In the final stages of their studies, many students replace lab or fieldwork sessions with intense thesis writing at their office desk, library or home. After two weeks of thesis writing, Megan from #DailyPhD shared her experience of this process…

As week two of thesis writing begins I thought I’d open with an update of how I’m feeling about the whole thing.

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Things I LOVE about thesis writing

1) No commuting – For me my commute is short, 10 mins on the train, along with some walking either side it’s only a total of 30 mins, but it’s still really quite nice to get that time back.

2) A leisurely breakfast – I’m absolutely loving having a bit more time in the morning. If I miss my train in the morning I’m waiting another 30-60 mins which means I’m quite often running out the door to make sure that doesn’t happen. Sometimes I even have to throw my breakfast in a Tupperware and take it with me on the train🙂

3) Generally feeling on top of life – Over the weekend our outside drain blocked (no biggie, easily fixed) and I had to call a lovely, local company out to fix it. Being able to ring them and say “come whenever, I work from home” makes things amazingly easy and they came to fix it straight away.

4) Good lunches – Lunch has always been my least favourite meal. I try to be healthy and take my own to work but this means I often make a batch, and by Thursday/Friday I’m bored of it. Now I can make whatever I fancy, fresh, healthy and different (or not) everyday.

5) Productive days feel really good – On the days where I hit my writing goal I feel amazing. Like I’m some kind of PhD writing Goddess. I’m not stressing about whether or not those words are perfect yet, instead I’m getting them down. Editing can happen later. As many a Pinterest inspirational writing quote says, you can’t edit a blank page.

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Things I’m really NOT ENJOYING about thesis writing

1) When I have to go to the lab – I don’t hate the lab, but I do hate writing after going to the lab. For me the train ride home has always been a way to switch off and leave work at work. Now that balance has been disrupted. It’s hard to change a routine that’s been ingrained for 3 years.

2) Not having everything immediately available – I mostly mean computer programmes, I have everything set up on my work computer just as I need it. On my personal laptop I’m still in the process of acquiring what I need.

3) The university doesn’t support Dropbox/GoogleDrive/OneDrive – Well actually it does support OneDrive, but only for Undergraduates. Post-Grads are deemed too likely to hold sensitive data. There is an alternative system I can use to log into my work files remotely but it’s clunky and doesn’t allow me to open documents as if they were saved on my hard drive. Instead I’ve had to shift everything onto an external hard drive so I have access at home. Having to do is one of the most compelling arguments for writing in my work office rather than at home. It also took a ridiculously long time to do.

4) Unproductive days feel a bit pants – when you aren’t as productive as you hope it can be a bit of a blow. To tackle this I’m setting myself weekly writing goals rather than daily. This means I can have a bad day but still have a good week. It also means I can take into account the days I’m still spending in the lab.

On the whole I’m feeling good, I already have several thousand words and a few figures under my belt. I have already found a few things to repeat though so it definitely isn’t all smooth sailing.

Photo and text credits: This post was originally published on Daily Life of a PhD, a blog run by Megan De Ste Croix.

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I’m a Bioscience PhD student at the University of Leicester trying to live a balanced life. This is my honest and hopefully daily update of what it’s really like to be a PhD student – days in the lab, days at the computer and days off. I can’t promise I won’t miss the odd day but my aim is to post as close to every day as I can. I also blog for the University of Leicester http://studentblogs.le.ac.uk/genetics/author/megan/