PhD Survival Guide: How to overcome missed deadlines

To celebrate 75,000 views on dr.ofwhat, I asked what kind of content people wanted to see and this was one of the requests.

There are a lot of deadlines during a PhD. Whether these be set by you, your supervisor, candidature milestones, or journals. These various deadlines mean that there is a lot of opportunities to miss deadlines, and when this happens it is important to overcome this and get back on top of your workload.

Here are my tips.

  1. Take a minute to breath. Metaphorically (although figuratively can be useful too). Take a moment to reflect- what was the deadline, who set the deadline, why did you miss the deadline? A PhD can feel like a whirlwind, like you are constantly being pulled in all directions. Moments of reflection are important
  2. Acknowledge the missed deadline. If your deadline was set by others, e.g. your supervisor it is important that you contact them as soon as possible to acknowledge that you missed the deadline and set a time to discuss how to get back on track with them.
  3. What needs to change? During your reflection, you hopefully realised why you missed the deadline. This is important because there may be things that you need to change. For example:
    If you missed the deadline because you have too many things going on– you may need to reevaluate your work load
    If you missed the deadline because you are struggling with the tasks- you need to talk to your supervisors, tell them that you need some guidance, ask where you can find additional resources
    If you missed the deadline because you are feeling burnout- take some time off, rejuvenate. There is always time to take time off, it is just about how to organise your schedule.
  4.  Have a look at your timelines. After you have missed a deadline it can push other deadlines back also. Instead of getting into a cycle of missed deadlines, apologies, and guilt. Reevaluate the timelines and rejig them if needed.

Leave a Reply