By Marta Antonetti
YOU ARE NOT YOUR WORK: after spending so much time on a project it’s easy to identify yourself with your research -especially when we renounce to a more balanced life because “it’s only three years and all the work I’m doing now will translate in a better job placement afterwards”. However, I believe that drawing a line between "what you do” and “what you are” is the ultimate safety net preventing you from hurting yourself (mentally and physically) if something in your research does not turn out as expected. This advice regards everyone inside and outside of academia, yet, during a DPhil, so many aspects of our research are out of our control (from small things such as the energy we have to finish our assignment to the significance of the results of our dissertation) and we should not allow unforeseeable complications to ruin our mood and happiness.
-TO-DO LISTS ARE NOT A MEASURE OF YOUR WORTH: it is true that in a DPhil learning how to prioritise tasks is important, but what is even more important is to find enjoyment in the things you do. This is particularly relevant because we’re constantly surrounded by articles we didn’t read, talks we didn’t listen to, paper ideas we didn’t write down.
personally, I had days in which I felt like I was missing so many opportunities and that I wasn't doing enough. In those days I've obliged myself to close my laptop and go for a walk in the park, because I know I tend to overbook myself and work on too many projects at the same time. In the long run, this tendency is deleterious for the quality of my life and my work. The world of academia is a world in which we’re constantly pushed to prove ourselves, but results are not obtained through directing our attention to an infinity of different projects but rather through being selective over the activities that worth our commitment.