Day 26: How do you react when things go wrong in your PhD?

60:60: 60 short videos for PhD students in 60 days
See also
Beyond the obvious
time to think

It’s inevitable that things will go wrong throughout your PhD. How you react when this happens is possibly even more important than how you plan or organize your research.

Do you avoid the problem by checking email, or switch to working on something else to stay busy? Or do you slow down and take some time to think?

5 thoughts on “Day 26: How do you react when things go wrong in your PhD?”

  1. These thoughts connect to my current strategy. I have been pushing myself to be more focused recently and have a linear path instead of multi tasking so much plus working away from distraction whilst taking short breaks. Facing the fear reduces it and then the engagement is easier and when this is productive, encourages me to continue. This videos help me to stay on track and normalise the inevitable hurdles ,tackling them head on instead of running away and catastrophising. I do not think I was taking enough breaks until recently and was less productive than I am currently and I accept that some days will run smoother than others.

  2. Hi James, i really enjoy you daily videos because it gives me a new perspectives on how I deal with my own research problems. I’m a third year master’s student, and currently facing a number of problems regarding the research. When I faced a problem, I usually try my best to solve it, but if it is beyond my capability, I started to feel very bad for myself. I think that I’m not competent and lack of skills to actually solve the problem. Over the time, I feel like it leads to indecisiveness and I am unable to make good decision. What are your opinion regarding this and can you give some suggestion on how to improve the situation that I’m currently facing?

    • To develop skills, you have to start small and gradually add new levels of complexity. Often, PhD students aim too big too soon, then it’s very hard to take something big and make it smaller.

      Often, it’s best to make it as simple as possible. Focus on the tiniest, simplest of things, one at a time. what to do when your PhD project gets too big

        • Thank you for your thoughts on the problem!
          Yes, I usually try to solve the problems immediately, without really take my time to think and consider different options.

          It’s true, sometimes it’s okay to slow down and think about the research.

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