What is your daily routine, whilst studying for your PhD?

I'm about to start, and feel like I almost need to structure my days to ensure I get the best out of them. This is the first time I have not 'worked' (as in had a 9-5 job) and am concerned that I will just let days go to waste.

I tend to find I need to get out of the house before I can focus on getting my head down.. perhaps I should take up running (shudder) and go for morning jog?

Do you have set meal/break times?


Hi JenJen

I'm really looking forward to people's responses to this one! I'm starting in two weeks' time, part-time. I'll have Mondays and Tuesdays (and sometimes Wednesdays, when not teaching) set aside for the PhD and would also benefit from the voices of wisdom regarding setting routines (and sticking to them!).

I'm certainly thinking about structuring myself around my Pilates class!


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During my first full-time PhD, which I had to leave due to developing neurological illness, I worked in the office 9-5 Monday-Friday. That was expected. It was a science PhD.

During my part-time history PhD I worked from home, and much fewer hours. Towards the end of the PhD I was managing on just 5 hours total a week, in 1 hour chunks spread throughout the week. That's all I could do as the illness progressed further. But it worked, and I completed.

The most important thing, especially for part-timers, is to find a routine that works for you that you can apply week after week after week. Except in rare circumstances (for example teachers with extended summer holidays) it isn't practical to hope for another time when you will have more time available, and instead you should put the work in week after week. And view the PhD as a marathon rather than a sprint, especially part-timers, and don't burn yourself out.

Good luck both.



I was thrilled that you responded to this post, BilboBaggins - I've seen your name in so many inspirational posts already!!
Thanks for your thoughts - I've been so lucky to sort out my teaching (in 2 different faculties in an entirely different university!) to fit into 2/3 days during the whole of this first semester, which means I can do exactly what you suggest - at least for this semester. Fingers crossed for the remainder of the marathon!


First and foremost everyone has their own routine and it takes a good few weeks to let it shape itself organically.

Im a humanities student so my mantra is write, write, write.

I get up 8.30am - breakfast.
And then get rocking at 9am.
Work til 1pm - lunch
Then 1.30pm til 4pm - more work.
4pm - 5.30pm - Gym
Bit of relaxing (dying!!)
Then Dinner
Then more work for an hour or so.
Then watch myself in a bit of Curb Your Enthusiasm or waste my time looking at crap (I said crap not porn!) on the net.
Then bed.

Highlights: Gym; writing as soon as I get up
Lowlights: Seeing things I don't want to see at the gym.


I've never really had a routine, really. For me it's procrastinate for a bit, work for a bit, procrastinate for a bit - and so on. I think you'll pretty quickly find what works for you, whether it's a disciplined military routine or working extra hard when deadlines draw near. I can confidently say, judging by the nature of your post, that you're not likely to let your days go to waste. Just remember what wise Bilbo says: don't burn yourself out by 'sprinting' all the time. Good luck and I really hope you enjoy it.:-)


I find a routine really useful. I like a bit of order and control, so routine is pretty important for me. My PhD is in social sciences and I teach at another campus 2 days a week. So the days that I teach, I only do teaching stuff, and whatever admin stuff that has to be done. The other 3 days I work solidly on my PhD at my office at uni – occasionally when try to work from home it is a complete failure, I just can’t concentrate on my work and end up watching Gilmore girls or Weeds (or similar) episodes. On the phd days I get up at 6, am in the office by 7.30, have lunch for about half an hour at 12.30, and then work through to about 5.30 or 6pm. They are long days, but it means that I am not under too much pressure to work on the weekend.
This works well for me, but as the others have said, you have to find your own way to work.


Im 10 months into my FT PhD---Here goes...

Wake up at 6 (sometimes earlier)
6.30-7.30 Check e mails, quick skim over what I was reading day before
8.30-10.30 gym
11-6 work (making coffee acts as break)
Watch crap TV, fall asleep at 10...then do it all over again:-(


I am in my 3rd year of a PT PhD, while working FT as a SEN teacher.
I have to have a routine, otherwise the game is lost!
So my daily routine is:
6:45 Wake up
8-2:30 Work
2:30-3 Lunch
3:30-10 or 11: work on my PhD
11-12: TV/or something else
12: Sleep

Having this routine has helped me a lot, as I have managed to have a quite good progress (I have finished my literature review, (almost) my methodology chapter and a first analysis chapter) and I am part-time.....


I tend to follow a fairly strict schedule. Wake up at 7, in the office by 8. Lunch for 30 min between 12 and 1 (depending on when I finish reading/writing), Work until 5 with a 15 coffee break at about 2-ish, go for a run and relax for the evening. I'm still trying to get back into the swing of things after just returning from field work portion and mucking about with all the 'fun' admin stuff. But I should be back on target by the end of this week.

