30 Jan 2017

Five PhD Tips

In one of my previous posts I covered my PhD story: how I decided that it's a thing I want to do and how it all went. Today my goal is to share five PhD tips, five (simple) things that I learned the hard way:



* Communication with your supervisor.
There was no problem in communication with my supervisor in general. The problem was with the things that I was communicating. During our meetings I tried to talk about the books and articles I read, chapters I wrote or things that I plan to do, but I avoided talking about my psychological state - stress, anxiety, self-loathing. I considered it to be inappropriate and a sign of a weak person, who can't deal with challenges (and I loved challenges! Or so I thought). But when my bottled up emotions exploded in an emotional breakdown, I had to admit even to my supervisor, that I wasn't able to deal with everything. If I could talk to me in the past, I would tell to be more open and talk with my supervisor about all aspects of my studies, emotions included. 

* Be friends with other PhD students.
Sometimes you might think that what you are experiencing is unique and nobody went through it before. Nope, it's not. If you start communicating more with your colleagues PhD students, you'll see that somebody definitely had been in similar situation before and can give you some sound advice how to deal with it. Competition can wait, because now we all are in this same pot.

* Manage your time responsibly.
It might look like that you can manage to fill your day with various activities and still have some energy left, but that's not true. Well, it can seem like true at first, but if you keep doing that you'll just have a burn-out and then it will be game over. PhD studies are definitely a priority, so you have to list all other things that you do and see what's really worth continuing and what's just consuming time, energy and (sometimes) money. It's hard to let some activities go, but you can pick them up again after you get the degree. As Jane Eyre told asked about her fine accomplishments that could not be used in her work as a teacher, 'I will save them until they're wanted. They will keep.'

* Get some rest
This should be mandatory. There is a difference between hard work and unhealthy obsession. 

* Be honest with yourself
If something's gone awry, admit it and accept it. Nobody is perfect and neither are you. Mistakes will be made and that's the way that you learn things (wow, a real compilation of motivational quotes I got here!). I understood this just at the end of my second year and this simple revelation made lots of things easier for me. I stopped acting as everything was OK, when in reality it wasn't. At first it hurt my pride to admit that there are things that I can't do, but it's a good thing, because now I know my limits and I can choose whether to challenge them or leave as it is. 


Stay (both physically and mentally) healthy!



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