about youA PhD is a marathon, not a sprint

Some time ago, I conducted a workshop for the PhD candidates at Amsterdam Movement Sciences. The workshop was titled ‘Taking the Helm: Strategic Leadership and Feedback Tactics for PhD Students’.


Take Charge of Your PhD Journey

We discussed how to take charge of your PhD journey, emphasising that the most crucial ingredient is to focus on the PhD process itself. How do you approach finishing a PhD? How do you formulate a plan? How do you collaborate effectively with your supervisor? How do you handle the writing? How do you ensure you receive the feedback you need? How do you stay motivated? How do you manage not to get overwhelmed?

Taking control of the process is the key to completing your PhD successfully and on time.

One topic we covered during the workshop was the constant sense of stress that can plague PhD students. You’re never truly finished; there’s always something else to do: an article to read, an analysis to complete, writing, creating presentations, programming. A bit of stress isn’t necessarily harmful, but too much stress can indeed be damaging.


A PhD is never finished, be aware of that.

Ever Feel Like You’re Never Done?

As a self-employed entrepreneur, I’m all too familiar with the feeling of never being done. The work never stops; there’s always something that seems to need attention. Before you know it, you’re working long hours, feeling guilty when you do take a break, hesitant to take time off, and feeling like you’re not doing enough.

And that guilt can grow – if left unchecked – especially after a break or if for any reason you can devote less time to work than usual.

Sound familiar?

A Golden Tip from a Participant

“Realise that you’re never finished. Your work is never completely done; there’s always something that can be improved or added. You can always do more. Don’t let this thought dictate your daily routine. Plan realistic workdays, head home at 5:00 PM knowing that you’re not done, and simply continue where you left off the next day.”


What Can You Do?

Almost every component of your PhD is too large to complete in a single day.

  1. Break your work into very small pieces that you can accomplish in one day. Planning  is a crucial skill, but time management is actually nonsense for PhD students.
  2. Structure your day well, ensuring there’s room for deep work as Cal Newport describes, and focus on your energy levels.
  3. Keep making progress, just a little bit every day.


A PhD is a marathon, not a sprint


It’s okay not to be finished. It’s part of the process! Learning to cope effectively is essential. Remember: earning a PhD is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s okay not to always see the finish line, as long as you keep moving.

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