If a PhD is a job (which it is), then treat it like one.

I am sure that you, like me, have said to multiple people during your thesis experience that “My PhD is a job” or “I am going to work”.

As PhD students we are so quick to defensively argue that our PhD is a job, but many of us are much less likely to actually treat it like one.

We will easily work 50-60 hours a week (without over time benefits), work weekends, work through lunch breaks, and not take time off over the holiday periods.

This is in part, is because if we want our PhD to get done we do have to work long hours. Also, we do get benefits of not treating our PhD like a real job, including taking a day off or working from home without approval.


However, I think we need to all try to incorporate the important aspects of a job into our PhD experience.

Including, the idea of TOIL (time off in lieu). Meaning that if we have a really productive week we can have a guilt free weekend off or even an hour sleep in on a Monday.

Another important thing is to try to leave your work at work, which is definitely a harder task for PhD students because we live and breathe our thesis, but we can try to separate work from home. Maybe try getting changed as soon as you get home. Or if you are working from home, walk out your front door and back in when ‘work time’ is over.

And one final last little thing to try to integrate is having a lunch break! I, like many of us I’m sure, do sometimes work through lunch and eat at my desk. But I try to take at least three lunch breaks away from my desk a week. The break refreshes you, and your entitled to it.


  1. Thanks for this, it makes me feel a lot better! I’ve been really struggling to switch off recently and feel a permanent sense of guilt anytime I do have a day off to see friends/family. It’s also been compounded by me working other jobs/volunteering and it’s really difficult to balance making sure I get everything done whilst not burning out. From now on I’m going to make an effort to stop feeling terrible every time I need a break!

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