How many hours per week ? (1st year)


======= Date Modified 11 Jul 2012 22:45:33 =======
Hello Everyone,

I am a 1st year PhD student (full time), just started in October.
I was wondering how many hours per week, you are currently working on your PhD?

I am also a GTA (6hours/week) and I find it absolutely impossible to work on my PhD on the days I teach. And on the days I don't teach, I find myself procrastinating a lot :(

I think, but I am not sure ... that I work around 10h/week on my research ... My colleagues (who are 2nd year PhD) told me I should not worry, that they were like me last year, that the 1st year it is usually like this, we have to find our own rhythm ...

What do you think ?

Thanks for your replies.


======= Date Modified 29 Nov 2010 18:19:17 =======
Hey Lullaby, people are very different in the way that they work on their PhD, so you should find a way that works for you. I treat my PhD as a full time job, so am in my office or visiting participants for at least 8 hours per day in the week, and I work weekends if necessary, but not all the time. But this is because my PhD is quite practical- I spend a lot of time travelling to and from participants and collecting data and inputting it, and I know others who don't have this issue very successfully work far fewer hours than that. I also know many people who have done their PhD along side a research job, so you don't necessarily have to spend all day every day working on it. The other thing to take into account is whether you hope to be writing for publication, going to conferences, supervise MSc students etc- your 2nd and 3rd years can become very busy if you hope to factor in all of those things, but not everybody has the same aims. I would imagine that later on in your PhD you might need to be putting more hours in than 10 per week, but who knows- some people are just exceptionally quick at what they do! You'll get into a routine soon enough so I wouldn't worry about it- as long as you and your sup are happy with your progress then that's good. It does help to have targets between supervisions too- that way you don't just drift along aimlessly for weeks at a time! Good luck with it all, KB


I also started in October. I have gone back to study from full-time work so I find it easiest just to treat it like a Mon-Fri, 9-5 job and go in to my office each day to work.

That's not to say that I spend a full 35 hours working hard - I spend a day a week in classes, and have the odd bit of procrastination. Overall, I feel I am making good progress, and my supervisors were happy with what I have achieved so far.

I expect that there will be periods of doing less and periods of doing more and I will go with the flow as that happens. I am not willing to give up my weekends until I really have to so my current regime is working well for me.

The main point is that we can all work at different paces and in different ways - some people do less during the week but then spend Saturdays in the library, and others do little and often. No one person is right and as long as you feel you are getting on with it and your supervisors are happy it is all good. (up)


Many thanks for your reply !

My supervisor seems really happy with what I have done so far and asked me to write an essay of 5000 words before the end of term.
But contrary to him, I do not feel happy at all with what I do ... I feel like I am not doing enough but can't find the motivation at the moment, to push myself to do more ... :$

Well, I hope I will quickly find a routine in which I feel I am productive ...

Thanks !


I think that part of the progression towards earning a PHd is to take responsibility for your own actions - all be it within a framework of supervision/course requirements. If you feel you can do more than 10 hrs per week then do it.

Ten hours a week sounds on the low side to me even compared to some of the previous discussions amongst part timers (like me) on this forum.


I'm also a new starter! I tend to do the bulk of my lab work between 9am and 2pm. Then I try (emphasis on the word try) to do some reading in the afternoon, although I have been known to just browse facebook or this forum when nobody of importance is looking. Afternoons aren't good for me :$. I then catch up with reading and writing for at least a couple of hours in the evening (except Fridays). Weekends, I tend not to do much apart from planning my week ahead on a Sunday evening. My supervisor is happy with me so far but I know that I need to put in a lot more hours/effort in the future. I'm just easing into this thing.


A lot depends on your subject - if you are in hard or life science then you will be sending time on experiments etc; similalry in psychology or health subject you may have participants to work with. If you are in history or similar then you may have to travel to archives. I will have fieldwok to do which will be very intensive.

