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 (
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License


Podcast transcript


00:00:09,000 --> 00:00:15,000
Hello and welcome, R, D. And the in betweens, I'm your host, Kelly Preece,

00:00:15,000 --> 00:00:32,000
and every fortnight I talk to a different guest about researches, development and everything in between.

00:00:32,000 --> 00:00:38,000
Hello and welcome to the final episode of R, D amd the In Betweens for 2020.

00:00:38,000 --> 00:00:46,000
And what a year it has been for this last episode as we're going into the winter break or Christmas break.

00:00:46,000 --> 00:00:53,000
I wanted to think about what it's like for PGRs to manage work life balance and how easy or not easy

00:00:53,000 --> 00:01:03,000
in some cases it is to put some time aside at these kind of marker moments in the year and rest.

00:01:03,000 --> 00:01:07,000
So I'm delighted to be joined by Ellie Hassan, one of our PGRs.

00:01:07,000 --> 00:01:15,000
So, Ellie, are you happy to introduce yourself? Yeah. So I'm Ellie I'm a PhD student in health sciences.

00:01:15,000 --> 00:01:21,000
I'm halfway through my PhD now. So two years into a four year programme.

00:01:21,000 --> 00:01:34,000
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.

00:01:34,000 --> 00:01:38,000
So we're coming up to Christmas at this point in the UK.

00:01:38,000 --> 00:01:43,000
And so. It's it's the time of year where we get all of these emails from senior management.

00:01:43,000 --> 00:01:48,000
I've gotten them to saying, enjoy your break, enjoy your break and your brain goes.

00:01:48,000 --> 00:01:53,000
You must, enjoy your break. My brain's sense ongoing.

00:01:53,000 --> 00:01:59,000
I must enjoy the break, but I must also do all of the thing

00:01:59,000 --> 00:02:07,000
In your experience so far, how do you how have you managed the kind of the not the mandated breaks,

00:02:07,000 --> 00:02:14,000
but the kind of more sort of the fluctuations of time, time and things like Christmas and Easter,

00:02:14,000 --> 00:02:20,000
where the university traditionally has a closed period? Have you approached those as a PhD student?

00:02:20,000 --> 00:02:28,000
Yeah. So I think. So I'm I'm very strict on my holiday time.

00:02:28,000 --> 00:02:31,000
I think especially in comparison to other people.

00:02:31,000 --> 00:02:41,000
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,

00:02:41,000 --> 00:02:46,000
have structured holidays like that. And I also used to work part time.

00:02:46,000 --> 00:02:50,000
So I basically I didn't get weekends or anything like anything any time off.

00:02:50,000 --> 00:02:55,000
So when I came into my Exeter, I was like, right. This is a full time job.

00:02:55,000 --> 00:03:01,000
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.

00:03:01,000 --> 00:03:06,000
And it's just really benefit me a lot. I really like being able to switch off.

00:03:06,000 --> 00:03:14,000
And as long as I work properly and we don't mess about stuff and we can scheduling like leisure activities.

00:03:14,000 --> 00:03:22,000
When I really ought to be working. Then I'm like, I'm really happy.

00:03:22,000 --> 00:03:28,000
I feel like I've earned them. So that works really well for me, for sure.

00:03:28,000 --> 00:03:35,000
And what? And I think it shouldn't go unsaid that that kind of treating the PhD as a nine to five.

00:03:35,000 --> 00:03:40,000
Taking your breaks and feeling like you've earned them, it's not a small thing.

00:03:40,000 --> 00:03:42,000
It's a really brave thing to do.

00:03:42,000 --> 00:03:53,000
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.

00:03:53,000 --> 00:03:58,000
Because, I mean, is it what you see the academics and students around you doing?

00:03:58,000 --> 00:04:06,000
Yeah, I see it mixed. So I'm really lucky. One of my supervisors is is really strict on his time.

00:04:06,000 --> 00:04:13,000
So, I mean, he's got a young family. I mean, he's like, okay, living and working from home and the my.

00:04:13,000 --> 00:04:18,000
So he's very much better friends with family life.

