Has anyone just done... nothing?


I was wondering if there was anyone else in the same situation as me, my EPSRC funding ran out in October, I wrote (and was skint) for a few months, then started a job in January, bought a house, am doing the house up....and have done absolutely no thesis since the house stuff started. I really want to get rid of it! I'm uninspired to write anything, I get no support or interest from my supervisors and I haven't got any spare time. How on Earth can I motivate myself?!! It doesn't help that I commute for an hour each way to the job.

Is anyone else juggling a full time job and PhD?


I have just started my PhD - I work full time at another university with a 2 1/2 - 3 hour round trip commute (by car so can't even read on the bus/train) each day (can do it in an hour each way but only at 2 in the morning) and I have two youngish (11&9) children and a (very understanding but occasionally understandably grumpy) husband. 

It is hard - REALLY hard - I find deadlines are the biggest motivator (but self imposed ones don't really work for me). Not sure what the answer is but spare time is a thing of the past - in my case the house is a mess (I am ashamed to answer the door to surprised visitors) and going out is a thing of the past.  Just keep in there - if you had funding you must be nearing the home straight now?


I've had periods of many months where I've done nothing at all. In my case it's due to serious ill health. Even in better patches I only have at most 5 hours total a week for the PhD, in 1 hour bursts. That would typically mean snatching odd hours at weekends, or odd hours in the evening. Nothing more substantial than that.

I found the only motivation that worked for me came from myself, combined with the terror of not completing before my absolute submission deadline. That was the end of March 2010. Every time I had to pick myself up again I'd make a list of things to be getting on with - a huge list, ranging from the big things down to the smaller more trivial things. Then I'd start picking things of the list, starting with the easiest things first. And that would get me in the swing, and build momentum.

And completing my PhD was still really important to me, and that's what got me through to submitting last month. My viva is next week. Wibble.


Quote From BilboBaggins:

I've had periods of many months where I've done nothing at all. In my case it's due to serious ill health. Even in better patches I only have at most 5 hours total a week for the PhD, in 1 hour bursts. That would typically mean snatching odd hours at weekends, or odd hours in the evening

Congratulations on your submission, that is fantastic.

Sorry if this comes across as a rude/cheeky question. I was just wondering how many years it took you to submit? The reason I am wondering is I had a bit of time out too and keep wondering whether I am going to be doing this forever given time off and my slack hours at other times! If you don't want to reply no worries.

Raginwitch I relate to what you wrote. I like my supervisors but find they are around less now i'm getting closer to the end and less available to help. Great news you got a job though. Just try to keep your eye on the prize and think of how great it will feel to have the thesis out of your life!


Quote From slowmo:

Sorry if this comes across as a rude/cheeky question. I was just wondering how many years it took you to submit?

I'm a part-time student, and I used the full 6 years allowed by my university. Given I was averaging just 5 hours a week on the PhD I felt that was pretty good going, compared with full-timers putting in full working weeks over a 3-4 year period.

I was funded as well, but not for the last writing-up year. Actually the funding council would have let me take 7 years to submit, but the university deadline in my case for part-timers was 6.


Thanks for replying!

Sorry for the nosy question. That is really good that you finished within the time.

I am full time but seriously have not been working full time hours. I probably should have switched to part time whiel I was having problems but they are funny about international students going part time here when funded. Quite rubbish. Anyway I better not de-rail this thread, thanks for replying!



I think I am getting to the same stage as you. My funding runs out at the end of April and at the moment I am working part-time but spending a lot of time trying to get a full-time job, so I've not done much on the thesis for a while. I've just moved house as well and find I never have time to work on the PhD. I don't know how I will do it when/if I get a full-time job. I'm part time so have another two years before I have to submit but I don't want it to drag on and feel that I'm getting to the stage where other things in my life are going to take priority.
Sorry that doesn't help your situation but I can empathise.


Thanks BilboBaggins. I found your experience inspiring, showing how, despite adverse circumstances, if you keep making steady progress, even if only a little bit at a time you will get through to the end. Good luck with the viva! :-)


Hello Ragingwitch, I'm not trying to balance a full time job with my PhD - not yet at least. However, I haven't done anything on my PhD for a while now - a few weeks so far. I'm too busy with stupid conference presentations, having to review a paper I don't really understand and teaching. I'm finding that longer I spend away from actually doing my PhD work, the more inclined I am to not actually bother with it and the less motivated I feel. I've also invested too much of my time catching up with friends and trying to normal stuff, like have a laugh. I'll be having to get a full time job in a few month's time, so I'll let everyone know then whether I manage to actually juggle it or not.


