seem to have lost my way and really struggling


I am entering my 5th year of what was a funded PhD (social science) but am now having to fund myself as have gone over time. I am really struggling, and now panicking that I will never finish this. I have done the lit review, the methodology and the findings but my supervisor says the findings still need a lot of work to get them right. Problem is every day I wake up determined to get on and get it finished, but then I sort of "freeze" and end up by the end of the day, not much actual PhD work has been done. I just feel overwhelmed by the amount of work I think I now have to do, and yes I'm aware I am making this worse for myself. Any words of wisdom from anyone? I know I need a massive kick but I'm just so frightened by it all, and can't admit this to either friends, family or supervisor. Perhaps I am not cut out for PhD material.


Hi Sunflower12, I felt just like you as I entered my 5th year this year. But you will be pleased to hear that you can get through it. I submitted at the end of July and never thought i would ever manage that.
First of all you have got this far so you are obviously cut out for a PhD. Sometimes it's the long hard slog and the not giving up which is what gets you the PhD rather than being hyper intelligent (not that I am suggesting that you are not of course!) Do you have a submission date yet? That really sobered me up and gave me the determination to finish but it was still frightening.
What I also did was write a clear list of everything that needed doing for each chapter and another tip I was given was start to think of the thesis as a whole rather than individual bits. I put everything into a folder and then I could see where the gaps were and worked on these. I did have a lot of work to do and felt overwhelmed but I could see that some chapters were ready and others weren't so I concentrated on starting at the beginning and making sure that I filled in gaps so that the chapters flowed from start to finish and if I found I needed some work on specific areas i would go away (metaphorically as I was chained to my desk) and do that then slot it in where it was needed, then carry on going through things methodically.
I don't know whether this will help but there are other threads that might help you with this. I started a 'Final Push Diary' and there is 'One Goal Thread'. These might help. Good luck. you can do it.


I think it's easy to feel overwhelmed, and the only way I've found to deal with it is to chop the task up into small chunks and set deadlines for the chunks. And try and get something done each day, no matter how I feel and no matter how small the amount.


I agree with Docinsanity's recommendation to divide the work into "chunks" and plan the amount of time you will spend on each task every day. I just want to add that you should try to treat the work like a job, starting and ending at a set time each day, with planned breaks. I found the pomodoro technique helpful ( whenever I got stuck in an unproductive rut.

If you're having trouble getting motivated, you could "warm up" each morning with some easy tasks, before starting the challenging tasks. (You could also try the reverse: start with the challenging tasks, then reward yourself with easy tasks toward the end of the day.)

Although looking at the PhD project as a whole might work for some, it seems most people, at some point, just feel overwhelmed by the enormity of the thing. If you're at that point, taking it one task at a time, one day at a time - even 25 minutes at a time - might help. Every journey begins with a single step.


what eventually worked for me is that i decided i was tired of the phd process. it was not only becoming costly financially, emotionally but also healthwise.

so i decided to get over and done with it. i came up with timelines. it took me about three months to write my thesis. i'd done all the reading that was possible if i was ever gonna get a phd - i did mine in 6 years - so i decided reading anymore wasn't going to help. i decided to think more of what i was saying and put it down.

i hibernated from life during those three months and just wrote my thesis. i told myself that after the three months life would not have gone anywhere.. i could go out and do things that i enjoyed then, but at this point i was tired of the phd. i needed an end to it: a successful one or not. i needed an end either way.

to finish.. you need to get to this point. the reason you freeze is because you have time - at least in your subconscious mind. you need to get to the point where you decide you've had it and you need to see an end to this phd.

a certain author - who i can't remember.. lol - says with regard to writing up that when you know you've only got two months left before the hang, your mind concentrates wonderfully. try to get to this point where you concentrate wonderfully. where only your thesis is on your mind.

you can do it.. if you can overcome yourself. its not the mountain we conquer. we conquer ourselves.

use all techniques you can to conquer yourself - pomodoro, splitting tasks, get a support group, counsellor, do whatever you have to do to finish.

decide to be done and you're 90% there.