Preventing burnout with a holiday – 75

PhD Life

Last year I did not have any holiday; I was too focused on my study to think about taking any time off. Last time I spoke of a holiday was because I had not had any and had made the resolution to take more time off in future as to not get burnt out.

I am going away on a family holiday next week to Snowdonia National Park. Unlike last time, I do not feel as if I need, or have earned the break. This is one of the significant problems with preventative strategies – in this case, I am trying to prevent burn-out. The problem is that often it is not until the actual event, getting burned out for example, that you feel as if you need to do something. You’re not addicted until your addicted etcetera.

I shall take some work with me just in case I feel inspired to do some in a moment of downtime, but I doubt that will happen. I am hoping I can fill the week with as much mountain based activities as I can, and even if I do get bored, I always have my kindle.

In a moment of retrospection, this is something that blogging has been useful for, I have noticed that my organisational skills have improved slightly. Because I know I am going to missing a week I have been spending the prior week organising and booking things, so that when I come back, I will hit the ground running.

In the past, I would have wound all my projects up the week before going away and then would have to build back up again when I returned. The result is that there would be several weeks where I was performing sub-optimally. The new, and hopefully not temporary, version of me has managed to plan things so that I should actually be in a net positive in terms of productivity after this break.

Doing a PhD, or any extended period of study for that matter, has its benefits in the non-implicit skills that you develop – organisation and critical thinking are two such examples. In my opinion, this is where most of the value of such a person comes from, and not the specific subject area they are studying.

I now have an answer to the eternal question of ‘what do you want to do, and or, be?’ and that is ‘a life-long learner’.

It has also become clear to me that attempting things that are difficult are usually the most worthwhile as the unintended consequences are often profound. One only has to think of CERN and the attempt to understand the fundamentals of nature which have had profound benefits to humanity – I am thinking of the world wide web here.

The need for better communication between scientists that were trying to understand the universe had inadvertently meant that you are now reading this.

For me, the unintended consequences of doing a PhD have been that I am now a fairly decent programmer, I am a much better writer than I used to be, and I have developed reasonably robust critical thinking skills. The critical thinking skills have been particularly convenient in the Brexit/Trump era.

Published by Louis

Spend less than you earn, Invest the surplus, avoid debt. Eat food, not too much, mostly plants

12 thoughts on “Preventing burnout with a holiday – 75

  1. So true! 😊 I hope I can find my way toward my Ph.D. (after I finish dealing with my family first–they are a nightmare). It would be one of my late father’s wishes for me to be a “Dr. Miller” like him.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Believe me, you never stop learning. (When you do stop, you might as well order your headstone now.)
    Learning about one thing naturally leads on to others (even if you’ve avoided learning about those others for most of your life) but now you have a reason for wanting to know, unlike your school and college days when you haven’t the slightest motivation to learn the things your elders think you should.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My learning is all self-directed at this stage of my life, but it never stops. In the past two months I’ve learned how to use WordPress, Twitter and Canva. In the world outside the net, I’m halfway through my first crocheted blanket and I’ve booked a place at a one-day writers’ seminar at the end of June.
    As far as the need for holidays go, I retired from paid work last year and thought I wouldn’t need my annual winter holiday at the coast, because, well, I wasn’t under any work pressure. I was wrong. Even without time pressures, there is a need in me to get away from familiar surroundings (and climate) and explore new places. So the winter holiday tradition will continue.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Critical thinking skills are a must have; it’s good that you’re finding the PhD program has helped rather than suck the life out of you (a sentiment I’ve heard from others before)!

    Have a wonderful and safe holiday!


  5. I tend to agree with the John Wanamaker quote above. Enjoy your holiday. My PhD is in the remote past but it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done and you need breaks. Burn out is a very real thing wherever one stands professionally and learning self-care comes in handy.


  6. “It has also become clear to me that attempting things that are difficult are usually the most worthwhile as the unintended consequences are often profound.” – that is true. A great read Louis.


  7. When I blog my organisation is on high alert. I think it’s the decluttering in my mind that opens space for organisational thinking. I got a week away soon too so I’m in that same organising pre-vacation mode


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