Monday, 23 January 2012

Thinking Days

For me, sun breaking through clouds is a pretty apt metaphor for thought; especially about a PhD.

I know a lot of people feel anxious at the thought of having a day in the office - or wherever you work - not doing researchy/PhD stuff. Or at least not anything that's directly related. It must be said of course that there are some (though relatively few) who go in the opposite direction and have too many of these abstract-type days.

Personally, I like to label these my 'thinking days'. The type of day where you don't always code or analyse or do stats or write. You prepare a lot of things. For example, today I have printed at least 20 papers in an effort to create a To-Read pile. (I have discovered having a physical pile is the only thing that will inspire me to read, and to do it properly. Sorry trees). I've done the little niggly things on my to-do list that don't take a huge amount of time but I routinely never get around to. So, I've sorted out my log in for the university's experiment sign up website, emailed a Magic Society to both advertise my research and ask for participants and I've brought together a few academic targets for the next twelve weeks.

Amongst all these everyday tasks, I feel I've had a few insights about my research. Allowing my brain free reign whilst doing things that don't require any cognitive power has resulted in a good couple of Ah hah! moments. This has had the added benefit of remotivating me and getting me eager to push on through the endless coding to get reading so I can write up and go for the next one.

So, however you feel about thinking days, I'm pretty positive about them. Not to be confused with just "days where you do nothing" of course, but a productive thinking day can leave you feeling pretty "Woot!" :)


  1. I think it depends on the context to why not doing research. If, for example, it's a day you planned to do research and then got distracted by unimportant stuff, like commenting on blog posts lol then perhaps is something to be anxious about. On the other hand, one could argue that it's a good idea to have more than just the phd going on. And of course nothing wrong with taking a good break from research - in fact, very recommended.

  2. I agree. Like I said - if thinking days happen too often it really is bad! But the reason I wanted to write about this is because I see a lot of fellow PhD students really getting panicked if they end up having an admin day; and these are top-class students. They're not going to go off track from one day.

    It's an interesting topic - I might come back to it later on. Thanks for your comment.