This post is my homework this week from the How to Survive Your PhD MOOC in which we have been asked to illuminate an area of confusion through a ‘how to’ guide. While one of the things I found most difficult in my PhD was the discussion chapter (which I’ve talked about here), I thought I’d take a more light hearted approach to this task. One reason for that is that this week – in two sleeps! – I’ll be printing my thesis to be sent to the examiners. So I’m feeling all out of words and fairly brain fried.
I’ve previously asked the question: Can you love your PhD? Here I look at whether your PhD can seem like a holiday. So here’s my ‘how to’ for enjoying your PhD as though it’s an island getaway (more than a little tongue in cheek, but not entirely!).
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Step 1: Make sure you’re over committed. This includes parenting, working, having a partner, caring for pets, dealing with life’s surprises. This way, whenever you steal time away to spend time with your PhD, it’ll feel special. Time, just the two of you, feels wonderful when it’s in the eye of a crazy life storm. Ah, special romantic PhD moments!
Step 2: Do your work in lovely places and comfy spaces. While a functional office might be great for productivity, there’s nothing like a gorgeous café for some academic writing or a sunny daybed for some literature reading. Cafés, as well as providing ambience for writing, have the bonus of caffeine and people, making you both energetic in your work and surrounded by fellow humans, a great antidote to feeling as though you’re working alone.
Step 3: Take a writing retreat. Take a LOT of writing retreats. While you don’t have to ‘retreat’ far (these can be close to home), they need to be in slightly unfamiliar places, preferably with great scenery and some outdoorsyness to get amongst when you’re taking breaks from the writing or revising.
Step 4: Choose to research something you’re passionate about, and stay true to yourself in your method and writing. This way you’re following your own research dream and digging into a part of the knowledge landscape that sustains and inspires you. Take off your shoes and curl your toes in the rich earth!
Et voilà! The PhD seems like a holiday, not a torment. 🙂