Working full time while finishing write up


I have 5 months left until the absolute final deadline for submitting my thesis. I am starting a new job in a few weeks time. The plan had been to submit before I started the job, and that should have been feasible. However, throughout my PhD I've had difficulties with lack of departmental project management support, and I've been involved with a number of external collaborations (at my supervisor's behest) that have eaten into my time with revisions and re-analyses. I can't change what's happened though, and just have to deal with the fact that I will not have submitted (or indeed totally finished drafting) before I start work.

I'm fortunate in that I don't need to relocate for the job, and it's only semi-academic so I won't be faced with paper-writing/grant-writing/teaching obligations on arrival. So it won't be as bad as if I were starting a post-doc. I guess I'm just looking for input from other people who have been in a similar situation. How did you cope with the work-thesis balance?

I'd also be interested in hearing from people who have had to submit at a stage when their thesis could have done with a bit more time. I hope it doesn't come to it but I can envisage a scenario where I just have to bite the bullet and submit, knowing that it might increase my chances of major corrections.




Since I started my PhD I have been working full time, in another country, my first language is not the language of my PhD, I work in a completely different field than my research, my earlier studies (bachelor, MA and MBA) are not even close to the area of my reserach.... (so many difficulties, I know)
Now I am finishing my write-up and hopefully I will submit by October or by Christmas the very latest. Even though I still have time to fiunish off, I am tired and bored of my theisis....

I will not tell you it is an easy task. You have to work hard, make a schedule and follow it.
I am at work every morning until 2pm, then I go to the gym for an hour, then it is lunch, shower and study till 9 or 10pm.
I have never studied over the weekends, as I need time off.

It is difficult but it is doable!!!!!


Quote From emmaki:

Even though I still have time to fiunish off, I am tired and bored of my theisis....

Yeah, this is a major problem I'm having. I'm so fed up with it. Right now, I should be working working working on it to do as much as I can before I start my job, but I am sick of the sight of it.

I know I'll get there in the end, but I'm finding it painful! I'm not sure that the motivation will get any better once I'm tied to the old 9-5 either...


Hi Hazyjane,

I was working an 8-5 full time job for the last 4 years of my PhD (part time). It wasn't easy. For the last year in particular, it was hard to concentrate on my job, as the PhD occurpied a great deal of my mental head space. It was fustrating not being able to work on the PhD during the most mentally productive part of the day (~ 10am -3 pm for me). I worked on the thesis during my lunch break for an hour, snuck in some writing during occasional lulls at work, and spent my entire Sundays in the office (for peace and quiet). I also used quite a chuck of my annual leave to get some writing in.

It's going to a significant challenge for you, but it's doable.


Avatar for BlackTrinity

Hi HazyJane

I used my fourth year for writing up and had to get a full time job for financial reasons so ended up working in a call centre, doing predominantly late shifts and had to work round those. It was hard work and I was absolutely sick of the sight of it. I always gave myself one afternoon/evening off a week, made sure I got up early an got at least an hour in before work an depending on the shift some time after, but if I managed a paragraph or section of editing it was one less thing to do.

I submitted last Thursday which was the final day of my my four year time limit. I seriously felt like I was never going to make and was constantly tired but I got it in and am due to start a science job on Monday. It felt like a bit of a rush job towards the end and am still quite worried that I'm going to have loads of corrections come viva but its in and I'll just have to deal with changes when it comes to it.

You CAN do it, you just have to work at it bit by bit and it might feel like you're not getting anywhere but you'll do a check through one day and you'll be amazed at how much you've one without realising.

Best of Luck
Trin x


I worked full time while finishing writing up and found it tough. Like Barramack, it was the job I resented rather than the PhD, which I enjoy(ed). It was hard to devote so much time and energy to a job I’m not really interested in when I just wanted to focus on finishing my thesis. I had no time on weekday evenings (I work long hours) so spent weekends on the thesis, which meant no social life and never having a break - and at a time when friends and family were already starting to get impatient. I don’t think this is sustainable in the long term so I took annual leave, worked really hard and submitted a few months after starting work, which was probably a mistake but I just wanted it over with. Escaped with minor corrections but feel a bit disappointed in my thesis overall and feel it’s weaker than it should be after all the care and thought I invested earlier on. Basically, without the job I feel it would have been completed more quickly and to a higher standard.

I’m now completely out of steam, not sure when I’ll get the corrections done, certainly have no time to write papers, and am getting pretty grumpy as a result. On top of that, everyone says I should be grateful to have a job (which of course I am, although it's far from my dream one) so don't expect much sympathy for your months of graft. I'm normally a pretty positive person but this has pushed me to my limits. But for me there was no choice financially.

I'm in awe of Barramack who did it for four years!

On a positive note the experience has taught me to make more efficient use of the time available, and also that having enforced breaks from the thesis can give perspective on it.

It is doable but try to do what you can before you start work.


This is a fairly normal situation for part-time PhD-ers to be in, not just at the end of their PhDs, but throughout it. I don't think full-timers really appreciate how hard it is to study part-time, usually fitting the PhD alongside a full-time job. People in this situation tend to have grab moments here and there, squeeze their PhD into odd hours in the evening, and at weekends. It takes over your life, and removes your social/family time. But it's what it takes.

Near the end of my 6 year part-time PhD I wasn't working, but because of severely disabling progressive neurological illness I only had a total of about 5 good hours a week on which to do anything PhD-y, including the final writing up stage. I had to work in 1 hour bursts, because of my illness, spread throughout the week.

I got through by setting myself realistic time goals, drawing up to-do lists, and keeping nibbling away regularly at what I needed to do, week by week. It's tempting to wait until you can have an extended period of time to work on a PhD, but this rarely happens for part-timers, and it's better to keep banging away at it steadily, in those hours you can grab during the week/weekend. Then you will make progress, and can finish. Including the final writing up.

Good luck!


I take my hat off to all of you doing part-time PhDs. Talk about sacrifices and perseverance!


Well helpful stuff you shared here.