A progress report of sorts

Image credit: Glenn Carstens-Peters

3 months is that all!?!

At times it seemed impossibly long, a certain familiarity to the tasks at hand and at others it felt like the days and hours were rushing past and there weren't enough of either to get jobs done.

With the dawn of a new year, new decade and a fresh lab and rotational project for the next 12 weeks how's about a moment of reflection before diving headfirst back into the grind.

The Good

I've put myself out there and done my best to present a friendly approachable face. This is, at times, hard for me but I’ve been helped by the friendship support of the other students in my cohort. I'm very lucky to have them around me and I hope I've returned and continued to return the friendship.

On the whole I’ve dominated my ToDo list and time management. This has been at times incredibly easy and at others requiring swift manipulation to avoid losing a sense of control. Easy, because at its core my current methods of productivity simply require sorting tasks by priority and/or efficiency and fitting them into the time I’ve available to me during a day or week and crucially actually doing them when I say I will. Hard, because it's easy to become over stretched by setting too many tasks in a short period of time or worse setting unachievable goals. Of course, there are moments of distraction but recognising them, acknowledging them and asking myself the simple question “is this productive right now?” is sufficient to shift my focus back to the task at hand.

Finally, and depending on your own perspective most importantly, I did a bit of science, came up with a hypotheses, tested said hypotheses with some experiments, discussed the results, wrote it all up and presented it to round out the academic year.

The Bad

Let me start by saying the entitling this post as “Reporting Progress” is a misnomer. To make progress, I’ve realised, demands a start and a vision of a finish line, together these give a direction. And while these three things existed at times in some fashion, I failed to consistently define them. As I wrote a report detailing and discussing the work I’d been doing for the past 12 weeks I found tasks I'd set myself for the days writing dragged on, not through procrastination but, at times, due to a lack of defined end point or goal. I was being hampered by my failure to set a finish line.

A deadline is not a finish line, given 1 hour a task will take 1 hour, given 1 day a task will take 1 day and given a week we are all more than capable of stretching out the smallest of jobs to fill the available time. So, moving forwards, I aspire to set goals to help me measure progress and know when to stop.

The Ugly

At times the past few months have been a bit lonely. This is down to a couple of things. Firstly, the glaringly obvious that I’m quite a bit older than the other students. My priorities and demands on my time are different. Perhaps they don't they don’t perceive this and it's all in my head but it's there regardless.

Adding to this is the unsurprisingly challenge of change; moving from a settled job with established position, routine and colleague relationships to somewhere new where you are on the proverbial bottom rung of the ladder (not that I was ever much higher, but you get what I’m saying…)

Overall, I have a better perspective on how I want to do this PhD thing, time to set some goals for the next stint.

David Wilson
Wellcome Trust Tissue Repair PhD Researcher

My research interests revolve around Biliary Disease and investigating the key cellular, molecular and transcriptional components that drives progression of fibrosis in the liver .