I think it may be over.


Hi everyone,

Im kinda here for a much needed kick up the bum...

I have been on my fully funded phd programme for 10 months and have made very little progress. I know everyone says this... but I mean it. My levels of procrastination have got worse and worse and on (extremely panicked) reflection I realise that I have done VERY little. I have been socialising and aggressively smoking to block out the work commitments. No organisation to my notes (where there are any), no progress towards a research project and have a small deadline in a few days (set a month ago) that I have only just dragged myself out of the pit of despair to try and get to grips with.

I realise (in hindsight) that I have not taken advice as I have assumed that 'I should know this already'. I haven't asked the right questions because 'I should know this already'. And now Im terrified that my only option is to quit. I feel that I didn't think through doing a phd in the first place and assumed it will just happen... I am aware of how insulting this sounds to everybody else who works so very hard. But I know that if I quit I will just have something else to hate me for and no job prospects.

I have (again in a fit of horrendously unprofessional panic) spoken to my supervisor (about which I can remember very little as I was EXTREMELY panicked at the time) who agreed to this small deadline. The problem is, I dont think it is relevant and I just spouted the suggestion in an effort to get through the meeting.

I have always been a last minute self-sabotage addict and I believe I need to put my hands up and admit that I am not cut out to do this because I have been overwhelmed from the start and not addressed it suitably.

Any advice???


Can I ask what subject you are in? Are you all desk based? I am an awful procrastinator at a computer (hence being on this forum instead of finishing my work!) but I'm fine doing anything away from the computer. If you are the same but are stuck at a computer perhaps you need to break things up into tiny tasks you can tick off one by one (it sounds pretentious but it's one of those silly things that really works) and make a big plan of all the things that you need to do in the short term (week or month) and long term (over the year/whole phd length). 10 months in is most likely still seen as early by your supervisor so they won't bat an eyelid if you ask all those questions you've been putting off. Most people feel as you do so don't panic, if you want a PhD make some changes and you'll get there!


All is not lost. Depending on your area most people spend the first year not even knowing what their research project is going to look like or have any real research questions! What do you need to do for your upgrade? Do you have an upgrade?


I'd say it's definitely not over.

(That's if your sup has faith that you're the type that can 'catch up' (it may not even be much catching up!))

It depends if you really want to do it. And that can mean either cos you like it or cos you're too scared of unemployment (for me it was the latter).

What however I think is massively important (because I had bouts of what you're doing in my 3rd and 4th year...I totally recognise this behaviour) is make a commitment and promise to yourself to be kind to yourself and really tackle the mental issues that make you a self-sabotage procrastinator addict. I think that will be harder than the PhD. I think also remember...these issues...they will probably pop up in other areas even if you quit. The PhD could be a great lesson in learning self-love, acceptance and care. As well as giving you the PhD that is.

It sounds to me like you've got other issues too. The PhD can def exacerbate all this crap, but it could maybe be a way to learn too.

But also, you know your situation best. In any case, be good to yourself.


My advice is not to give up. I have felt like this several times in the past...
Also, try to use my tomatoes (google it) to fight procrastination. It worked for me.
Lastly, turn off or delete your social networks. That's the best thing I ever did in my PhD life. I deleted my facebook and sky-rocketed my research and publications. If your friends are real friends, they will find other ways to contact you and stand by you.


Hi everyone- I really appreciate your motivational words. I feel very fortunate to have such a network here! (I was expecting a bit of a - get your lazy ass in gear response).

Caro- I am in the social sciences. My time is currently split between a project that may be useful to my future project (if i ever actually think and commit as to how this could be) and my own desk.

Wowzers- My upgrade has to be within 18months so my grand plan is to draw up an official goal plan taking me back for that (req's literature review and methodology chapters. Thought of that at the moment makes me feel quite ill.)

I think the absolute standstill (and there has been about a month with literally nothing.) has come from a lack of structure to my day and extremely vague goals. So I will take this plan to my supervisor and then break it down and STICK TO IT!

I've heard a lot about this tomato technique... think now is the time to get on it :)

Thanks all!

Avatar for Pjlu

Good for you. And you know we all go through or have gone through a horror patch (sometimes more than one) in the PhD so while you think that these signs might be telling you 'you are not cut out for this'-really this is just one of the aspects of completion.

It is sort of like the journey or quest narratives, where at some point in the journey, some horrible little hobgoblin is going to pop up and tell you all sorts of nasty and demotivating things to try and hold you up or make you go back.

In fairy tales the quester has to overcome this hobgoblin and so it is within the PhD journey. Take a deep breath, you have just met your own personal hobgoblin and you are coming through, then keep on going. :) Best of luck.


Two chapters about 7-10 thousand words each in 8 months is so doable. They don't have to be your best work, they will change with your data. Do you have to do this other project?


Thanks for the link Keyboardplodder! I may have procrastinated by reading it but it was hilarious and totally true! Now to get that self-gratification monkey under control ;)

Avatar for lemonjuice

Quote From wowzers:
Two chapters about 7-10 thousand words each in 8 months is so doable.

I agree with Wozers here, it's very doable.......but only if you stop beating yourself up!! I would focus on the literature review most and have an outline of the methods. At the upgrade they will want to see you're thinking ahead to potential problems and have a timescale - so developing a Gantt chart for the final 2-3 years is a really good idea as it will give them confidence you have a plan (worked for me!). Also, I had 2 months in my 3rd year (now in year 4 - write up year) when I did absolutely nothing, I just couldn't even face opening a PDF to read something - let alone write anything. But I'm still here plugging away :) You can do it, promise!


hi there, I have been through this too! Many people procrastinate!
Don't give up
love satchi


Quote From keyboardplodder:
read this, its great

Love this! It's just me, I can just see me trying to write my thesis in two months or less!


((That link was awesome!))

As for the rough patch, I also had one in the last months, it was like that hopgobblin thing and now its back under control - which I felt could very well never happen. I kept thinking about everybody I know that gave up on their PhD and I felt so understanding towards them and almost envious...

Take a few days off and FORCE yourself to do nothing for at least a week to 10 days and sleep as much as you can...things will probably better after and you wont be so exhausted mentally trying to force yourself to work all the time.
You might be able to focus easier and the real challenge is starting, right?

Best of luck!