Quantity isn’t quality.

It is a lovely saturday in Canberra. Spring has finally arrived in Canberra. For me, September-November is the most beautiful part of the year in Canberra. The weather is often perfect, even if it rains. The flowers are blooming. The sun is shining on brightly.

Yet, I find myself stuck in the office for the rest of the day. I’ve just realised that I have been working on my PhD in the office on weekends rather diligently since mid last year. Well, of course, I don’t work on the PhD 24/7, since I do spend time on other things outside the PhD. Research is a very independent and lonely task. That also explains why I like spending time outside of the PhD with people not doing a PhD, or working on something else.

Am I working too much? Can I afford to work less?

I have friends outside of the PhD who claim that I need to have better time management skills, and to treat the PhD as a job. I do treat the PhD as a job, except this is one hell of a strenuous job. I may not be the most efficient, smartest or fastest worker around. But, I don’t spend time staring at my screen doing nothing either. I don’t know about the working hours of my other PhD friends. But, from what I observe, seeing them come into their offices during weekends, most of them work similar hours too. Of course, quantity isn’t quality. But, with the PhD, I beg to differ. With the PhD, I take on this view: For quality work to happen, effort and many hours of work needs to be invested.

So, for every minute spent in the office, I am either reading something, understanding some methodology, collecting/sorting data, writing and amending papers, preparing tutorial materials, or working on Matlab codes. All these tasks takes a lot of time. More often than ever, it is common for me to spend the whole day trying to understand a certain methodology yet not quite understanding it. It is also common for me to work on a code for months, yet not quite finishing it. Well, I can’t help it since I am also picking up Matlab skills along the way, coming into the PhD with zero knowledge on programming.

How else would you juggle the PhD and life then?

For me, I can’t imagine entertaining the thought of submitting my thesis sometime before the end of next year if I don’t put in the hours during the weekend.



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