Overview of Rebs

Recent Posts

coping with unproductive days

I'm in Humanities too and I often feel the same - it's hard when you're alone, as you say, and the day can just go by before you even realise you're not getting anything done. Then I get paranoid I'm a terrible phd student and everyone else is working hard, which makes it worse...

Things I've found that help me are:
- Talking to other trusted PhD friends (when I do actually see them) who always tell me they procrastinate/have completely unproductive days and weeks too, which makes me feel a lot less like I'm bad, lazy and the only one.
- Reminding myself I can start any time, I don't have to work all day - so even if I've wasted 6 hours, just doing one hour now is better than nothing and still a good thing to do - the day isn't necessarily a complete waste. I often try to kickstart myself with a less "thinky" task such as form-filling or basic translation (I work partly in a foreign language) as often I'm procrastinating because I'm overwhelmed by the idea of all the thinking...
- Making a list of all the things I *have* managed to do that day, even if it's just "checked my emails, tidied my desk, made a phone call" - it's still better than nothing, and often you'll find you have been doing necessary things that contribute to your PhD even if it's just in an admin-y way.
- As BilboBaggins said, recognise that it might be a sign I need to take a break - it's fine to walk away for a day or even a week if you really need it. I always find that refreshes me. Often as PhD students we're thinking about our work even when we're not actually doing it, or doing it at evenings or weekends, so it's ok to take breaks during 9-5 to make up for that.
- If it gets really bad, try emailing your supervisor if they're the approachable type, and tell them you've hit a productivity low, and maybe see if you can meet up for just a 15 min chat or something to get you enthusiastic and raring to go again.
- Don't worry! I'd say if it starts turning into weeks and months without getting anything done, then you'd need to sit down and work out what's going on. But the odd day or even week here and there is not a big problem, and in my experience, happens to everyone.

Hope that helps! Good luck getting back down to work, hope tomorrow is a better day.

First conference paper - impostor alert!

Ahaha Killahtron - thanks, amazing video! Am going to listen to it over and over so I have it in my head if I start getting the imposter feeling and it'll maybe remind me not to take it all so seriously :)

And thanks everyone for your replies - really appreciate it. You're right, everyone gets nervous and it'll probably be just fine, and someone would have said something by now if it was really a problem...I will be seriously amazed if anyone takes notes while I'm talking, hadn't even considered that - I bet that would be a good feeling. Thanks everyone - this was my first post here, and I'm so impressed how supportive this place is!

HELP! demotivated and lost

I agree with the others - when I go blank I just tell myself I'm just writing to get down everything that's in my mind, and I'm not going to show this to anyone else at all. That helps me give myself permission to write down what feels like utter rubbish at first - try just writing down the most obvious things about the literature you've been reading. Even just "X wrote paper X in 2010" - the absolute basics. Once you've started you'll probably find you pick up momentum quite quickly, and can then go back and edit to take out the parts that aren't so great.

If you're really stuck, though, take a day off and don't think about it at all, or do some completely different work - may be all you need to come back fresh the next day.

Good luck!

Getting feedback from Sup

Argh, I've been in that situation too, gone all the way up to my uni to find he's double-booked my slot and says "can we make it next week instead?" Beyond frustrating - I feel your pain! Good luck with getting hold of him this week.

What gadgets/other things you've bought have been really useful with your PhD?

Just wanted to second biddysbottom - the one thing I've bought that has helped me most on my PhD (apart from laptop, which you've already got) was Freedom (http://macfreedom.com/) which is a program you can download which blocks your internet access for up to 8 hours at a time (you set the amount of time). You get a few free trial runs and then it costs $10 to register it. You might not be a terrible internet procrastinator like me though :)

First conference paper - impostor alert!

Hi everyone,

I'm presenting my first ever conference paper (2nd year of my PhD) at a postgrad conference in a couple of weeks and have suddenly developed a serious case of impostor syndrome - am convinced my research is really basic and obvious, my grasp of theory is weak, and people in the audience are going to sit there pointing out really obvious gaps in my knowledge. Sigh...

The rational part of my brain tells me this probably isn't the case - my abstract was accepted, my supervisor went over it with me, the paper is based on a draft chapter of my thesis which both of my supervisors have given me feedback on before, and liked, and I've practised the paper with a friend doing a PhD in a related field. I think it's just that this conference is quite theory-focused (literary theory, basically) and I don't feel I've got a very thorough grasp on it (which is why I submitted an abstract, hoping it would prod me on my way to thinking through the theoretical side to my work).

Anyway, I guess I'm just looking to hear your experiences with this, and maybe for a bit of reassurance that all the people in the audience probably aren't going to think it's that rubbish and probably even if they do they won't say so? I feel quite confident about the actual presenting and networking and everything, it's just the whole "what if it turns out everything I'm saying is really stupid" feeling that's stressing me out!


Getting feedback from Sup

I live a couple of hours away from my uni (so have to be pretty organised with meetings and so on), and have had similar issues with getting responses from my 2nd supervisor. He just hates email and is a bit disorganised, so doesn't tend to reply to emails, and tells everyone just to drop in to see him, which really doesn't work for me being so far away. (But then when I do eventually get to see him he's really, really helpful, so it's worth it!) I've got into the habit of endlessly pestering him, which feels awkward to me but he doesn't seem to mind. It's really infuriating to have to keep pestering him for something so basic, but I've come to accept to some extent that's just his style.

I'd say give it another day so it's two weeks since you first got in touch - that's a perfectly reasonable amount of time within which to at least expect a response. Then as the others have said, ask for initial feedback by a certain date/a supervision by skype or however you arrange it. Give (or even make up) a reason for asking for it by this time if you feel awkward being pushy about this, such as needing to make plans for future research or needing to arrange it around your other work or something. Good luck!