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Publishing and organizing my self? Any advice is welcome.

Hello everyone!
I am new in here and new to this whole PhD journey...
So, I would like to ask something about it.
First to say, I apologize if my questions will be stupid... I think at our Faculty we don't have really highly developed PhD program, so we all (the PhD students) kind of feel lost at the moment. I have finished my first year (all the exams and all the lectures), and now in the next two years I need to focus on writing my PhD thesis. My mentor gave me a lot of books and it is a bit difficult to focus on all of them, since some of them only marginally touch the topic I'm interested in...

However, one of the questions that I've come up with is this issue of publishing. I don't quite understand the concept of this. I know that I am supposed to write a couple of papers in these two years, but I am not sure what they should be about? I mean, I know that generally I can send a paper about anything to any journal, but the thing is that I am wondering how other PhD students do this? Do you write papers with the topics that are linked to the very research you are doing for your PhD dissertation? Is that then supposed to help you because you are writing bits by bits and coming closer with your ideas to your final goal? Or are you just writing about anything of which you have considerable knowledge and research?
How many papers are you supposed to write? How often do you write?

I know that I am a bit stuck with all these books along with the full time job and I feel like my schedule is so hectic that I can't find time to properly think, let alone read. But I would like to find some pace in all this and it would be actually much easier if I had some way of organizing it all and writing at least small research papers that would help me to stay on track.

So, also, if you have any advice on how to organize my self and keep the rhythm of working on PhD, with the full time job (and normally being tired after work and still having to prepare something to eat and go to sleep at least at 10:30 pm because I get up at 6...), I would definitely highly appreciate it.