Seeing as though I am currently trying to get into my thesis writing, I thought a post on motivation would be apt!
Right, where do I start….hmm…..well I do believe that staring at a screen for as many hours as possible a day isn’t the best way to stay motivated and get things done. However, buzzing off and finding anything and everything else to do apart from what you need to doesn’t help either, actually I find it makes me feel worse.
So, like many things in life, it’s a fine balance – you do need to spend a lot of time working on your PhD to make it a success. Someone once told me that I’d do 99% of the work needed for my PhD and now I can see what they meant! However, letting it consume your every waking moment isn’t healthy.
So, my key pieces of advice:
-Make sure you eat well, stay hydrated, have some regular exercise and get a good amount of sleep. I find personally that if I am lacking in any one of these areas I lose concentration, don’t get much done despite all the time I spend on something and overall feel a bit rubbish – not helpful!
-Get into a routine. This works for me in many ways. I find that if I allocate time to certain activities, it helps motivate me to do what I can for that particular task in that time frame. If it’s something I don’t particularly like or am not motivated by or I am currently struggling with, I find it sometimes helps to say ‘right, I’ll spend two hours on this and then move on’. Routine also helps you to incorporate times for meals and exercise like I said in my first point. Routine also suites my personality as I like to be organised so it’s a good way of working for me. Routine also means that other people often know where you are, or how to contact you at different times of the day, which is very helpful when you need their help!
-Have some time away from work. I find this easy to say and hard to do! What I tend to do is timetable myself for PhD work from 9-5 Monday-Friday. Then sometimes if I’m very busy, feel like I’m in the right frame of mind for working or need to catch up, I do a little bit of work in the evenings. The weekends I try to leave free to spend time with family and friends and do things like the food shopping and catch up on washing and tidying. So, even if you don’t feel you can take a full holiday, scheduling in free weekends and the odd half day, early finish or long weekend is well worthwhile.
-Speak to other people! It is sometimes easy to forget, but at university, you are surrounded by people in a similar position to you, who might be going through the same feelings and emotions as you. It’s nice to know you are not alone and to have the odd rant or giggle at your ups and downs! Many universities now have facilities, lunches, dinners and events etc that are specifically for postgraduates. So, even if you don’t share an office with postgrads or work away, its always worth having a look at what events are running that you might be able to attend.
-Keep calm. Again, I find this easy to say and sometimes hard to execute! I often have a moment of panic when I’m trying to fall asleep about how long I have left to complete my PhD and all the things I need to get done in that time -aaaarrrgggh! Then, I calm myself down and think ‘I’m only one person, I’m doing what I can, getting all the help I can get and trying my best, so I just need to keep plugging on’. And calm is restored………I find working through things that worry me makes me feel much better!
Well those are my gems of knowledge! I hope they are of some use!