Covid - Has your desire to continue your phd suffered due to working from home? I want to quit


Hi all,

I have just completed my 2nd year of PhD and entering my third and final year and I am looking for a little comradery and support with my current feelings and motivations towards continuing my PhD.

Following national lockdown in March 2020 I began working from home and was able to maintain my ability to work for the first couple of months. But, from July 2020 I found it to become incredibly demotivating, isolating and hard to maintain my interest and desire in the programme. I feel completely removed from my Phd, my mental health is at an all time low and I have battled for months to find enjoyment in my work again. I am now in a position where I feel I no longer have an interest in my work, and it has become an everyday chore to maintain even the lowest outputs. I have inadvertently created a huge amount of anxiety around the work which further makes it a challenge to approach, and with the ongoing covid situation I worry that I will never find the desire to complete my PhD.

My university has finally been able to facilitate some office space for postgraduate students, so I now have some return to a regular working routine. However, I am finding that I am spending my time procrastinating and completing medial tasks whilst the burden of the PhD continues to grow.

Has anyone else found that the lockdown and orders to work form home has completely stifled their ability to work effectively, stay motivated and remain engaged and interested in their PhD?

I am now in a position where I consider quitting every day and I feel if it were not for the financial security of my PhD stipend I may have already moved on. I have had extensive discussion with my supervisor about my concerns with the PhD and my mental health, and he is incredibly supportive and has solidified his desires to keep me in the programme and provide whatever support I require. This is keeping me going for the time being, but I worry that my departure from the writing process has left me with a wall to overcome to engage back with my work again.

I'm feeling really lost. Anyone else?

Avatar for rewt

Hi JayHull,

I can completely understand you! First of all though don't quit unless you have another job lined up. Keeping a stable income regardless on how well you are doing is important. We all have periods were we lose all motivation and so called "second year blues" are real. There are some really good bits of advice out there on how to deal with PhD blues and lack of motivation. It can feel like a mountain sometimes but every little step counts and you should be proud of every little step. I wrote some similar stuff in Adan's post and maybe you can help as well. Personally, at the start of this week I had no motivation on Monday. Though each day I willed myself to do something and regardless of what I did I forced myself to only look at what I did do not what I did. By today (Thursday) I probably did a solid afternoon's work and am actually looking forward to tomorrow. Self reinforcement of every positive action will eventually drown out the negativity. Once you stop beating yourself up about what you didn't you, allows you to focus on actual doing. If you are having trouble starting and only doing the bare minimum, do the parts of the PhD that you used to enjoy and find that passion again. With lockdown it is easy to get into a self depressive routine so doing something that breaks your bad routine is good. If possible talking with other PhD students in some form or another can really boost your motivation as talking with your peers allows you to reconnect with your work. Even if you can work in another part of your house/room, you can do something to break the routine.

Also, if you are having difficulty witting due to sheer scale of it all, I find that it is easier to look at it one paragraph at a time. I write a sub heading and then one paragraph, with no editing what so ever, then try to feel proud of that one paragraph. If you do enough, you eventually trick your brain into releasing serotonin as a reward for every single paragraph and that makes writing big blocks rewarding.