How many hours a day should a PhD student work?

The logic of this myth seems inescapable and difficult to resist. It seems clear that the more time you spend on something, the more work you get. Mathematically, this seems logical.

The problem is that people are living beings and this variable makes the numbers very complicated. Research has shown that every hour a person over 35 hours a week pays less – you get much less at 45 hours and then at 35 hours. In fact, when you tired, the fact is that you are more If you are. you are prone to make mistakes or miss important topics, your research may get lost when you work long hours.

Structure of PhDs

The structure of PhDs varies greatly, but it is fair to say that working hours are often similar to or longer than a normal job. During my induction at Imperial, I was told that the basic expectation was to work hard enough to do world-class research: no pressure!

I think the easiest way to visualize workload is to show a month of my calendar and give an overview of my schedule. One of the best things about a PhD is the variety, which means that the presentation is balanced, one day or one week would not be particularly representative: so I kept a rough diary for January.

I am currently in my second year and this journal represents month 15 of my PhD. If you just want a summary, feel free to skip the page. Clicking on a calendar each week will open a high-resolution image that may be easier to read. I included my commute to give an idea of ​​how much free time I had. At the time, I was going back and forth for an hour, which has now been cut in half. I’ve covered accommodation in this article: How much does it cost to live in London as a student?

What does a doctoral student’s schedule look like?

If I have three years to write my thesis, what should I do? I had to think about it for a long time because – unlike school and university – I don’t have a fixed schedule anymore! All written work deadlines are agreed between me and my supervisor and have no external schedules whatsoever. This means that managing my time is essential to ensure that I can write my thesis on time and still have time to live a life outside of university. I use a paper journal for this, although some people I know prefer to use the calendars on their phones or laptops. I try to treat my PhD as a flexible job – it needs to be done and I have to spend hours on it!

I try to have a set schedule during the week that is flexible enough to accommodate other things I may have to do during the week. I end up writing lots of to-do lists: books to read and where to find them, and I set aside time for visits to libraries or archives. So I plan my time in advance and don’t forget anything that has a deadline – or I quickly lose track!

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