It’s perhaps rather negative to start my blog with ‘procrastination’ but is however appropriate considering that this blog framework and my new website have now been in place for two months and I still haven’t written anything…
I started my PhD in the School of Museum Studies at the University of Leicester at the start of October 2011 and am being supervised by Dr Sandra Dudley (much more to follow on the progress of this journey over the coming months and years). I am also still finishing a freelance contract with Renaissance East Midlands, as Digital Projects Manager 2010-11 (or Digital Access Development Officer as the title changed post-March – not that there’s a difference in role – more musings to follow)… This job continues until early December, and has been an added complication in that I haven’t been able to do as much immersion and reading as I would have liked at the very start of my PhD.
That said, I seem to have thrown myself in at the deep end (although reading and writing don’t seem to make it onto this list yet – I’ve only stuck my toe in at the shallow end) with typical gusto and an over-enthusiastic use of the word ‘yes’. So far, in addition to the reading and writing I am supposed to be doing/prioritising (on sensory experience in museums), I seem to have spent more time doing extra-curricular things…
- first marking MA student ‘practice essays
- leading an MA AMAGS feedback session on their wonderful trip to YSP
- planning an object-based ThinkTank session with Stephanie Bowry on C17th Cabinets of Curiosity (in particular that of Bargrave, at Canterbury Cathedral)
- going on an MA trip to Manchester Art Gallery (oh how strange that will be!)
- leading a session on ‘museum learning’ for Education Option MA students, based on my experience to date (with a bit of theory and a few activities thrown in)
- second marking MA student assessed essays
In addition, I am preparing a Soapbox presentation for this year’s engage conference which I am going to tomorrow in Margate… I’ve also taken on two new professional development/voluntary roles – firstly as the Yorkshire and Humberside Co-Convenor of GEM, and secondly as an AMA Mentor for the Museums Association.
One of my fears of spending the next three years in my ‘ivory tower’, is that I will somehow become ‘de-professionalised’ and lose touch with the real world of practical activity in museums and galleries, especially having worked on such exciting projects in the past at Manchester Art Gallery (2007-10), Museums Sheffield (2005-7) and Kettle’s Yard (2001). Hence I am trying desperately hard from the outset to avoid this…
So it’s not really that I have been procrastinating, more that I haven’t quite worked out how to prioritise and manage my time effectively. And also that I am a bit scared of knowing how much to read, what to read, where to read (future blog on feeling dislocated), when to read – and then of course when to write, how to write and what to write. It’s been a long time, and I am not yet sure what to say or what needs saying. I hope that this will come (back) to me.
To that end, one of the tasks I also need to do is to complete my professional development and training plan for the year: time management will be key. In addition to compiling this list, there are several other things: putting my research profile on the department site (blank at the moment apart from a photo), making sure my own blog/LinkedIn,Twitter/website etc are all talking to each other and updated often, creating some nice business cards which ‘match’ my web presence… A long list but I feel I have made a start by committing it to (virtual) paper.