ThesisLife: 4 weeks down, 8 weeks to go

August already?! How? Just how!?

But that means I have been out of the lab and writing full time for 4 weeks already, but it also means that I am handing in my PhD thesis next month! Okay – I hadn’t thought about it like that until I just typed that and now I’m stressing a little!

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So how has it all been going? Honestly? A bit of a mixed bag! After the last few crazy and manic months in the lab I was so excited to be done with it and start wrapping up this whole PhD journey. So I thought it would be a good idea to share with you all a little bit of an insight into what I’ve been up to, what I’ve learnt and hopefully shed a little bit of light on #thesislife for those with me in this journey and also those who might be joining soon.

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Let’s start with the good!

I absolutely LOVE writing! It has been great to actually have time to sit down and realise all that I have managed to do in the last 3 and a half years of PhD research. And the best bit that I love doing is piecing all my data together into the bigger picture and pondering on how it fits in with what we already know and what it could mean for the future.

I am also thoroughly enjoying being able to write from home – especially with the weather we have been having the last month or so – although I must say the heat is a bit of a distraction but its such a mood booster. The flexibility of fitting a writing block around a short Netflix binge – guilty! – and anything else I want to do is really refreshing.

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I also think thesis life is having a good effect on my health too. It’s not life-changing by any means – I’m still at baby steps at the moment. But being at home, probably in combination with the weather, means I have started drinking 10x the amount of water I was before when I was in the lab. Now just to get the exercise and nutrition back on track too.

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Okay – so what about the bad?

There are still a number of things I’m struggling with at the moment.

Procrastination. Productivity. Task management. Routine. And Motivation.

I was hoping that by the time I had been writing for 4 whole weeks already that I would be into the routine I wanted. I’m not the most productive person in the mornings and I never will be. But I was hoping that my mornings would involve some progress before I could head off to the gym for an hour or so. Head back and jump in the shower and grab some lunch before settling down for writing block number two. Before another short break and then a final writing block in the early evening. But that just hasn’t been the case for many different reasons but something I need to work on soon to up my productivity.

Talking of which, I feel that a few weeks ago I was trundling along quite nicely. I have been trying to keep on top of my thesis as I’ve been in the lab so I wasn’t starting with a blank page a month ago which would also help me with the fact that I needed to show my supervisor a draft of my whole thesis within 8 weeks as they are going away in September. This worked out quite nicely as my thesis has 8 chapters, so the aim was to send off a chapter a week to keep on target. This started off well but now I’m slipping a little and I need to work out why. One of the reasons is because I don’t have that routine and discipline to keep writing, another is that I am the queen of procrastination and another is because having sat within the same 4 walls for 4 weeks writing I think I starting to go a little stir crazy. Just going for a short walk to the shop on Monday completely cleared my mind and helped a little so I think I need to get out the house a little bit more and I think I might try the coffee shop life – because everyone is productive in coffee shops right?

But there is a major thing that is constantly bugging me at the back of my mind and the thing that I am finding the hardest about thesis life. The fact that I need to get a job ASAP for financial reasons. We all know how long a job application can take if you do it properly, but at the moment to stay on track with my thesis deadlines I can’t really afford to take the time to do all these job applications. Combining job applications and thesis writing with all the other things I need to do like resubmitting my manuscript and all the other things I want to do like blogging and scicomm, I am constantly feeling snowed under. Plus, I have this overwhelming feeling of guilt and panic whenever I am making progress on one thing and not the others. When I’m writing my thesis, I’m feeling guilty that I am not applying for jobs. Or when I’m applying for jobs I am feeling guilty that I haven’t resubmitted that paper. It’s a vicious circle for me at the moment that I need to find a solution to quickly.

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Time for a clean slate!

But there is no use in getting hung up on all the negatives but instead work out how I am going to overcome them.

Monday is a new beginning! And I think its time I tried switching up my writing location so I ready to hit the library and some great coffee shops in the city that are perfect ‘for the ‘gram!’ haha with minimal distractions – certainly no Netflix!Β Who knows, if there is a perfect cheap deal for flights I am definitely up for a writing retreat getaway!I also need to force myself then to slowly start upping my exercise again. Not only will it help me get healthier and fitter again but exercise has proven benefits also for your focus and productivity. As for task management, I am going to allocate one day a week to applying for jobs. That way I should stop worrying about it as I will do it plus if I don’t need the whole day to apply for jobs then I can make progress on something else or just get back to the trusty thesis!

Of course, I miss being in the lab and generating new results, discovering more and creating more questions to answer. But I’ve realised that it is this part of research that I love. Working out what it all means. This is where I get excited and this is what I am loving right now!

So with my thesis at 439 pages and 89,691 words strong, I have two completely finished chapters, one chapter completed for first draft and the other five half way towards a completed draft. So, overall not too shabby! But I want to make sure that I don’t let that slip now.

Right, I need to stop procrastinating again by blogging and get back to my thesis! Just remember if you are writing anything right now that ‘Any progress is progress’ & ‘Don’t beat yourself up for not writing anything today’.

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Are you writing your thesis or have you just finished? What are you/did you find hardest? Do you have any top tips for surviving the thesis life?

Science love.

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8 thoughts on “ThesisLife: 4 weeks down, 8 weeks to go

  1. 439 pages – woah! That’s incredible! Does your University have a word/page limit for the thesis? Thanks for your words of advice at the end their too, I didn’t get as much writing done as I’d planned this week and was beating myself up a bit! Also changing up your writing location a bit definitely helps, I hope it works for you too! πŸ™‚

    1. I know! Think Im going to have to plant a few trees to make up for all the paper I will use printing this monster! And I havent even finished it yet πŸ™ˆ I dont think there is a limit but I should probably double check actually :/ yeah its some great advice I got from others so had to share it. Even just writing a sentence means youre a sentence closer to finishing πŸ™‚

  2. Woah! You’ve written so much- Well done! How do you know what to write/ how to write it? (sorry if that’s a silly question!) Good Luck for the next weeks: just an idea, but if the weather holds up, you could work outside!

    1. Thank you. Ive worked my butt off the last 3.5 years so its great to see it all in one place and together. No such thing as a silly question. Apologies if you know any of this but…. any scientific form of writing whether it is a manuscript or a PhD thesis or anything in between are structured on an intro, methods, results and discussion sections. So obviously I need to write up all my results and methods and then introduce all the background info from the literature to justify why you are asking the research question and so the reader knows about everything you are going to talk about. The discussion is kinda just a place for your thoughts about what all your results mean and backing that up. The whole scientific writing style I learnt at uni and it gets better with practice. Is that what you meant? Thank you. Im going to start writing in different locations definitely with less distractions. Maybe not just outside though. Not my scene. Thank you though πŸ™‚

      1. Ah thank you for the clarification! That sounds really interesting! Thank you! Good luck on finding a place to write!

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