00:04:18,000 --> 00:04:24,000
So he's a really good example. He works pretty much eight hours most days.

00:04:24,000 --> 00:04:28,000
And I would see him coming into the office in the morning and then leaving a set time

00:04:28,000 --> 00:04:34,000
every day like he's he wouldn't necessarily e-mail me out of hours or anything like that.

00:04:34,000 --> 00:04:42,000
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,

00:04:42,000 --> 00:04:45,000
very clear boundaries and a very clear expectation?

00:04:45,000 --> 00:04:54,000
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.

00:04:54,000 --> 00:04:59,000
Like I know other lecturers, other staff aren't like that.

00:04:59,000 --> 00:05:02,000
They'll email all sorts of time. And that's what maybe that's just what their schedule is like,

00:05:02,000 --> 00:05:06,000
that maybe they have a strict schedule, but it's just different hours, which is completely fine.

00:05:06,000 --> 00:05:13,000
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.

00:05:13,000 --> 00:05:16,000
And I ideally would like to stay in academia, but I don't want to have to do that.

00:05:16,000 --> 00:05:24,000
So to see someone able to protect their time like that is really comforting and yeah, really nice.

00:05:24,000 --> 00:05:28,000
I don't feel any pressure from him to have to do otherwise.

00:05:28,000 --> 00:05:38,000
So I think that's it's so important that that kind of role modelling of senior academics and supervisors and peers and managers,

00:05:38,000 --> 00:05:44,000
it is such such an important precedent how they manage their time.

00:05:44,000 --> 00:05:50,000
And, you know, I have colleagues that work flexibly because particularly at the moment because of childcare and working from home,

00:05:50,000 --> 00:05:55,000
but also because of health reasons and and, you know, so will be emailing out of hours?

00:05:55,000 --> 00:06:00,000
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.

00:06:00,000 --> 00:06:07,000
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

00:06:07,000 --> 00:06:15,000
I really do. And. And every once in a while, I see people with wonderful out of offices saying things like.

00:06:15,000 --> 00:06:19,000
I hope you get a break. Merry Christmas. And that means something quite nice about that

00:06:19,000 --> 00:06:23,000
It is. It gives you it does. The thing that does the you know,

00:06:23,000 --> 00:06:32,000
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.

00:06:32,000 --> 00:06:35,000
So do you you know, you said you see other people around you doing the exact opposite.

00:06:35,000 --> 00:06:41,000
You know, just does the pressure of that creep in sometimes? Does it make you sort of feel like, oh, maybe I should be?

00:06:41,000 --> 00:06:46,000
Yeah, definitely. Especially the nature of the research.

00:06:46,000 --> 00:06:50,000
Some of the research that goes on in sports health sciences means that people have to come in and say no.

00:06:50,000 --> 00:06:56,000
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,

00:06:56,000 --> 00:07:01,000
really early in the morning to do stuff with like lab samples and things like that.

00:07:01,000 --> 00:07:09,000
And have you get enough time to test their participants. So sometimes it has happened and that's completely fine.

00:07:09,000 --> 00:07:12,000
I don't feel any pressure in regards to that kind thing.

00:07:12,000 --> 00:07:22,000
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

00:07:22,000 --> 00:07:27,000
I didn't look at my laptop once But I'm really I'm I'm quite realistic.

00:07:27,000 --> 00:07:33,000
I think. I mean, I know that I can't work like that. It just ends up really being really counterproductive.

00:07:33,000 --> 00:07:37,000
Like, I just can't function if I do stuff like that.

00:07:37,000 --> 00:07:45,000
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.

00:07:45,000 --> 00:07:51,000
So yeah. And that's that's the thing that's really, really difficult because it's counterintuitive.

00:07:51,000 --> 00:07:57,000
We think that the more that we sit at a desk and quote unquote work, you know,

00:07:57,000 --> 00:08:01,000
the more will do and the more productive will be in the back, the better our work will be.

00:08:01,000 --> 00:08:11,000
But actually, for so many people. It it's just the complete opposite and giving yourself permission.

