As a PhD student, your life can quickly become a hot mess. You’ve got classes, Research, TA-ing, and somehow you’re also supposed to find time for a social life. But don’t worry, we’re here to help. Here are some tips on how to organize your life as a PhD student.
Time management for PhD students
One of the most difficult things about being a PhD student is finding a way to juggle all of your responsibilities. You’re expected to conduct groundbreaking research, teach classes, and manage a personal life all at the same time. It can be tough to know where to start, but luckily there are some tried and true time management strategies that can help you get everything done.
One of the most important things you can do is to create a schedule and stick to it. Dedicate certain days of the week to research, teaching, and your personal life and try to stick to that schedule as much as possible. Of course, there will be times when you have to deviate from your schedule, but having a plan will help you stay on track overall.
It’s also important to learn how to say “no” when you’re feeling overwhelmed. You can’t do everything, and it’s okay to need some help from time to time. If you’re offered a project that you know you won’t be able to complete without sacrificing your mental health, it’s better to say no than to try and do too much.
Finally, make sure to take some time for yourself every day. This can be hard when you have so much on your plate, but it’s important to remember that your mental health is just as important as your research or teaching commitments. Dedicate at least 30 minutes each day to doing something that makes you happy, whether that’s reading, going for a walk, or talking with friends or family.
Organizing your research
When you’re working on a PhD, research is your life. It can be easy to get lost in the sea of papers, books, and data that you need to read and analyze. But if you don’t have a system for organizing your research, you’ll never be able to find anything when you need it.
First, make sure you have a good filing system. This can be as simple as labeled folders on your computer, or you may want to use a bibliographic software like Mendeley or Endnote. Whichever system you use, make sure it’s one that you’re comfortable with and that will work for the long term.
Second, keep track of what you’ve read and what you still need to read. Again, this can be as simple as a list on your computer or in a notebook. I like to use Excel for this so I can keep track of not only what I need to read, but also when I need to read it (for example, if it’s for a paper that’s due in three weeks).
Third, take good notes when youread something. This will save you time later when you’re writing papers or preparing for exams. I like to use a combination of highlighting and notes in my margins when I read; that way, I can easily find the information again later.
Organizing your research may seem like a tedious task, but it’s one that will pay off in the long run. By taking the time to set up a good system now, you’ll save yourself hours of frustration later on.
Managing your supervisor relationships
The relationship with your supervisor is one of the most important ones you will have as a PhD student. A good relationship can make your life as a PhD student much easier, while a bad one can make it considerably more difficult. Here are some tips for managing your supervisor relationships:
1. Establish clear expectations from the beginning
Before you start working with your supervisor, sit down with them and establish clear expectations for the working relationship. This should include things like how often you will meet, what kind of feedback you expect, and what the expectations are for completed work. Having these things clear from the start will help to avoid misunderstandings later on.
2. Communicate regularly
Make sure to communicate regularly with your supervisor, even if there is nothing specific to update them on. This will help to keep them up to date on your progress and give them a chance to provide feedback or offer assistance if needed. It is also a good opportunity to let them know if there are any changes in your plans or schedule.
3. Keep track of deadlines and progress
It is important to keep track of deadlines and progress so that you can stay on track and complete your degree in a timely manner. This information can also be helpful in discussions with your supervisor about how things are going. Keeping good records will also be helpful if you ever need to transfer credits or take a leave of absence from your studies.
4. Be proactive about solving problems
If you run into any problems along the way, don’t hesitate to reach out to your supervisor for help. However, it is also important to be proactive about solving problems and seeking advice when needed so that issues don’t become bigger than they need to be. Sometimes, simply raising an issue with your supervisor can help to resolve it before it becomes a major problem.
5. Be professional at all times
Remember that, even though your supervisor is there to help you, they are also professionals who have their own careers and reputations to consider. As such, it is important to be professional at all times when communicating with them or working on projects together. This includes being respectful of their time, meeting deadlines, and maintaining confidentiality if required.
