’ There is of course no single answer (we’ve all heard the stories ranging from ‘the beast that wouldn’t die’ to ‘the trailblazing prodigy who puts everyone else to shame’), and different research fields, institutions, and life experiences along the way combine to make each person’s Ph D journey unique.
Nonetheless, I want to share some numbers based on a detailed tally of where I spent my time during my Ph D.
Firstly, I don’t think it would have been possible to hurry the work and ideas much more than I did – these things just need time to a certain extent.
Ideas develop sporadically (sometimes slow and grinding, and sometimes in ‘aha moments’), and I don’t think it’s possible to ‘speed up’ the process of good ideas past a certain degree of effort and commitment.
This implies that stuff beyond your core Ph D work matters.
In fact, I firmly believe that as Ph D students we should think and act far beyond our core Ph D work, use the opportunity to develop a wide range of professional skills, and contribute to building healthier research cultures in our organisations (e.g., more collaborative, supportive, and empowering for early career researchers).
Hence I had no income for the last 3-4 months of my candidature (and afterwards).
Does this mean that I should not have done as many professional activities and finished on time?
There are big chunks of time spent on professional activities in the middle period, which included a collaborative project writing a paper with early career colleagues from across the country (over 1.5 years), and a lot of time invested into postgraduate activities and advocacy (such as trying to build a postgraduate association in my department to address a very poor organisational culture).
‘Admin and miscellaneous’ tasks were fairly constant throughout.