00:08:11,000 --> 00:08:17,000
To take those breaks, yeah, it's really difficult.

00:08:17,000 --> 00:08:22,000
So. When are you stopping for a break? Then over Christmas.

00:08:22,000 --> 00:08:28,000
I remember. Sorry. It's basically like the week. So I haven't, I think, two weeks on Christmas, maybe a little bit more.

00:08:28,000 --> 00:08:34,000
Are you not going to look at your emails? So, yeah. So what I tend to do is just kind of I will check

00:08:34,000 --> 00:08:40,000
I have the phone, but I have the notifications off. So I only checl them when I want to look at them.

00:08:40,000 --> 00:08:45,000
I know pretty much check every every couple days maybe.

00:08:45,000 --> 00:08:55,000
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.

00:08:55,000 --> 00:09:00,000
You know how they did that thing with I like we have to get this back within 24 hours.

00:09:00,000 --> 00:09:04,000
I was checking. I was checking my phone quite a lot to see that had come through

00:09:04,000 --> 00:09:07,000
But then literally I produced the paper. It was fine. And I'm on the back.

00:09:07,000 --> 00:09:13,000
And that was all I did. So, yeah, I'll kind of check my e-mails every every couple days, every few days.

00:09:13,000 --> 00:09:22,000
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.

00:09:22,000 --> 00:09:27,000
Sometimes it's it's very rarely stuff that has to be followed up, but it can be kind of helpful.

00:09:27,000 --> 00:09:35,000
You know, you can spend like five minutes, send an email, and then that will save you half an hour in January or whatever.

00:09:35,000 --> 00:09:40,000
So, yeah, maybe I should be a little bit more strict on that, but that's it makes me feel better.

00:09:40,000 --> 00:09:50,000
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.

00:09:50,000 --> 00:09:59,000
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.

00:09:59,000 --> 00:10:04,000
Saying you shouldn't have done that. Yeah, but I kind of felt I felt well enough.

00:10:04,000 --> 00:10:07,000
I only did it when I felt well enough to do it. Yeah.

00:10:07,000 --> 00:10:16,000
So the volume of emails sometimes that come through our inboxes, it, it's, it's not always that way,

00:10:16,000 --> 00:10:20,000
you know, but it can be particularly in the autumn twem and at this particular time in the autumn term.

00:10:20,000 --> 00:10:24,000
So I was like, I just want to make sure that when I come back on Monday morning,

00:10:24,000 --> 00:10:33,000
I don't have an inbox with kind of hundreds of emails in it that I have to try and deal with really quickly.

00:10:33,000 --> 00:10:39,000
And I think that that's it's it's not something I would normally do when I'm on annual leave.

00:10:39,000 --> 00:10:44,000
Yeah. Because usually I would take annual leave in non term time.

00:10:44,000 --> 00:10:49,000
So email is lower, but because it was term time, I made a decision to do things differently.

00:10:49,000 --> 00:10:55,000
And I think part of part of this whole process is actually kind of giving yourself permission to do that, too.

00:10:55,000 --> 00:11:01,000
Yeah, it's so so I actually I was on sick leave this year for three months.

00:11:01,000 --> 00:11:09,000
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.

00:11:09,000 --> 00:11:15,000
But I, I didn't want to not do anything because I felt like I would kind of stagnate.

00:11:15,000 --> 00:11:19,000
Also I would go report and I was an extra and I was by myself for Loba as well.

00:11:19,000 --> 00:11:26,000
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

00:11:26,000 --> 00:11:29,000
me it made me feel better that I was still kind of ticking along a little bit.

00:11:29,000 --> 00:11:35,000
But I, I still felt no obligation really. And I ended up writing that paper.

00:11:35,000 --> 00:11:38,000
and getting it published. So it was a pretty good use of my time

00:11:38,000 --> 00:11:46,000
And the idea that made life a lot easier than when I got back off sick leave because there was stuff

00:11:46,000 --> 00:11:51,000
kind of ticked off the list and also other stuff that I'd been mulling over a little bit as well.