It also depends on what other commitments you have. Many of us are part time and are doing full time jobs in whcih case our PhD fits in whenever (esp if we have children to factor into the equation) - I do more on it out of term time as I am not teaching then but then if I have a deadline I work like mad on it.


Many thanks for all your answers.

For the moment, except reading and doing literature reviews, there is nothing else I can do ... Fieldwork will be next year ...

But for the end of this week, I am going to check how many hours I really work per day ... maybe this will make me realise I don't work enough .. ah ah ..!


Do you keep any kind of research journal?

I've been noting down what I've done each day alongside any ideas that have come to me. Maybe that would allow you to see your progress but not just in terms of hours.

Sometimes it's hard to do, but it's worth it to see how your ideas are coming along and what you have read.


Whilst it varies from person to person I would say that you should aim not necessarily for a certain number of hours but to get into a good routine. The earlier you get into a good routine of working the better. Even if you find yourself procrastinating now, if you're in the position to do work when you need to then this will help. I think 10 hours is definitely too few hours for a full time PhD, it's only 2 hours a day! I'm guessing you've come straight from undergrad level, as there is no way you would get away with that in the "real world". (Not having a go, but it is true :-) )

As I say, don't worry if you spend time early on procrastinating or not knowing what you're doing, but I would say that you should spend at least the 35 hours (a working week of 9-5 each day with an hour for lunch) working on PhD/TA/Uni stuff. Once you're in the habit of doing that it'll be easier to keep it up when you really need to.

By the way, as CR1980 says "we can all work at different paces and in different ways - some people do less during the week but then spend Saturdays in the library, and others do little and often", so 35 hours could be split over the 7 days of the week however it suits you best. I know of people who prefer to work solidly for 4 days, then have a three day weekend every week, and others who take massive lunch breaks and work in short spurts, but do so every day. Both ways gets you 35 hours, it just depends on preference.

Sounds like your supervisor is happy at the mo, and that's the main thing!!

Good luck!


On reflection, it looks like I'll be using up my Saturdays to catch up with work now :-(. That's (Ph.D.) life.


Hello everyone :)

Im also new, started last October and can confess to have not done much work in the first 2 months and now im goign at full speed coz of a deadline i have been given. So if u'r like me i work mostly under pressure. Same as you Lullaby my fieldworks are taking place in d 2nd and 3rd year so for now its just reading and setting objectives and methodologies for the years ahead. At the moment i have not been given an office and its really hard working at home where I get distracted by stuff very easily. I end up on facebook or looking up youtube xD

but i'd like to ask is it normal for d 1st year to be taking things easily? especially when only literature review is involved?

Many thanks wishing all a productive week :)


I think it's easy to get disheartened in first year (and second and third too!) about time, workload etc. For what it's worth, I'm in my first year of PhD proper, although it's the second year of a 1+3. I generally get to work at about 9.15, and stay until about 6ish. Depending on the day, I may be in the lab a lot, or at my desk most of the time, and when I'm at my desk, I sometimes mess around on the internet etc. I also usually work one last morning/afternoon at the weekend, at home. I reckon, then, that I'm either at work or in "work mode" for about 48-50 hours a week, although I'm not actually doiing proper work all this time.


======= Date Modified 11 Jul 2012 22:46:11 =======

Ecas002, I'm feeling the same as you do ....
I have been allocated an office but I can't work there, there are other people in it and I can't concentrate with them next to me.
So I prefer working at home but I also get distracted ....

Good luck everyone!!(up)


Hello, I am a PT PhD, and started this January, so I haven't been going long but have managed to read a lot and writer several essays, all rubbish I'm sure! I was told for a PT PhD you need to be putting in around 500 hrs a year. I have a week off a month to study and I try and do an hour every day. I don't know about you, but I can only read intensively for about an hour at a time, my eyes go all funny and my brain need a rest. I try to read in hour intervals. I a typical day I can get about 4hrs in on my study week, if I was reading for please I don't have this issue, it's the intensity of the study that is draining. Anyway that's what I am doing, but I always feel I should be doing more. Failure is not an option!