Nine months into my part-time PhD and I’ve finally made it through the seven stages of grief. Shock and disbelief, denial, anger, bargaining, guilt, depression and finally, acceptance.
I now have hope for my PhD. How did I end up overwhelmed with a sense I could never achieve what I wanted? The problem, I was focusing on the end result, not how to get there. Whilst having the final result in my mind of what I wanted to achieve and what things would look like, I had become frustrated that there seemed to be a massive void between what I need to know and what I currently know.
Small steps are the solution
I honesty, I have had a bit of an accelerated transition through the last stages to acceptance and hope and this video from from TED has helped massively:
I have gone from feeling paralysed and overwhelmed with the amount of work I have to do, to realising that the final result will be a collection of micro-steps along the way.
When I was younger, I always found learning new ideas and concepts and easy, I never placed any pressure on myself to know it and for that reason it just seemed to stick. So why had I put this enormous amount of pressure on myself. The reason is simple, my PhD is something I really believe in and something that could really change the way we practise medicine.
However, my PhD is now broken down into smaller and smaller pieces and now my thinking has changed from “how can I achieve this?” to “how can I not?”.
Learn Machine Learning in 3 months
Siraj Raval is a fantastic advocate for machine learning and AI, his enthusiasm is contagious. One of the great things I have taken away from the above process is listening to online content at 2x speed.
The great things about watching tutorials and lectures at a faster speed are two-fold. The first, you are able to consume vast amounts of content in half the time. Secondly, listening at twice the normal speed requires that you focus harder. I am more aware if I miss a concept and my brain is working so hard, that it is not allowed to wander of drift away from what I am trying to force into my brain.
Spreading the love… and the knowledge
The great thing about learning at an accelerated rate is its application to all areas of my PhD. Rather that laboriously trying to learn new concepts and trying to identify if they have taken hold somewhere in my grey matter, I now focus my learning in short bursts of concentration. There is no multi-tasking, it is 100% focus for 10-15 minutes and then break.
The interesting thing is, if you were to see me during the day, you would see me wandering around campus, getting a coffee, having a few minutes rest. From the outside I probably appear less productive, but my understanding of concepts and my actual ‘learning’ is massively improved.
If you found this useful, please let me know…
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