6 Tips To Manage Your PhD Successfully

student writing on board
March 2021 by


Your PhD will probably be one of the most difficult and time-consuming tasks that you ever do! Many people dream of completing their PhD, and while it’s certainly doable, it can be a lot to manage. If you’re currently undertaking your doctorate, then it’s extremely important you keep on top of it all from the beginning. So, do you want to know how to manage your PhD successfully? We’ve got all the answers – so keep on reading!

Be realistic

With anything you decide to research within your project, it’s always a good idea to set realistic expectations. This is one keyway to avoid mistakes. You’ve probably had an idea about what you thought your PhD would be like, but in reality, it could turn out to be way off your original expectations. Think 4 years is a long time? When you’re completing a PhD, it’s not really. It’ll go way faster than you could’ve ever expected, which is why you have got to get real with your ideas right away. It’s good to be ambitious, but you don’t want to feel disappointed if you can’t deliver all of your plans. You also don’t want to be scrambling your way to the finish line. No one likes a last-minute panic! Think it over properly and don’t go overboard.

Define your goals

When it comes to your project, what goals do you have in mind? Sure, completing your PhD should be one, but it’s also good to have short term goals to keep you on track too. What would you like to have done in your overall project? Is there a specific piece of research you want to dive into, or have you got a fantastic conference you wish to attend? You should have an idea in your mind of what you’re striving to achieve while you complete it. Whilst PhD’s are hard work, they can also be fun to an extent (it is what you make of it after all!). You’re researching a topic you’ve got a clear interest in, so enjoy the process. Goals are also good for motivation, which we don’t always have. If you’re struggling to find motivation during your project, this should be sure to help you out!

Start writing straight away

You might be sat there thinking, what have I got to write about? But actually, you have way more than you realise. And you will have to write a lot. That’s why getting started is the best approach, even if you don’t expect it to be any good. That’s what drafts are for, and you can always improve them if they’re not great the first time around. In fact, most usually aren’t. Keep in mind these key writing tips:

  • Keep it simple and don’t overcomplicate. It isn’t necessary; the reader wants to be able to un-derstand it after all!
  • Be concise. No one wants unnecessary detail that isn’t key to the point you’re making.
  • Inject some personality into your work. Making it personal to you will mean it’s much more appealing to write and present.
  • Use academic quotes, but don’t go overboard. There is such a thing as too much academic ref-erencing – it is your own research piece remember!

Keep up to date with your reading

If there’s anything that’s really going to take up your time, it’s reading. There are way too many books to read them all, and chances are you’ll forget about them in a short while anyway. That’s why selecting a handful is better. Ones that really take your work to the next level, not the first books you see on the shelf or in your Google search. When you find the right ones, make sure to get started on them ASAP. The sooner you’ve read them, the sooner you can move on and write about them. Don’t let literature hold you back.

Pro tip: Downloading them as e-books means you can keyword search to find areas most relevant to your work.

Communicate with your supervisor

One person is specifically there to help you with your PhD and it’s your supervisor. Which is why it’s a good idea to get them onside from the beginning, right? Don’t be afraid to ask them all of your questions, even if they seem stupid because, let’s be honest, there’s probably no question they haven’t already been asked. You should also be sending your drafts to them for feedback. It’s good to set expectations with them, so you know when it is the best time to send your work in too. Surprisingly, it’s actually your supervisor who will make decisions on a lot of your work, so their opinion is vital. It’s always up to them, so it’s a good idea to build a bond that you can rely on.

Prepare to present

Presentations are one thing you will have to conquer during your PhD, unfortunately. That’s why preparation is vital. If you really want to master the process, then there are a few things you need to keep in mind:

Know your audience inside out – Especially if your topic is a niche one, you need to understand how much your audience knows already. You might have to explain a little more in your introduc-tion if they don’t know a lot. Its details like this are important for planning. When you’re present-ing, make sure to hold eye contact with your audience. It’ll suggest you’re confident and it’ll make the audience feel included.

Be observant – It always helps to observe other people. If their presentation is successful, what is it that they are doing right? There’s nothing wrong with taking some pointers from other people. If it’s going to improve your presentation or make it easier, then it’s definitely worth it!

Calm your nerves – Everyone gets nervous presenting whether they say so or not. To help with this, practising your presentation is helpful. Run through it a few times in front of the mirror or to family and friends – this will definitely help build your confidence. It’s always said, you don’t want to just be reading off of a screen. By memorising your content, your preparation won’t go unnoticed!

Practice and preparation are always crucial. It might be scary, but it’s not as bad as it seems, and it’ll all be over before you know it!

Now, we hope these top tips will help you to manage your PhD successfully. Remember, start ear-ly and then you’ll have less to worry about further down the line. We wish you the best of luck! If you ever need any help, whether it be a direct chapter, analysis or collating research. We can help! Check out our services by clicking here.

Have you got any other tips that you can recommend? Let us know in the comments below.



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