I thought it might be fun to do a blog post about what my days as a first year PhD student entail. This will let other PhD students compare and see if our days vary depending on our topic or time points, give non-PhD students a glimpse into what PhD students really do and maybe inspire more future doctors (or show you that it is definitely not for you!), and show my family (many of which are loyal readers) what I actually get up to at ‘work’. What better day to do this than the first Monday of the month… my idea is that I will do one each month to show (…well hopefully show) the diverse activities PhD students get up to.
7:00am- I woke up when my boyfriend’s alarm went off, in a surprisingly good mood for a Monday morning (although I have previously said I am a morning person, cold Monday mornings can often be an exception). I laid in bed scrolling through my phone for about 10 minutes before getting the courage to remove the blanket. Another day, another dollar, as they say!
8:09am- I just got to uni, the first one at my office as usual- which I don’t mind as I can go about my morning routine peacefully. I made my coffee, breakfast (which today was toast), opened up my diary to this week’s to-do list (ahhhhh almost a full page already!) and eased into the day (and week) by checking emails… testing my self-control by avoiding the clothes sales and travel idea emails.
9:12am- I am editing my PhD proposal. I have highlighted the sections that need to be altered and are slowly working through them. The last couple of drafts are always the hardest I think, I have already read this proposal too many times to count so maintaining motivation for these last few is trying. I also feel like it is very close to being second coffee time.
10:10am- I finally gave in and got my second coffee and then started snacking on a delicious ‘popcorn muesli bar’ (yes they exist). In terms of work I have crossed two things of my to-do list so far and am still working through editing my proposal. Both of my office pals have other commitments this morning so it is just me in the office. I also just booked another weekend away for August- including a whale watching tour (eeeeek! Fingers crossed the whales will make an appearance).
11:05am- The joys of fixing references. I do generally use Endnote referencing software but have a love-hate relationship with the sneaky program. Due to some errors in the reference list (Endnote’s fault- not mine!) I am putting all my new references in manually. It is one of those tedious tasks that stays on my to-do list for way too long. I am finally getting it done to cross it off!
12:15pm- Reading, reading and more reading. Reading journal articles is how I spend a large amount of my time- particularly as I am in first year and need to determine the type of research that has been done. Annoyingly, I read the wrong journal article on Friday (there were two by the same author) so I am now catching up and reading the one my supervisor gave to me.
1:44pm- Lunch break, just finished reading that article and my stomach was rumbling. Also had a break and scrolled aimlessly through Facebook, answered a few emails and had a good chat with one of my office pals. Now back to work.
2:51pm- I finished updating my references and am now back to editing the content of my proposal. As you can tell I like to mix up my tasks throughout the day to try to maximise my productivity. I find that if I read my work for too long without a break I am not actually processing the words rather just skimming over them which is not at all ideal when editing. I am also craving another hot drink (non-caffeinated this time) but the sink that I need to use to wash my mug is in a different building meaning I have to leave my warm office and venture into the 11 degree rainy outside weather… not appealing.
4:00pm- I am in the car just about to leave uni, but my tasks for the day are not over yet. I have a citizen science meeting to attend.
4:36pm- Okay, so you can judge me- I just had my third coffee for the day (I promise this is not a usual habit). I needed to get petrol, and the petrol station has delicious coffee, and it is still 11 degrees outside, and I have to go into the city for that meeting, and… I think that is enough justification.
7:02pm- Just finished up the citizen science meeting, it was really great to meet other like-minded people and discuss a variety of citizen science projects. I am now walking to my car and it is genuinely freezing, I don’t think it has stopped raining for hours. I am on-route to bed to watch 20 to 1. The 4th of July is over.
Thank you for showing us the reality of PhD life 🙂