The sun is shining brightly, temperatures are rising… It seems like everyone’s away a have great time on holidays and you’re stuck sweating over the keyboard. However, summer can not only be survived but also enjoyed as a PhD student.

1) Conference time!

Summer is often considered the peak of conference season and, even if you haven’t planned “proper holidays”, a few days at a conference can help you recharge (in addition to other conference perks). Oh, and summer schools, wonderful summer schools! When you’re a PhD student, it is still fairly easy to get funded to attend a programme where you will, once again, be a student and have everything organised for you. As someone who’s been on the other side of summer schools, I’m more than happy to relax and enjoy the classes and meet fellow students. It’s still not late to sign up for a later summer one.)

Reading a book at the beach
Image credits: Simon Cocks/CC BY 2.0

2) Office freedom.

Most offices are normally less crowded over summer and that often means it might be a bit more pleasant to work in too. By that I mean some non-headphone music (be considerate of other people still in the building though), making a bit of a mess and other small comforts (or is it just me who, when unrestricted, takes up on average three working spaces..?).

Also, it’s much less likely that your library books will be recalled over summer, including that one book you actually need for the chapter you’re currently writing.

3) Less distractions.

Teaching, marking, lab demonstrations, all rewarding, CV and finance-friendly activities, but they do take up a lot of time and precious mental space. Research group meetings, seminars and reading groups are likely to be on the hold as well. Therefore, summer is a great time to focus on your writing, transcription or experiments without having to worry about distractions in form of term time activities. Also, fewer people populating the departments helps on this account too, and it comes to your willpower to close the Twitter tab. Go on, you can do it! (And, if not, Shut Up & Work sessions might help ).

4) Guilt free naps and ice-cream

When temperatures get a bit higher – no, it’s not really #heatwave, most of the planet calls it summer (although, I suppose it’s understandable to confuse the two if you don’t get the latter two often), you might want to try out an alternative timetable. For example, on particularly warm days, I find it very hard to produce quality work in midday and afternoon, so I prefer to work in the morning and evening, relax or take a nap in the afternoon (naps are the best, but don’t take my word for it, visit the Napland yourself). When I’m struggling to concentrate, I try to do work that doesn’t require too much innovation, like running the analysis I’ve already designed or catching up on admin. See what works for you and gets you closer to your goals. Maybe moving outdoors could be a game-changer?

Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten about ice-cream… I honestly don’t see what’s wrong with a bit extrinsic motivation, and ice-cream probably came from PhD heaven (along with any other summer treats you might prefer… Ice coffee is a strong second on my list).


Finally, PhD or otherwise, it is summer (well, it is as I’m typing this post), so keep yourself well hydrated, sun-screened*, and refreshed by taking breaks and days off, even if just for a walk through Tocil forest or a visit to Coventry Transport Museum.

What’s your favourite thing about PhD summer? 🙂

Ana Kedveš  (@anakedves)

*And trust me on the sunscreen! (I’m sorry, it’s corny, but I had to, it’s all the graduations taking place this week… But do wear sunscreen. 🙂)