Well, that's the holidays over. Christmas and New Year came and went in a very civilised manner (for which read "it was quiet and I drank some very nice wine"), all the decorations are down, and I am now turning my attention to the job in hand, and the challenges that next term has for me.
As I said before Christmas, I handed in the draft of chapter to the Supervisor at the end of last term, and I am now waiting for the comments. I was quietly pleased with the final result, although I dread somewhat the feedback that I'm going to get.
I also have to have my progress on the PhD reviewed by the Director of Research in the Law School, together with a review of how I intend to proceed on the next stage of the thesis. I think that this is a really good idea - the Law School has suffered in the past from students who have taken years (in excess of five) to complete their theses, and a formal review helps you to focus your attention on why it is that we're actually at university. It's all too easy to forget sometimes - to spend too much time in the gym or chatting to friends, or indulging the freedom to go into Unitown, or to spend too much time on the internet reading blogs or Facebook.
This term is going to be hellish. I know that. I have to teach two undergraduate modules (and more pressingly mark the essays), and this is totally my choice, I can blame nobody else for that. I love teaching and the experience will be good for my CV, so I think that the positives outweigh the negatives.
I also have to make sure that I don't lose concentration on my research. I've got more empirical stuff to do, and I think that I'm going to have to be slightly more pragmatic and focus on stuff that can be done at my desk and over the internet rather than plan to rootle round in the British Library, National Archives or other gorgeous archival resources.
I must also make time to go to the gym (Christmas has had a very bad effect on my waistline), and I do three hours a week working for a local voluntary organisation. Plus, my family needs some of my time. Oh. And housework, I suppose.
Everything else has to go. I cannot risk getting sidetracked with this workload - if I falter then I will land on my intellectual face, so I've made some hard decisions. I have cancelled my Facebook account, and I have no plans to have a social life between now and the Easter vacation. Although, in truth, as my social life hasn't been exactly 'wild' for the past twenty years or so, it won't be that much of a sacrifice. If I'm not at my desk in the office, or at my computer at home, or reading in support of my research, I'll be in the gym. Or sleeping. That's pretty much it.
It might seem extreme, but I don't believe that it is. I made the decision that I want to get my PhD, and I must focus until this part of the job is done. I'll get my work/life balance back in about twelve weeks or so.
Wish me luck. I think I'm going to need it.