How many hours a week?


I'm new to the Phd, into my second month now and its going well so far, but I wanted to ask how many hours/days a week do you work?
During my MA I was pretty much working 7 days a week and promised myself that I'd pace it better for the doctorate and have some time off - I'm guessing that in regular jobs people don't work 7 days a week (at least I didn't when I was working)! So how much work is 'normal' and acceptable, and what is the best way to pace yourself? I can't work 9-5 as such, I have children and have to do school runs, and when my youngest is home working is pretty much impossible, so I have say 9.30-3 during the week when I can work without distraction and then I tend to work in the evenings too - but I've worked everyday this week, and am planning on doing more this afternoon and wondering if I'm overdoing it - I just seem to think that I HAVE to work as much as I can every day and I'm not sure that its the way to go for this level of study. I work from home so don't have the commute to uni to take into consideration. It was the norm last year and in the final year of the BA for me to work 7 days and I missed so much in terms of family life and promised myself that I would work at a more relaxed pace this time but I don't want to under-do it or to slack.
Any advice would be hugely appreciated.


Hi Stressed!
Im also new to the Phd life (having just started in October) and am pretty much wondering the same thing about others having just started. Im working from home and commuting into uni (1hr 30mins away by train) 2 days a week. The other days in the week im trying to keep to a 9-5 schedule just to keep me motivated. The weekends are my own. Im sure this will change slightly as the workload increases but thats how i stand at the moment.
The best piece of advice i was recently given after discussing this with a friend was - 'its your phd. If you find yourself doing 2 hours and week and then the rest of the time shopping then youre on the wrong path. Give yourself a day off now and again otherwise youll burn out'
Good luck!


Personally I have never worked as intensively on the PhD as I did on the MPhil. I think that was the hardest I've ever worked in my life. One year courses tend to be very intense and I don't feel I could sustain that intensity for a PhD (and also I didn't have my daughter then). I work 9.30/10 to 6/7 3 days/week (when daughter is with her childminder) and 10 to 4/5 on Saturdays (husband takes daughter out). I very rarely work evenings because I'm tired and it makes me feel as though I have no life - although I keep meaning to. My daughter doesn't get to bed until 8-8.30 and I like to go to bed 10.30-11 so it's not a huge amount of time - I'd rather relax. I am not one of life's natural grafters and rely on strong motivation to get me through. Since that is flagging these days the going is tough.

It sounds as though you are very driven and acutally enjoy working a lot of hours/week - but still - take care as it is early days so don't burn out. Different projects at different stages require different amounts of work - they're not all the same so there is no standard amount of time you should be doing. Just guage what needs to be done and go from there.


I do around 8.30-5.30 for 5 days a week minimum, but then I am lab based. Occassionaly this will go up considerably but I aim to get things done as quickly as I can. I think a lot of it is organisation. If people were more honest about the actual number of PRODUCTIVE hours they put in a day, we wouldn't feel so bad ( a lot of people lie about hours put in for some bizaar reason which doesn't help). Try to remember that when you are making yourself feel guilty. Also, my fellow PhDs work from around 10 until 8, but I get more work done than them in less time, it really does depend how you work. A PhD is like a marathon, so just try and keep things going steadily and consistantly, if you do find yourself panicking then you can increase your hours, but don't do it just because you think you should. As a previous post said if you do not take time for yourself and to take a step back, you will burn out. Its hard getting rid of the feeling you should be working harder, but if you are motivated, taking it a bit easier shouldn't be a problem.


Wow Stressed! A pilot study done in the first month of arrival impressively enough to prove academic scholarship wrong already!! AND on the way to publications!

WTG Stressed :)

Seriously, I doubt if any of us out here have done this in the first month. Best, p'bug!


I have just started too, and usually work 9.30-5.30, although I do tend to procrastinate a bit and if I'm working from home I'll end up spending a bit of time doing pieces of housework. I'd say I end up doing about 6 solid, productive hours a day.

During my masters (when I used to stop work at 4) I used to do some work on the weekends, but don't want to get into the habit of doing this for my PhD, because it is such a huge, long, already slghtly stressful process, so I think I really need a break over the weekend.

I totally identify with the feelings of guilt and worrying that I'm not working enough, but i my opinion you have to try and avoid that mentality and have regular time set aside which is 'none-work' time. I know it can be difficult to seperate work from home time though, especially if you work from home.

Avatar for sneaks

I try to work 7 days a week but mainly because I tend to work from 11am-12 then lunch, then 2-4, then break for the evening :p so I have to work weekends to catch up. I tried to do the whole 9-5 in my first year but realised this year that if I want to get the thing done in less that 20 years, I will need to work weekends and evenings occassionally. I tend to go through weeks of working like crazy, then two weeks of vague admin work, then a crazy week again, I think its whatever you think. I know a lot of people who work for 8 hours a day, but accomplish the same amount of work that I get done in an hour, but it makes them feel better to think they have been 'working' for so long.


Thanks everyone, you've made me feel a whole lot better :-) I haven't quite managed to step down a gear from the madness of the MA and realise I have 3 years to do this, I don't have to do it all in the next few months lol - more tortoise than hare ;-) I will force myself to take at least one day off a week, especially during quieter weeks, preferably two - I don't want to burn out, it would be madness!
Lol Phdbug, thanks :-) Its not as big as it sounds - it was more a full on arrggghhhhhhhh pilot study after it turned out somebody had done something that sounded very similar to what I was planning (not sure how I missed it at proposal stage!) and they were quoted a fair bit so my proposal, even though different, would have been too similar and would have resulted in a 'yeh and????'. I had to do a pilot study as a matter of urgency to see if it was still viable - and oh is it ;-)
Sigh, I think I'm going to call it a night - as of tomorrow I am going to try and pace a bit better and stop these crazy hours!