personal quest or just a job?


Yes, I know people have talked about this a lot of times, but I wanted to know how people in this forum feel, and how do you manage your PhD.

I have tried several times to manage it as a 9-5 job, but just I can't. I just think about people who are incredible passionate, people who devote their life to work, so that makes me feel kind of behind and bad if I am not working.

Do you take your PhD as a personal quest, or as a 9-5 job?


I think of it as a job, for the first two years I probably did 9-5 or a bit more, now I do 8.30-6 as I know time is pressing on. My supervisor told me to try working more to get through some lab samples, and I did for two weeks and totally burned out mentally and physically (lots of hunching in my labwork so now getting physio for massive shoulder strain). I think you can work more hours but in my case productivity crashes after 6pm so I'd rather have less productive hours than more hours where I do less if you see what I mean! Everyone works differently though.


Finding what works for you is a challenge. I have a family so they are my priority, my life's work. I am constantly thinking through various problems, issues, researching and reading at all times. My mind is hardly ever switched off from that. But with youngsters I have no social life so I can do that ha ha. Physical writing I do when I have the energy and enthusiasm. I work better that way. I can clock up quite a lot of words in a very short time when my minds on it. If I'm not on it I don't write. I'd rather do something else useful than fret over writing because I know it will come back to me. I'm not a planner as such.


Started out as being something along the lines of torture (that was a year and a half in). Then on in, I refused to let it take over. No email checks before 9am and after 5pm, definitely no meetings outside the times of 9-5, my weekend started at 5pm Friday. Work didn't exist on the weekends for me, neither did any of my colleagues or supervisor. That was to complete any practical work. I did the same when I was writing up too. I came out relatively ok.


For me it is a bit of both, I describe it as doing exactly as much as I need to do. No more, no less. Sometimes this requires me to work long days and weekends but most of the time its 9-5 ish or making up for long lunches lol. I've mostly got the right balance and my supervisors are happy with how my work is progressing. The only thing I struggle with the keeping on top of the literature. My research is lab based so if I have a busy week in the lab I get little to no reading done but when things slow down again I start to catch up.


I cannot treat it as 9-5, I certainly tried in the beginning but that is not due to the volume of work, mainly it is because I struggle to focus if I set myself strict working times. I am at my most productive very early in the morning, so I tend to begin work no later than 6.30 am, then I work until around 7 pm but longer in busy periods/close to deadlines. Though, this is not consistent work as I obviously take an hour to eat, and have tea breaks! I see it more as a period of intense academic and self development I suppose. I do casual research and teaching work alongside my study which ramps up my hours, but I consider myself lucky really as I probably would not get those opportunities to gain such experiences if I was not studying the PhD :)


I think it really depends on you as a person, and the type of PhD. I would think a science phd with lab work might be more suited to a 9-5 as you need to go to the lab, whereas a social science PhD with qualitative research, a 9-5 is not always the best route to go.

I didn't have a 9-5 routine, and when I tried it just didn't work for me. I did a qualitative sociology PhD that was a qualitative content analysis and interviews. I found that I worked best in the mornings so forced myself to get up early, but I also worked from home most of the time. The afternoons were spent doing other things, like errands, and evenings spent with my partner, or volunteer work.

Sometimes I spent weekends on my work, and other times I didn't. Sometimes I worked in the evenings during the week or on the weekend. Some days I would go up to the library to change scenery, or head into campus.

There were times where I didn't even work on the PhD, such as between end of March, 2014-Beginning of May-2014 as I was just too busy with wedding and teaching commitments. I took 4-5 weeks annual leave each year as well.

Did I get it done? Yes! It's under examination right now (no VIVA here in Australia) and was finished within the 3.5 year time frame for funding.

So don't feel pressured into a 9-5 if it doesn't work for you. Find what works for you, and it's okay if your routine changes throughout your course. For some people, the 9-5 is what got them through, for others, it's what broke them.


Thank you all very much for your answers.

The problem is that I'm starting my third year I feel burnt out, so I'm gonna try a 9-5 approach.

Thank you again.