All or Nothing

It’s a well-known issue in diet advice that the ‘all or nothing’ approach won’t work – it’s a short-term fix that will eventually backfire. People tackle this in different ways, some build a ‘treat’ into every day, some people save up calories for a cheat day, some people (like the Rock), save themselves for a mega blow-out every few months. It’s all about whatever makes it practical and sustainable for each individual.

I absolutely fail at this. I am 100% all or nothing. This trait has permeated throughout my entire life – I’ve justified it regarding my thesis, I have a really terrible memory so if I step away from it for more than a day, I have to re-read everything in order to get back into the swing; it takes me a while to warm up into writing, so if I only gave myself an hour or so, I’d get nothing done – etc. However, I’ve noticed that it’s taken over other areas of my life – I won’t read a book unless I can finish it in one or two sittings, I won’t watch a programme unless I can binge watch it; I can’t watch random episodes, even if it’s a show I’ve seen before, I have to start at the beginning and see the whole thing through. It’s an issue.

The PhD takes over your life – I’ve joked that if in my viva they ask me to prove it’s all my own work, I’ll just point them at the three years of social media flailings about my thesis. (Personal update – it turns out that if you go outside, eat well and do occasional exercise, the world doesn’t feel as though it’s ending). So, in accepting that the thesis is bound to take over your life, the next step is probably to understand how thesis-related behaviours do the same.ย  I used to be able to watch TV and do homework, I used to be able to listen to music and read a book, I used to watch random bits of telly rather than streaming specific programmes, I used to read a couple of chapters a night. The focused dedication of the PhD seems to have rewired my brain into a new set of habits. Ones that I’m not certain are entirely healthy.

I’ve isolated the issue, so what’s the next step? Forcing myself to watch regular telly? Making myself read novels even if it’ll take me a week or two to finish them? Trying to fit work into random spare hours? I don’t really know yet – if anyone has any suggestions let me know.

In other news, my abstract for Talking Bodies 2017 was accepted – yay! That happens in April. I’m almost halfway through my final chapter – hoping to have it mostly done by Friday. Then it’s just the intro, conclusion and editing. It was my birthday last week, my best mates came up north for four days, we saw Fantastic Beasts, hobbited our way round some excellent ruins, and engaged in an all or nothing approach to cake (emphasis on the ‘all’).ย  After they left I had to crack on with some teaching bits and bobs, and now I’m back to the chapter.


8 thoughts on “All or Nothing

  1. God yes. All or nothing. It really is all or nothing with the PhD. I’m starting to think my brain isn’t normal. AS in, a normal person goes to work, does work things, comes home and has a life. Me on the other hand, obsesses about things for hours on end, finds minute details about a topic, and then I piece together some big picture problem, that no one else cares about. All or nothing. Also, now I have a really bad 90s song All or Nothing stuck in my head. Thanks

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha! I don’t know the song, but I’m sorry.
      I remember I was once astonished that a friend of mine took her PhD stuff on her honeymoon, but now it makes perfect sense.
      I don’t think “normal” ever applies to the PhD or the people that do them, you have to be a special kind of crazy to survive it.


  2. Mate, no. And to the person who commented. It’s a self-perpetuating myth. And I tell you that as someone who thought (secondary school) teaching was her entire life until it wasn’t and I had to work out who I was without it. You’re right about the link between PhD and dieting but I’d argue you’re following the wrong diets: balance, moderation and variety in all things. The person who took their PhD work on honeymoon needs a word with themselves. It’s a work project, not your life.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aye, that’s what I mean – as in, it’s not sustainable.
      It’s definitely something I’m working on – totes started reading a non-PhD book last night. And I actually skimming through one of the lit mags I’m subscribed to with a cuppa this morning.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I think it’s a bit like when you have a baby, your PhD is always there, on your mind whatever you’re doing. I try to balance thinking about my PhD by exercising a lot, and I just took up pottery classes as a way of doing something completely different. Your mental health update made me smile ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

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