00:11:51,000 --> 00:12:01,000
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,

00:12:01,000 --> 00:12:07,000
you know, during the day, but also these longer kind of periods of holiday or annually.

00:12:07,000 --> 00:12:13,000
Yeah. Actually really gives you time to think and to be really does this and that.

00:12:13,000 --> 00:12:16,000
And so I get it for me. I find it gives me time to think and process.

00:12:16,000 --> 00:12:23,000
Then I'll come up with kind of random little thoughts and I kind of join in my focus for a later date.

00:12:23,000 --> 00:12:28,000
Also, it gives you like a fresh perspective. When you get back to something, you need it.

00:12:28,000 --> 00:12:35,000
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,

00:12:35,000 --> 00:12:42,000
this is this is silly for these reasons or like, oh, maybe I can tweak this or make it better this way.

00:12:42,000 --> 00:12:47,000
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.

00:12:47,000 --> 00:12:53,000
So. So two weeks off over Christmas. Yeah.

00:12:53,000 --> 00:12:58,000
How do you how do you relax? How do you kind of.

00:12:58,000 --> 00:13:03,000
Switch off because, you know.

00:13:03,000 --> 00:13:09,000
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,

00:13:09,000 --> 00:13:14,000
but also because, you know, what we do is an intellectual pursuit.

00:13:14,000 --> 00:13:22,000
You can really switch off all thinking about your research and certainly about your PhD to allow you to see how how.

00:13:22,000 --> 00:13:26,000
How do you go about that? How do you go about that relaxation switching off?

00:13:26,000 --> 00:13:33,000
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.

00:13:33,000 --> 00:13:41,000
So if I'm not trying to occupy it with work, it's like reading gaming's quite a good one.

00:13:41,000 --> 00:13:48,000
And like spending time my family as well. Like pestering my sister.

00:13:48,000 --> 00:13:51,000
Or like I will not see this Christmas,

00:13:51,000 --> 00:14:00,000
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.

00:14:00,000 --> 00:14:10,000
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.

00:14:10,000 --> 00:14:18,000
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.

00:14:18,000 --> 00:14:23,000
I, I cannot sit still. It's just not in my nature.

00:14:23,000 --> 00:14:26,000
And I'm constantly told off because I,

00:14:26,000 --> 00:14:35,000
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.

00:14:35,000 --> 00:14:45,000
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.

00:14:45,000 --> 00:14:49,000
And it's been a really difficult kind of learning curve for me to learn.

00:14:49,000 --> 00:14:54,000
I do I do need to do stuff to relax. Yeah, not just.

00:14:54,000 --> 00:15:03,000
You know, I know people who you can just sit. And, you know, I envy them.

00:15:03,000 --> 00:15:09,000
And I do not understand them. Because that's not I need to do something.

00:15:09,000 --> 00:15:11,000
And and more often than not, like you,

00:15:11,000 --> 00:15:20,000
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.

00:15:20,000 --> 00:15:26,000
Just to take my mind to stop me thinking about all of the other, you know,

00:15:26,000 --> 00:15:32,000
all of the million things that need that need to be done because it's always more that needs to be done things.

00:15:32,000 --> 00:15:35,000
So I'm I'm a really big fan of lists. Yeah.

00:15:35,000 --> 00:15:41,000
So sometimes like I was usually if I'm I mean, it's not problem to think for research when, you know, actually work.

00:15:41,000 --> 00:15:46,000
It's not really a problem unless you, like, sit, sat obsessing about it.

00:15:46,000 --> 00:15:53,000
It's like not really enjoy yourself. But yeah, I find if I, if I find myself kind of stuck out of thought.

00:15:53,000 --> 00:15:58,000
Or just add it like I just make a list on my phone. I just put this off my phone.

00:15:58,000 --> 00:16:05,000
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.

00:16:05,000 --> 00:16:10,000
I don't have to worry about it now when I get back to.

00:16:10,000 --> 00:16:14,000
Look, even if it is just a weekend. But when I get back from a holiday, I can look back on that list.

