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Where does all the time go?


Feeling bogged down...

...have a break from the norm

It is important to accept that there is never enough time – that time is essentially inelastic – and it may be better to think about using what little time you have rather than lamenting its short supply.

To discover exactly where and how you are spending your time, print off this weekly planner and fill it in over the course of the next week – you might be surprised!


If only days were 50 hours long . . .


A common difficulty reported by doctoral researchers is lack of time. Often researchers feel there are simply not enough hours in the day to devote sufficient time to their research work, let alone to make progress and meet deadlines on their thesis, on top of everything else that places demands on their time. Being a full-time PhD researcher rarely means that you have nothing to do but your doctorate. Most PhD researchers are also busy with different combinations of part-time jobs, family responsibilities, important sporting or social commitments, voluntary work, and the totally legitimate desire to have some downtime in the pub or in front of the telly.

If you ever feel guilty that you are not doing enough work on your doctorate you can at least be reassured that you are in good company. More importantly, in the course of our research no obvious relationship emerged between the amount of time spent directly on doctoral work and the amount of progress made. Some people work on average many fewer hours than others (some in the 20 to 30 hours per week range, others putting in over 70 hours a week).

So if it seems that everyone around you is working much harder than you, don't panic! The chances are they may just have a different working style from you, or that they are better at hiding their time off, or perhaps that they are more easily distracted and work less efficiently.

The key lessons we learned about time issues and doing a doctorate are that doctoral work is rarely undertaken by people with little else to do in their lives, and that no matter how much time you do spend on your thesis, it never feels like it is enough. It is concerning that many people work more than 80 hours in a week and sacrifice family or social time for their thesis.

There are no easy answers; there is no one size fits all time-table that doctoral students should follow. It is recommended that as a doctoral student you document your working habits for a few weeks and try to identify the times at which you are most productive.

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