The six months prior to November of last year was just a whirlwind of activity for me. Aside from the final push for finishing my thesis on time, last minute experiments, and a conference proceedings/presentation, I had tenure track interviews involving international flights and adjusting to a newborn at home. I defended in December, finalized my negotiations for a tenure track (yay!) and took a few weeks off. When school started up after the winter recess, I was in a total motivation funk. My background on my laptop is a “To Do List” with papers that I need to finish and submit to journals, as well as prep work for NSF proposals and basically a bunch of stuff I didn’t want to do.
This lull persisted for about two weeks before I had to train a new PhD student in the group. And I don’t know if it was getting my hands dirty or if it was working on something other than thesis project/writing for the first time in a while, but that was the jolt to get me out of that funk.
As an experimentalist, I like nothing better than building stuff and setting up experiments to prove or disprove ;-) stuff. Working with a new PhD student in an area where they have no experience is certainly good prep for the next step. And aside from things progressing nicely in the lab and teaching a potentially good student, I’ve managed to check off one of those papers that I had to write.
I’ll definitely have to remember this for next time; I’ll probably get “the funk” after a rough semester. But if you find yourself standing in front of a wall and you know you can climb but you really don’t want to, just walk around it and see what you find. On your travels, you might come across a trampoline and might be motivated enough to drag that back to your wall to make things easier.