Our student, Anna Wiedemann, is a PhD student interested in the epidemiology of mental illness and in the evaluation of effective treatments, her supervisor is Professor Peter Jones
I start my day with a visit to the swimming pool across the road. I am not a morning person and never feel up for it at 7.30 am. Once I am in the water, however, I finally wake up and start enjoying what just 20 minutes earlier seemed like a cruel plan. Going to the pool still feels slightly weird with all the additional safety measures in place but I am embracing the change of scenery after all the “stay-at-home” messages over the last year.
I am back home around 9 am and take my time with breakfast just to realise that I am late for my research group meeting which totally slipped my mind. I join 15 minutes late, but it seems like everything is going smoothly, and my lateness is more or less unnoticed, at least that is what I want to believe. We finish our zoom call at 11 am and I am glad that this was my only zoom call for the day.
I settle down at my desk with a cup of tea to start the bit of the day I enjoy most – concentrated and undisrupted work time. Most of my days are divided into one-hour chunks of work. I am using a hexagon rotating timer; this may sound a bit weird, but it is very useful. I purchased this lovely thing during my masters when I really struggled writing the last bits of my thesis. I rotated it a few edges telling myself “it is just 30 min of concentrated work” and often I just kept going.
I close outlook and put my phone out of sight, I then start my first 60-minute rotation around 11.30 am and delve right into PowerPoint slides that need polishing for an important presentation tomorrow. Once the first chunk is over, I turn around, stretch (which I often forget), and talk to my lovely partner who sits just right behind me working on his massive screen and typing code at a pace I cannot even talk. We chat and talk about our lunch options.
We decide to go to the shops as this will get us some well-needed sunshine (we live in the basement). Out and about we enjoy the nice new flowers in the street and get some falafel and antipasti from the M&S store around the corner and we eat it in the park.
Back at home, and after an hour lunch break, I settle back into my uncomfortable seat (a new chair is on its way) and rotate the timer to the right again for another chunk of work. This time I look at some code to remind myself of some analyses I have done over the last months which now need to be written up into a coherent paper. The timer lights up, but this time I just rotate it once more, ignoring the public health advice of getting up every so often, and I keep working (although less effectively this time).
It is 4.30 pm and I finally get up and have another break – this time in the living room with my favourite piece of furniture, the piano. Over the past months, I challenged myself by trying to play all sorts of Schubert Lieder and sing along. Not easy. I hope that our neighbours will not complain about my lack of skill. I used to study music/singing (but then moved into science) and always had amazing pianists accompanying me. This has not happened for over a year and my music diary is empty, and I miss Schubert.
I go back to my desk and settle for my last chunk of work. I go through my talk for tomorrow. Of course, it is too long. I have to start again, cutting things out and practice it once more, and once more, and once more. Around 6.30 pm I call it a day. I cancelled a virtual workout session with my friend, I am just too tired. Instead, I go back to the piano for some more playing to ease my mind. This time I try some jazz impro – it is a little better than my Schubert attempts.
You can listen here:
I am tired, but we cook some nice pork-sage pasta, and I spent an hour or so reading a weird AI-love-romance I recently picked up in the bookshop. I stop and fall asleep pretty much immediately.