11 things I learnt from my Masters to help my PhD

1. Have a schedule and a timetable.

2. Make detailed list of things to do, and tick them off. Create precise and manageable goals. Rather than, ‘write chapter 3’, plan to finish the first paragraph by 11am, with these bullet points to cover… It doesn’t matter if it takes slightly more time; having small manageable deadlines will make me work much better!

3. Have scheduled breaks and make the most of them.

4. Go somewhere to work: go to the library by 9am. Have a library crawl (one page written in each library) if necessary!

5. Have Sundays off to do my own thing: whether’s it’s music, listening to new stuff, blogging about my own thing, reading, etc.

6. If I’m feeling uninspired, take a 20 minute break in a coffee shop with an espresso, then make a new plan, and get back into it. Don’t pretend to be working when you’re actually just checking Facebook, or staring blankly at a page, and three hours later you’re still doing nothing.


ย Some books tied with string in the Bodleian…

7. Make sure I’m comfortable where I’m working. Get the desk-to-chair ratio right. For example: the Duke Humfrey’s reading room in the Old Bod is beautiful, but the tables are too high for the chairs! The Gladstone Link looks like an underground set from Doctor Who, but the chairs are the right height and shape for the tables. Working with neck ache and back ache is just going to make things harder.

8. Plan lunch and meals in advance, or you end up eating dry cereal at 10pm wondering how you’ve become a cat lady prematurely when you don’t have any cats, or even like cats, and are only 22.

9. Make time for yourself to get away from your work. Little breaks help work productivity in the long run.

10. Have regular chats with people, or you’ll end up crazy, irrational, and unmotivated. Loneliness kills creativity!

11. Although I’m interested in my topic now, two years down the line I probably won’t be. Have small academic goals to focus on, to encourage research: publishing a paper, giving a talk, etc. Get motivated.

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