Your PhD journey is broken down into a number of distinct milestones. At any one time you might be focusing on completing a chapter, finishing fieldwork, designing an experiment or finishing an end of year review. 
 
Each of these milestones is a significant piece of work in its own right, and each is utterly overwhelming. 
 
Often, we have a tendency to approach these big tasks as one distinct piece of work. A huge piece of work. And then we feel overwhelmed. 
 
If one of the things on your to-do list is simply ’write lit review’ it’s only natural that you’ll freak out every time you sit down to tackle it. 
 
A more helpful way of working is to break these big projects down into as many smaller chunks as possible. Then, include those smaller chunks on your to-do list instead. Each big job has a large number of smaller moving parts. That’s why we get overwhelmed when we see ‘write lit review’ on our to do list – we aren’t able to process where to begin, and we aren’t able to fully comprehend the order in which we should work. 
 
By breaking down big tasks into much smaller chunks, they’re all more manageable. We’re able to see the logical order in which to work, and we’re able to see the wood through the trees.
 
So the next time you find yourself procrastinating and putting off the big tasks, ask yourself if you’re overwhelmed at the scale of them and whether you can break them down.  
 
 
 
 
 

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