Of course, my housemate thinks I am a bit nutty as she likes to do her as the feeling takes her, and usually works better in the evenings. She seems to be moving along just fine, but sometimes ends up doing 7 days a week if she feels she has fallen behind.

So if you are comfortable with the 9-5, that might be a good way for you to go... but find your productivity streaks and don't try to force it too soon, there will be time to get to know (and hate - yes I both love and hate this thing) your PhD soon enough. :$


I'm only a month in and I can see I've got myself into bad habits already...

Wake up at 6:30am (though, to be honest, I don't sleep well and am frequently up at 4am)
Read textbooks or write notes on the train
Get into Uni by 8am (I like the peace and quiet)
Procrastinate for an hour, start work at 9am
Start up -- 1st pomodoro is the daily to-do lists and structures, then breaking things into 1/2 hour chunks
11am, get a coffee and end up checking FB, email, and blogs for an hour
12-1pm, get lunch, read the news and blogs online
1-2pm, accept that I "can't concentrate in the afternoons," spend another hour checking FB and email etc...
3-5pm, start tackling problems again
5-6pm decide to work overtime because I've procrastinated all day
6-6:30 read more textbooks on the train
7-10pm pretend to catch up on background reading (+ writing projects) whilst actually getting dinner / having a bath / watching tv / playing with the hamster
10pm -- go to sleep and wake up at 4am, lay in bed until alarm goes off at 6:30

Not the most productive routine ever invented.

Avatar for sneaks

My routine:

6am: wake up
6.00-6.45: get hubby up, dressed, fed and to the station
6.45-8.30: shower, my breakfast, feed dog, walk dog (for at least 45 mins). Although I now want to add jogging for 30 mins into my routine, which can't be done whilst on dog walk as I walk in VERY muddy ploughed field.
8.30-11: work (ha!)
11: elevenses - cup of tea and a biscuit
11.15-1: work
1: lunch
1.30-5: work
5: another dog walk
6: pick up hubby
6 onwards: make tea, do clothes washing, unload dishwasher, clean rooms
9pm: go to bed (haha!, so early!) and watch episodes of jonathan creek or read teenage vampire fiction :$

Now my problem is not working after 5pm, I really want to, but I have so much to do and hubby likes to go to bed really early because of the 6am start, otherwise he gets burnout from commuting and working all week.

S is very good to stop you wasting time.

I get up between 8 and 9 (unless I have to go onto campus that day in which case it's earlier) and start work between 8.30 and 10. I do try and make it as early as possible because I find it difficult to work late but found I got into bad habits over the summer without regular teaching commitments etc to get me up early.

Lunch at 12.30-1 for half an hour.

Finish work and usually go to the gym between 4 and 5.30.

I never work in the evenings because by the time I've got back from the gym and made dinner there's not much time left anyway and I'd rather relax. I'm just starting my final year so I'm preparing to do slightly longer days. But as others have said it's a marathon and consistency is the key.


I wouldn't say I have a routine.... I'm terrible actually, I'm more of an interval runner.... jog along a bit, walk a bit, fast sprint (deadline), walk a bit and so on...

I work 2 days at the uni as an RA so don't do much PhD work on those days (I have ME and can't over do it) but I do tend to do a bit on the PhD 7 days a week as I just can't work solidly long term for 8 hours a day, I'd die (or at least have a relapse and lose my degree) lol! When I have deadlines coming I tend to sprint, work more, longer hours etc, but when I'm data collecting and analysing then I tend to do 2 hours some days, 8 hours others, procrastinate too much others.... I'm just starting my 3rd year and the pressure is really starting to pile on especially now I'm thinking about publishing and presenting, but I find I work when I can and its going well. I've never been much of a 'structure' person in study or live. I do like mytomatoes though :-) Very helpful for when I'm seriously procrastinating (like now!)

You have to find what works for you and we're all different. Some as you can see are incredibly organised - others (like me) are rubbish at it but ensure we get through the work and meet the deadlines.

Oh and I'd strongly recommend taking up running - I'm a bit evangelical with that - ask Sneaks lmao - its brilliant and after a darned good run i work so much better


I am only just getting back into PhD work after a break and this is my schedule on the days I work:

6.30am - get up and get dressed
7.00 - 8.00 - wake, dress and feed babies and take son to school (my other half sometimes does the school run).
8.30 - leave babies with babysitter and go into Uni
9.00 - 13.00 - work with a 15 min coffee break along the way.
13. - 13.30 - lunch
13.30 - 15.00 - more work
15.30 - get kids back and really no work gets done after that point in the day so I have given up trying! Am just too tired to work after dinner. :-(