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Michael J. Augustin

Here are my thoughts, for what they're worth.

First and foremost, setting a daily plan and sticking to it is very important. Figure out working when and where is ideal for you.

Second, echoing Marcus, quality trumps quantity every time. In addition, I would not worry about friends who, at their "regular jobs," work 10/11 hours days. In many ways graduate/academic work is more taxing than other occupations; 5/6 hours is all about all many of us can handle without losing our sanity. Keep in mind it's not a sprint, but a marathon, and pace yourself accordingly.

Finally, writing (or at least taking notes) each day on something that you have been reading will prove immensely helpful. Whether it's with your ability to structure your thoughts, or articulate them clearly, you'll see a benefit in this daily practice.


It's about results and output, not hours spent. It's certainly possible to get through a PhD in 4 years working 2-3hrs/day, provided that it's focused work. But that depends on a great many factors about one's working efficiency.

Go pick up this book: http://www.amazon.com/Writing-Your-Dissertation-Fifteen-Minutes/dp/080504891X and start implementing the strategies.

Honestly, after 5-6hrs of solid academic work in a day, I'm fried. There's no way I could hope to do 8-12 day in and day out. That's just not reasonable.

Just write and read every day...2-3 hours should be enough (read for 1-2, write for 1-2). My daily target is about 1500 words. Sometimes that takes me 5hrs, sometimes it takes me 1.

A good thing to do, though, is to get into the habit of treating your PhD studies like a job: clock in the same time each day (give or take), put in 2-3 solid, focused hours...take a break...then do some more work. And enjoy your nights and weekends.

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