00:16:14,000 --> 00:16:20,000
Right. What do I need to address it? Like, came up and I did the same thing.

00:16:20,000 --> 00:16:25,000
I send myself an email. So because I. So I have.

00:16:25,000 --> 00:16:34,000
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.

00:16:34,000 --> 00:16:39,000
But I've got the calendar synced, but not my mail. And that has been really good.

00:16:39,000 --> 00:16:41,000
Yeah. That I discovered that a few years ago.

00:16:41,000 --> 00:16:49,000
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.

00:16:49,000 --> 00:16:57,000
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,

00:16:57,000 --> 00:17:01,000
I'll be scrolling through Twitter in the evening and I'll see something that's relevant

00:17:01,000 --> 00:17:04,000
to work or something that I think I need to reply to that will do something about that.

00:17:04,000 --> 00:17:11,000
I just e-mail myself to my work email with a kind of note saying you need to do this or look at this.

00:17:11,000 --> 00:17:16,000
And I find that helps a lot because it kind of I know that I.

00:17:16,000 --> 00:17:26,000
I jumped out of my brain. Yeah. Log on to my email on Monday morning or whenever is it will be there.

00:17:26,000 --> 00:17:33,000
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.

00:17:33,000 --> 00:17:43,000
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.

00:17:43,000 --> 00:17:47,000
But even people who work on a natural kind of list,

00:17:47,000 --> 00:17:56,000
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.

00:17:56,000 --> 00:18:00,000
Just get out of the brain.

00:18:00,000 --> 00:18:16,000
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.

00:18:16,000 --> 00:18:21,000
OK, so what about ways in which you.

00:18:21,000 --> 00:18:31,000
Are there ways in which you connect with and kind of relax with the kind of PhD students, so that particular kind of.

00:18:31,000 --> 00:18:37,000
Ways that interact with each other, that you kind of that you help each other relax.

00:18:37,000 --> 00:18:42,000
I guess I'm not so much, to be honest.

00:18:42,000 --> 00:18:47,000
I've got I've got a few friends who like.

00:18:47,000 --> 00:18:55,000
So I would say the people, the people that I know who are PhD students they kind of broadly fit in to two categories

00:18:55,000 --> 00:19:00,000
So people that I only really would see you interact with when I'm at work.

00:19:00,000 --> 00:19:06,000
Yeah. And then people who I do stuff with at the weekend or in evenings or whatever.

00:19:06,000 --> 00:19:11,000
So yeah, the ones who I would do stuff with kind of outside of work.

00:19:11,000 --> 00:19:21,000
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.

00:19:21,000 --> 00:19:31,000
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.

00:19:31,000 --> 00:19:35,000
So I think that helps. Yeah.

00:19:35,000 --> 00:19:43,000
I think, you know, not not to in any way suggest that, particularly during this period,

00:19:43,000 --> 00:19:48,000
that kind of having partner in families and responsibilities makes things easier.

00:19:48,000 --> 00:19:54,000
Because I'm not that no. There is an extent to which it forces you to.

00:19:54,000 --> 00:20:06,000
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.

00:20:06,000 --> 00:20:10,000
We can't just work the whole day. You have to go and pick up pick child up from school.

00:20:10,000 --> 00:20:14,000
You know, I mean, those aren't movable things. Yeah.

00:20:14,000 --> 00:20:20,000
In the same way as perhaps kind of having a coffee with someone, whether that be in person,

00:20:20,000 --> 00:20:26,000
socially distanced, virtually whatever it is we're doing at any given time.

00:20:26,000 --> 00:20:32,000
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.

00:20:32,000 --> 00:20:36,000
In some ways a demarcation between kind of.

00:20:36,000 --> 00:20:46,000
PhD life and then kind of personal and family life where a lot of people's friends are actually not PhD students.

00:20:46,000 --> 00:20:50,000
Yeah. I think I just want to switch off my friends and.

00:20:50,000 --> 00:20:59,000
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.




Share | Download
Podbean App

Play this podcast on Podbean App