PhDs have a tendency to take over a student’s life.

And they’re sneaky about it too.

At the early stages of a PhD, the initial excitement translates into a willingness to let the thesis into your life.

Gradually, often without you knowing, it takes up more and more of your time.

Until one day, perhaps in a moment of terror, you realise that you don’t in, fact, have a life outside the thesis.

Don’t worry, there’s nothing wrong with you. Instead, you did what almost all PhD students do: you accidentally married your thesis.

Because you married it, you then feel like you have to devote your entire life to it, pushing away other things that are important for a balanced life (like, say, friends, partners, or hobbies).

But instead of marrying your thesis, treat it like a bully. See it as this part of your life that is doing its best to ruin you and to make your life as difficult as possible but that, because it’s just a bully, you can keep on the periphery as an addendum to an otherwise balanced, fulfilled life. 

What does that mean in practice? It means showing up when you have to and letting it do its best to ruin you. But – and this is the crucial bit – it also means stepping away from it regularly, having clear PhD/life boundaries, not taking things too personally, and realising that your PhD is just one part of your life, not all of it. 

In short: take this weekend off. 

Good luck.


Hello, Doctor…

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