Another 'how much work do you do' thread


I continue to be intrigued by the variety of what people on here seem to think of as a reasonable workload for a PhD. Is it just that there is a massive difference between the disciplines in terms of what's required? I've worried from the beginning that I'm not doing enough, thinking that any day I'm going to realise what I've been missing and I'm going to start these 50 hour weeks and no holidays that people talk about. But 6 months in, and no sign. Everyone seems to think I'm making good progress, I know I do. I think I'm about where I should be. But I don't put that many hours in really, certainly not consistently. I do a lot of teaching, so that takes up time, and I do some web design. This is where I think the discipline may be an issue - I'm not in natural sciences, so I don't spend all day in a lab, most of my time is spent reading at the moment, with a bit of data collection and writing presentations. But I suppose I am thinking about my PhD *a lot*, when I'm doing other things.



I'm rambling. I guess I was just interested in starting a thread for those people who still feel they are doing well, without putting endless hours in. And if you are one of them, is it the case that you too spend a lot of other time thinking about your project? I'd also be interested in the subjects aswell. I'm in the social sciences side of Linguistics.


I get into the office at about 8am each morning and leave at around 4:15pm. I won't pretend that I manage to be productive for all of that time, and sometimes I work at weekends and evenings, thought not as a matter of course. I'm in my second year, and although it's difficult to tell, I think that I'm on track - my supervisors seem to think so too. I'm not really prepared to give up every hour of the day for my PhD, there are more important things in my life, such as spending enough time with my other half.


After a certain minimum I don't think the quality of PhD depends on the hours. Also, unfairly, some projects just need more hours than others. I'm in my final year and I do, at best, the equivalent of 4 working days (working around looking after my daughter etc). I think it can get very intense for short spells before deadlines.


I agree that hours don't have very much to do with actual progress... I often find that if I just put the head down I can do something in 2 hours that might have taken double that time if I hadn't been as focused.

I have been trying to use that as an incentive to motivate myself lately... i.e. write 500 words and as soon as you're done you can go home/go to the gym/whatever. It seems to help! I am probably working less hours but I am getting a lot more done. Like you I am not based in a lab so it is probably easier to be flexible...

Also, yes I do tend to think a lot about my research when I am not specifically working - particularly in the shower how weird is that lol!!! But it definitely helps because you might have new ideas by the time you get back to work...


Hey Rosy - I also do my best thinking in the shower!?


On the 50-hour weeks thing... I know that lots of people will tell you that they are working that amount of hours but I wouldn't be convinced that they are actually *working* all of that time. There are several people in our postgrad area who are there for 12 hours a day, 6 days a week but that's because they spend all their time chatting and going back and forth to the canteen - yet of course they would tell you that they work 60 hours a week.

I know obviously there are times when a lot more hours need to be put in - when you have deadlines and so on - and I'm thinking that the final few months will be permanent 'deadline mode' - but on a long-term basis I think that productivity and hours are not necessarily the same thing.


Oh yay I'm not the only one!!! Why do you think that is??? I've never been able to figure it out...


There are definitley people in my dept whose projects are suspiciously hilarious - a lot of utube I think.

Really, I have had most of my best ideas (which are basically bits of the same idea I guess) in the shower. Maybe they percolate overnight. I often think of them as popping up like toast - only a lot less predicatable.


This is something I worry about too...everyone else in my office seems to stay a lot later than I do. Then I realised that they wern't actually turning up until 10.30 and staying only half an hour later than me. So I stopped worrying about it. I am currently doing 9-5 mon-fri, and am also 6 months in. I spend a lot of time reading and analysing data (all secondary fortunatly) at the momont. I know there will be times when I work the odd weekend and I stay a bit later but I agree that I need time for things other than my PhD.


I feel that each PhD is very individual as is the way people work. I prefer to start early and finish at a reasonable time but other I know just aren't capable of functioning 100% early in the morning, but can work much later than me.

Comparing the amount you work to what others do is ultimately a pointless endeavour and usually results in you feeling inferior about how much you do.

As long as you are happy with your progress you shouldn't really worry


This all sounds quite healthy. Totally agree about those who are 'at work' but not 'working'. No problem with that at all, each to their own, but it can't be seen as x hours a week. These days, with so much other stuff going on (3 young kids, teaching, freelance work etc) when I work, I really do work. Same as you Rosy - a few focussed hours are worth a day to me. In fact, the time when I am most likely to get something done is 10-12 at night, when the house is unusually quiet!

I still maintain that the thinking part is an important element though, as long as you make a note if the ideas when you get out of the shower!


Hi there. I am halfway through my second year of four and not working as much as I think I should be! last year I worked manically to get my MRes and justify my studentship... I was very unsure and so, I think, I got a lot done because I am being put forward for my MPhil to PhD status meeting earlier than everyone else... having said that though I currently work very little! At the mo I think about work CONSTANTLY I really do, but don't get many words down on paper. My colleagues at uni are quite the same, they work in uni all day, but I know from going to to say hi that they have a long old lunch and meet for coffee and suchlike through the day - but they think they work more than me because they are on campus between certain hours. It is all very individual. Glad to hear more people are fairly relaxed at the moment... won't last for long I am sure!


Hi everyone, I think sj04 is right, comparing yourself to others is usually pointless. I recently started worrying that I wasn't doing enough and started a work diary, recording what ive done and what ive read each day. It has been enormously motivating for me because although I have to admit that I only really do 1-3 hours of concentrated reading each day (I'm reading a lot of philosophy thats all new to me)I can look back over the week/month and realise what I've achieved- also it forces me to admit when I'm being lazy as there are blank days in the diary.....Not that that happens a lot of course Anyone else doing anything similar?


I've worked out that I can only study a total of 3-4 hours/day. I simply don't have the attention span to go beyond that! I'm one of those people who thinks that progress cannot be measured by the amount of hours you work. It's quite funny listening to other people in my department subtly trying to work out how much progress they have made by measuring themselves against others.