I blog about what I can relate to, so this week I’m using my blog as my own form of therapy by writing about how to keep calm and carry on during the latter stages of your PhD. Hopefully I will be able to take my own advice!
With time ticking by and things taking longer than you expect, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and stressed and therefore spend more time procrastinating than working. If this is you, do not fear as you are not alone! I personally hate feeling like I’m not making any progress and even when I’m procrastinating I’m telling myself off about it whilst doing it!
I don’t know how you manage feeling overwhelmed/stressed/worried/anxious, but for me, I try and break down tasks into small manageable ones. Once I have started to make a little progress with these small tasks, I start to feel calmer and more relaxed and this in turn helps me become more productive.
If I start to get a headache or feel tired or unfocused, I switch to completing less mentally taxing tasks like checking e-mails or even just doing a bit of exercise or the food shopping. This way, I still feel like I’m being productive and checking things off my to-do list so I don’t start to feel stressed. The key is to achieve a good balance when prioritising tasks – no good having a clean office/room/house if you feel bad afterwards because you haven’t done any work!
I also try to stay focused by setting myself deadlines that are also rewards. This isn’t always in the traditional sense of having a report or chapter finished by a certain date, but smaller deadlines like planning to go for a meal or to the cinema or to see family/friends. This might seem strange but it helps me stay focused as I think to myself ‘Just two more hours focused on this and then I can take a break’. This means I tend to waste less time faffing around not getting things done. However, sometimes you do need a long unbroken period of time to work, as too many deadlines can end up causing stress rather than relieving it!
All in all, it’s a balance. You can’t work 24/7 and be productive all the time. You need a break and some time to relax and de-stress. Finding the balance is easier said than done I know, but its worth trying to achieve!
Now, enough of my ramblings, it’s back to work!
All the best my fellow PhD’s!