Working effectively in a lab
Working in a lab can be both exciting and challenging. On the one hand, you get to be surrounded by like-minded people who are passionate about their work. On the other hand, it can be easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day details of your research.
Here are a few tips to help you work effectively in a lab:
1. Find a mentor. Your mentor can be a senior colleague, your PI, or even another PhD student. Having someone to look up to will help you feel more comfortable in the lab and give you someone to turn to when you have questions.
2. Be organized. Keep a detailed notebook of your experiments and results. This will not only help you keep track of your work, but it will also be useful for future reference.
3. Be proactive. Don’t wait for things to happen – make them happen! If you see something that needs to be done, take the initiative and do it.
4. Be flexible. Things seldom go exactly as planned in research, so it’s important to be flexible and adaptable. If an experiment doesn’t work out, don’t get discouraged – just try something else.
5. Be patient. Progress in research can be slow, so it’s important to have patience and persevere through setbacks.
Time management for fieldwork
Once you have your materials and supplies, it’s time to start thinking about time management for fieldwork. This is especially important if you will be working with a team, but it can be helpful even if you are working alone.
One way to think about time management for fieldwork is to consider the different types of activities that you will need to do. These can be divided into three categories: research, writing, and everything else.
Research activities include things like collecting data, conducting interviews, and doing experiments. Writing activities include things like drafting chapters and writing journal articles. Everything else includes things like going to conferences, meeting with your advisor, and teaching classes.
It’s important to plan for all three types of activities when you are organizing your time for fieldwork. You should set aside time each day or each week for each type of activity. For example, you might decide to write for two hours every day, do research for four hours every day, and spend the rest of your time on everything else.
Of course, this is just a general guide. The important thing is to make sure that you are spending enough time on each type of activity. If you find that you are falling behind in your research or your writing, then you need to adjust your schedule accordingly.
Time management for fieldwork can be difficult, but it is essential for finishing your PhD in a timely manner.
Writing up your PhD
The process of turning your doctoral research into a book or a series of journal articles is called ‘writing up’. It can be a daunting task, and one that is often underestimated. Many PhD students leave it until the end of their studies to start thinking about how to turn their thesis into a publishable piece of work.
There are some important things to consider when writing up your PhD:
– What kind of book or article do you want to write?
– What is the market for your book or article?
– Who is your potential reader?
– How long should your book or article be?
– What style should you use?
– What structure will work best for your book or article?
Dealing with impostor syndrome
It is not uncommon for PhD students to feel like impostors at some point during their studies. After all, you are undertaking a significant amount of work and responsibility, and it can be easy to feel like you are not up to the task.
There are a few things that you can do to deal with impostor syndrome:
-Acknowledge your feelings: it is normal to feel like an impostor, so acknowledging your feelings can help you to deal with them.
-Talk to someone: talking to someone about how you’re feeling can help you to gain some perspective and may also help you to come up with strategies for dealing with your impostor syndrome.
-Focus on your accomplishments: remind yourself of all the things that you have achieved, both in your academic life and outside of it. This can help you to understand that you are capable of succeeding.
-Seek out support: there are many people who understand what you’re going through and who can provide support and advice. Seek out these people when you’re feeling like an impostor.
Managing your mental health as a PhD student
Graduate school can be an intense and isolating experience. You might feel like you’re the only one struggling with mental health issues, but the reality is that many other graduate students are in the same boat. It’s important to take care of yourself both mentally and physically during your graduate studies, and there are a number of resources available to help you do so.
Here are some tips for managing your mental health as a PhD student:
-Find a support group: There are many online and in-person support groups available for graduate students struggling with mental health issues. Finding a community of people who understand what you’re going through can be very helpful.
-See an advisor: Don’t be afraid to seek advice if you’re struggling. An advisor can provide you with support and guidance as you navigate your way through graduate school.
-Take care of your physical health: Eating well, getting enough exercise, and getting enough sleep are all important for maintaining good mental health. Make sure to schedule time for these activities into your week.
-Find a hobby: Doing something that you enjoy outside of graduate school can help you relax and de-stress. Make sure to make time for your hobbies and interests!