Happy 2017 from all of us at the PGR blog team – may your research be fruitful, your publications plentiful, and your thesis successful! I hope you managed to get some rest during Winter Break and feel ready to take on another PGR year. For me, it has been fabulous to catch up with friends and family back home and I am slowly starting to feel excited about the promise of adventures and possibilities that the new year always brings. Inevitably, this makes me think about an often ridiculed practice: New Year’s Resolutions.
Eating healthy, exercising more, sleeping better – the usual resolutions seem cliche and destined to fail. If you are really motivated to change something about your habits, surely you could get behind them at any time during the year, right? In part, waiting for the New Year to kickstart our personal improvements is due to procrastination and lack of motivation. Still, I always think New Year’s resolutions can be useful for a couple of reasons. First, when you are busy with your PGR and fall into a routine, it is often difficult to spot unhealthy and unproductive behaviours. Taking a break helps you to take a step back and re-evaluate your habits and see what is and is not working for you. Winter Break is a great time to reflect on your past PGR year and celebrate your successess. At the same time, look back critically and decide in what areas you could improve in the coming year. Second, as PGR students we know that it is not always easy to motivate and discipline yourself. Sharing your list of resolutions with friends and colleagues and asking them to keep an eye on you can help in breaking bad habits and keeping on track! You can even introduce some resolutions for your research group.
I’ll share some PGR resolutions from my friends, colleagues, and myself. One that I have often heard is reading more. Everyone knows we need to stay on top of the literature to understand the history and background of our fields, as well as stay on top of current developments. But with all of life’s distractions, finding the time to sit down for a couple hours of focused reading can be hard. We will go over some strategies to read more effectively in a future post. In line with this, another resolution I have heard a lot is working more efficiently. I personally would like to work on this by having a plan ready before starting the new week and new day, to enable me to kickstart my day immediately rather than first having to decide what to do in the morning. We’ll go over lifehacks to become more efficient in the future, too. Another very important resolution many PGRs share is to achieve better work-life balance. It is easy to get sucked into your PGR research, and it always takes me some time away from the lab to realise that there is a world outside of there that deserves attention, too. Physical and mental wellbeing, learning when to say no, when to ask for help, and planning strategies to make this happen are on our list of future blogs as well! Finally, resolutions for research groups I have heard about include improvements concerning the replacement of finished items, tidying up, having more effective meetings, and going for lunchtime walks. Group resolutions are great, as everyone shares responsibility to make them happen (and why not combine them with group rewards to make it more fun?!).
I have high hopes for 2017: publishing my research, writing a review, and figuring out what I want to do professionally in the future are all on the list. Writing them out and admitting to them forces my competitive nature to make sure it happens! For now, I will enjoy a couple more days of holidaying in Prague with my BFF before returning to Glasgow and getting back into the PGR groove. Do you have a list of New Year’s resolutions, and what is your strategy to make them happen? Or would you like some help in realising your goals for 2017? Leave us a note in the comments, via Twitter (@UofG_PGRblog) or the suggestion box and we’ll try to help out in one of our blogs. Happy scientific 2017 at UofG!