I can do it. I’ll be taking some time off the thesis over the next few days to attend to some personal matters (and it’s my birthday on Sunday which I’d like to enjoy with family and friends) so the new regime starts next week.

About Mark Bahnisch

Mark Bahnisch is a sociologist and is the founder of this blog. He has an undergraduate degree in history and politics from UQ, and postgraduate qualifications in sociology, industrial relations and political economy from Griffith and QUT. He has recently been awarded his PhD through the Humanities Program at QUT. Mark's full bio is on this page.
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Polly
Polly
2022 years ago

I hope that office has neither telephone or internet access.

C.L.
2022 years ago

Sounds good Mark. I rented a house in a very crappy and noisy location – all I could afford – but the office idea is even better. Bear in mind too that while you absolutely have to do the best job possible by the due date, you will subsequently have ideas, even following submission.

While major re-writes in the examination phase are a no-no, the process does allow for directed improvement of the whole. My point is that examination can be quite a relaxed and creative phase if things go reasonably well so don’t make too much of a bogey out of 31 March.

Francis Xavier Holden
2022 years ago

nah – I’d advise putting it off to the week after at least and I’d suggest turning the office into a secret (air conned) love nest.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

Hmmm. Sounds a bit like the alcoholic who denies he’s got a problem and remains convinced that he could control his drinking if he really wanted to (but of course, he sees no need, so the question doesn’t arise).

Nevertheless, maybe closetting yourself in premises without an Internet connection will help. You might also want to consider avoiding prolonged comment box exchanges by simply closing off commenting on your own posts after a day or so. Quite often it seems to me that the discussion degenerates after around that time anyway, with people drifting off into their own private obsessions and everything relevant having been already said more than once. Of course, that isn’t always so, and leisured blogging conversations sometimes yield gold, but it may be worth trying as a short-term expedient.

Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Polly, no phone and no internet. The latter’s going to be a real help! When I worked full time I never used to look at work stuff at home, and never used to look at the net at work except for work stuff, but removing the net temptation will be all to the good I think!

Cheers, C.L. I do want to get it in as good shape as I can – as I’d like to move on with my life afterwards and not have to spend too much time revisiting it. I’ve thought up the next research project already and I think that’s a good thing as it gives me some sense of “there’s life after the chasm is crossed”.

FXH, well, Valentine’s Day is the day after my birthday after all.

Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Ken, I’d been thinking of that as well. Off now to check out my new digs at beautiful Toowong!

Nabakov
Nabakov
2022 years ago

Good to see you’ve laid off the blogging and commenting as well to focus on the task at hand.

David Tiley
2022 years ago

Mark – no blogging. Eat your brussel sprouts. Nail it and come back with joy in your heart.

And the office is a fabulous idea.

Homer Paxton
Homer Paxton
2022 years ago

Mark, there will be plenty of topics to blog on when you have finished.

So finish.

Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Nabs, David and Homer, we’ll see if the blogging thing is possible in moderation. Giving up the ciggies cold turkey never worked for me…

bargarz
2022 years ago

Good luck Mark.
Hope you’d already got into the office by this week. It stunk.

Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

It sure has, bargarz!

The other thing I’ll note is that working by oneself on a thesis is a very isolating experience and without work social contacts on an ongoing basis, blogging makes me feel connected to the outside world during work hours.

Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

I’ve also recently separated from my partner, and to be honest, I’m finding blogging strangely cathartic in keeping my mind off my emotional woes.

Polly
Polly
2022 years ago

Happy birthday Mark!

Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Thanks, Polly!

James Farrell
James Farrell
2022 years ago

My wife and I always celebrate the anniversary of our engagement, 13 February, and then skip Valentine’s Day. An excellent date all round. I guess it can’t have fallen on a Friday in 1968 or 1994.

Happy birthday, and thanks for all your brillaint work.

Thanks to all the othe TA bloggers, too.

Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Thanks, James.

I think I was born on a Tuesday. I was 13 and 30 on Friday the 13th though.