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PhDs, what do you get out of lockdown?

That's it, we're starting to see the end of the tunnel of this strange period. Many people think that it will have a profound impact on the way we work and consume, but also on our social and family relationships... And probably much more!

The way we experienced this period was very dependent on our professional and personal situations. For many of us, it was a real upheaval in the organization of our daily lives. We have adapted and initiated changes to cope with any difficulties.

Churchill said, "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity, an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty. "I invite you to be optimistic! I suggest that you take a closer look at the impact of these changes on your professional and personal life and reflect on what you have learned, whether it be about how to organize yourself, your personal skills and qualities, your needs or your desires for the rest of your career. We will address these themes through a series of posts.

Today, I propose that you take a step back from the way you have organized yourselves. I would like to share with you some of the feedback that doctoral students, PhDs and supervisors have given us during the times of exchanges set up during this period (link to article Webconfinement?). You may find some of them inspiring.

Most of them have reviewed their priorities and the organization of their research work by focusing on the writing of thesis manuscripts, articles, or the meticulous realization of a bibliography. Some appreciated this increased autonomy, which stimulated them and encouraged their creativity. They have gained in confidence and this will enable them to propose new lines of work or defend their points of view with more confidence. Others have discovered tips and tricks to optimize their concentration time, such as the Pomodoro* technique, which consists of sequencing work and break times in a very structured way. These are practices that they can keep for later.

Still others have realized that it is important for them to respect specific time slots and a specific workplace in order to maintain a healthy separation between work and personal life. They are likely to pay attention to this criterion in the organization of their work.

Some found that working alone at home without the usual distractions of laboratory life allowed them to be more productive. Some young doctors even share the view that writing a thesis manuscript is a form of confinement! If this is your case, you can think about how to set up optimal conditions for this writing phase and suggest, for example, that your thesis supervisor work in the library or telework.

For others, telework has been a source of stress conducive to procrastination. It may have been destabilizing and sometimes demotivating to no longer see their colleagues or their thesis supervisor. Some shared that setting up rituals proved to be very helpful (see Sophie link). They have, for example, organised videoconference meetings with other PhD students to share their feelings and concerns. If you also need to be surrounded to be stimulated, you can think about creating a working group with other PhD students or virtual exchanges between peers such as the PHD STUDENTS - @Home discussion platform created by Mathilde Maillard** or joining an association such as Parenthèse*** during the writing phase.

And you, what have you discovered about yourself, about your way of working? What have you set up? What has worked well or less well? What does this lead you to do?

In the next post, we will report on the skills and personal qualities you have developed during this particular period (yes, yes!).

*Pomodoro: The Pomodoro technique is a time management technique developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s. This method is based on the use of a timer (often in the shape of a tomato) to respect periods of 25 minutes called pomodori (which in Italian means "tomatoes"). Wikipedia

The association ParenThèse Ile de France*** has adapted it into a version of 50 min beaches for the editorial days and retreats it organizes.

**PHD STUDENTS - @Home sur Discord: virtual exchange platform created by Mathilde Maillard du podcast "Bien Dans Ma Thèse":

https://discord.com/invite/FYPrgz3

***ParenTèse: A doctoral students' initiative that helps master's and doctoral students from all disciplines to advance in their scientific production. : https://www.facebook.com/parentheseidf/

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