I am doing a part time PhD and working FT. I am based in Greece, so I don't have regulart contact with my sups (we meet every three months).
I have to stick to strict schedules, which I make every week. I also have a very supporting family and very supporting friends, who understand what I am doing and how important it is for me. Also, they know that I must do othre things besides working and studying, so the drag me out once a week... I think it is important to balance things and have a programme with weekly targets...
Difficult, I know. But you should sit every day for a minimum time (let's say 5 minutes) and do something. You will see that you will want to go on, that you will not want to get off the chair!
Good luck!


Me. I have been writing up since August and have managed two full chapters. I'm a total slacker. I have 3 good days and then 2 bad weeks. My thesis just makes me want to cry :-(
I don't have a job, or the confidence to apply for one. I have had all the time in the world to write for the past few months, but I'm just wasting it all on the internet or watching daytime TV... :-s


I am quite a new postgrad student, started in october 2009. I have a family with two young girls (10 and 13) and a part time job. I absolutely love my PhD project, but I am really struggling with the combination of everything. If I have a busy weekend I can't work much during the week because I get really depressed and exhausted. I feel terribly guilty. Take this week. We had a lovely offer from our neighbours to spend Saturday night in a luxury hotel with spa, swimming pool, gym, etc. To achieve this I had to make so many preparations (take the dog to a friend 45 mins away and pick him up again on Sunday, work friday evening, do shopping, have two hours of student teaching, etc.) that the hotel experience made me even more exhausted rather than relaxed. I haven't worked much on Monday, yesterday I spent most of the day in bed and even today I am still not motivated. Perhaps it's because I haven't worked full time (my PhD is full time) for 14 years, since my eldest was born and I have always been suffering from depression on and off and I need some time to get adjusted? I don't know, but this has happened twice this month, how am I supposed to get this PhD done on time? I feel so guilty because I am supposed to work at least 7 1/2 hours a day and I am not making that a lot of the time. Also, the school holidays are a nightmare. I only get 8 weeks a year, but my girls have 13 weeks. The weeks that I am not off are filled with guilt if I leave them at home for a few hours, guillt because I can't spend enough time on my PhD, trying to find friends they can stay with, or play schemes (which they often don't like). We thought about having an au pair again, like we had when I did my undergraduate degree, but at the moment we just cannot afford it as my husband's work (he works for himself) has been dodgy because of the recession. I really want to do this PhD, perhaps I just have to accept what I am at the moment and do and give what I can? Guilt, guilt, guilt!


Thanks everyone for their replies.

Claudia, I wrote like you have for a while; I found myself watching a lot of daytime telly and faffing about! Then again, I've been at uni non-stop for 7 years and worked every holiday, so maybe I needed the rest!

I'm hoping that when my house is done I'll be able to knuckle down to it; luckily I have no children/pets to worry about, and my husband is very supportive and he has helped me with some of my programming stuff (I write in a mark-up language called LaTeX rather than Word) when I've been ready to smash my laptop because it won't compile!

I haven't done the sort of PhD that would let me write as I went along either, which might have helped. My history PhD friend has done 3/4 of his because he publishes his chapters as he goes along, but I did Physics and you can't do that!


Hi there!

Just thought I'd drop a reply, as I totally empathise with you. I have a lot going on in personal life, so it is really affecting my ability to focus on my research. The hardest thing is, though, the exhaustion! Literally, I used to be able to work day after day after day, but now, I do a whole day and I am so exhausted, I need a whole week off. Maybe it's just the last few years catching up on me!

But like you I am also juggling a job too. Anyway, I guess i'm trying to say, I empathise, keep going, we will get there!


Quote From strugglingtoo:

Guilt, guilt, guilt!

Aww :( I assume you're getting treated for your depression at the moment - if not then you might need something just to take the edge off everything you're feeling here.

I finished my undergraduate degree with the Open University while also working full time and with a young daughter - she was 8 when I graduated. I COMPLETELY understand the guilty feelings you've got, and wow, they were awful. It doesn't matter what you're doing, you feel like you should be doing the other, right?

My advice to you is to take a bit of a step back and realise you can only do the best you can on any given day. Would there be any way to "schedule" your week a little bit more, so that you have, for example, Sunday as a family day for quality time, Saturday for errands, a night during the week just for you to spend time on *you* - no PhD, no kids, no housework. I think this is extremely important when you have so much on and it might seem counterintuitive, but it will let you rejuvenate yourself. Alternatively a morning at the weekend where you can go out yourself and have coffee and switch off. Maybe another weeknight where you catch up on some PhD work, stay late at uni, wherever you do the PhD work.

It might not be enough for you, but I found that knowing X day was with my husband and daughter, Y day was a day for working like a crazed beaver and cramming 24 hours into 10, Z evening was me-time...it helped a bit.