HappyPhD Course: Changes Ahead (and 50% off)

I got a message from someone on LinkedIn congratulating me on my 5 year work anniversary: it is apparently five years since I sat down and typed those first words that would develop into the HappyPhD course! Now, five years on, it is time for an update: I will soon be taking the course offline to make space for a new version.

When I wrote the course I did it straight from the heart: I had only recently finished my own PhD and all my experiences were fresh. I put every story that might be of help into the course. It is what you might call ‘authentic’. I assure you it will stay that way, but I have learnt a lot working with PhDs over the past couple of years, and it is time to incorporate these lessons into the course materials, as well as give the course a new, updated look.

Before the old morphs into new I’d like to give you the chance to get the original HappyPhD Course with a really good discount. I know that for some of you money is tight, so I hope this helps. The offer will expire this Friday the 13th of October. After that it won’t be possible to join until the new course is online. (If you sign up now, you will automatically be upgraded to the new version when it is launched…)

What course participants say about the HappyPhD Course:

The course really helped me get unstuck this summer and it was amazing how by removing the fear and self-destructive thoughts that were ruling me, I was able to write a paper (that I had been dreading for 2 years) in less than 2 weeks. The course really helped me quickly build a ‘can do’ attitude that made all the difference. The paper still needs a lot of work, but putting words on paper already felt like such a great achievement.

The course offered a good balance of explanations of why we behave in certain ways, scientific literature on why stress is detrimental and how meditation is helpful AND practical tips that can incrementally help the student build new habits.

I am very happy I took the course. It provided the regiment, the material, the motivation and I felt supported and understood every morning when I read the daily lessons. I found the course effective.

Great course Amber!

3rd year PhD Candidate, University of Oxford, England

The course has definitely helped me. I am more at peace, and I am kinder to myself, because I now realize that many of the fears and frustrations I was struggling with are inherent to the job. I allow myself to have shorter workdays, and I don’t feel as guilty about it. I am more productive in a workday that ends at 3 or 4 in the afternoon, than I was in the long days I used to work before.

4th year PhD Candidate, University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Thank you so much for the course. It has been such a great experience and I really learned a lot. I had already read a lot of books like “How to write your PhD in 15-minutes a day”, but your course has so much additional thoughts and advice which is missing in other books. It changed the approach to my PhD and I am much more relaxed and positive. I would never have thought I would start to meditate, but you made me do it and it really works and makes me feel so much better. I also like your authentic approach as your course comes from your own experience. Thank you so much for this great experience. I am already missing getting an e-mail from you almost every day :-)

Part-time PhD Candidate, Justus-Liebig University, Giessen, Germany

Check it out for yourself, and get stuck in today…purchase the course for 50 euro here

(This offer has expired. Do sign up for my newsletter and I’ll let you know when the new course is online)

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Less is More: Why Working Shorter Hours Is a Better Idea

I have just finished ‘The Slow Professor’ by Maggie Berg and Barbara Seeber. It reflects on time pressure and stress in academia, and on how academic life has sped up to such a degree that quality of research, teaching and life suffers. (It was a present from prof. Hein de Haas – do check out our ‘How to Write a PhD’ interview with his tips on productivity and self-care). At one point in the book my jaw dropped: it is the chapter on time management, where a number of books and approaches to the academic schedule are discussed. This part […]

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Your Thesis Defence: Prepare to Defend!

I like the expression ‘thesis defence’ as it captures exactly what a PhD viva is about: you are defending your work. You are not just presenting, you are defending. Like a sword fight. (A friendly one, mostly.) I attended a thesis defence last week, and it reminded me of the first thesis defence I ever went to. My supervisor had advised me to go; my colleague’s work had been very well received, and he considered her thesis a must-read. Much to his chagrin, the defence didn’t go so well. Not because she didn’t know what she was talking about, quite […]

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How Many Top Publications Do You Have? or The Curse of Performance Metrics

“I don’t really believe in citations myself. I don’t really count citations. I don’t value anybody’s work by the number of citations they have. I think it’s a mistake.” A quote by Nobel Prize winner James Heckman, uttered at an unusual panel at the 2017 American Economic Association meeting. It was titled ‘Publishing and promotion in Economics: The curse of the top five’, a reference to the top five journals dominating the Economics field. One of the anecdotes told was about graduate students endlessly deferring their ‘entry to the job market’ until they were sure of a top five publication. […]

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Life (real life) is not like that

“Your basic worry is, of course, your PhD proposal. I wonder if you have made some progress in the meanwhile. Your trouble may be that you try too hard (‘do something really groundbreaking, brilliant and fascinating’). Life (real life) is not like that. However, no matter the topic you settle on, it will develop into something interesting once you get into it. You can’t expect life as a PhD to be a bed of roses…” Quoted from a letter my LSE mentor Gordon Smith sent me in 2005 (back when we still wrote letters!). During this time I was writing […]

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How Are You Unwilling to Support Yourself? (And a story about Trump)

How are you unwilling to support yourself? Answering this question (and changing my habits accordingly) was fundamental in getting my PhD process (and much else) to a better place. The question popped up in one of my feeds: it was a timely reminder. Sometimes I feel academics wear their unwillingness to support themselves as a badge of honour: how much we endure, the long hours we work, how stressed we are, seems to somehow reinforce the idea of how ‘tough’ academia is, and how ‘tough’ we are if we can ‘handle it’. It is a little like the starving artist […]

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Worst Nightmare Scenario: Failing Your PhD (and How Not To)

Failing your PhD. How does it happen? I have recently been a remote witness of a behind-the-scenes-drama: a PhD candidate who received a rejection from an external examiner. Her supervisors had approved the thesis, but a member of the committee rejected it, rightfully so as far as I can gather, judging from the report that spans over a thirty pages of why the thesis is lacking and needs at least a year’s more work. It is a tragic situation. I can’t think of many things worse, as far as PhDs go. When I was writing my PhD I never thought […]

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Happy New Year!

Let’s start the new year right. Together. If you sign up for the HappyPhD course before January 14th, I will give the self-study course to one of your friends or colleagues as a gift. If you’re feeling generous, if you like the idea of taking the course together (or if this will allow you to take the course moneywise) this is your chance. Make 2017 your best PhD year yet! Sign yourself up here, and I will contact you to arrange the gift. All my very best wishes for the New Year, Let’s open the champagne! Amber

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‘How to write a PhD’ with Hein De Haas

Hein de Haas is Professor of Sociology at the University of Amsterdam, and the former director of the International Migration Institute at the University of Oxford. He is also a friend of mine. Almost two years ago, when I was staying in California for two months and he flew in for a conference, we sat down at Saul’s deli in Berkeley for lunch. Over chicken soup with matzo balls and latkes with apple sauce (so good!), we talked about academic writing. ‘We should do an interview!’ I said. ‘Would you?’ He would. Fast forward to present: last week we finally […]

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How to Plan Your Work

How do you plan your work? I’m always intrigued by people who schedule every project, cutting their projects into bite-size chunks, then organising them into their week. I’ve never been able to do that, and sometimes I wonder whether anybody can really tame academic work into cooperating like that?? With academic work everything always seems to take endlessly longer than you think it would. It seems frustrating to always come up short. What’s the alternative? In my experience simplifying and prioritising are what is called for, followed by implementation. It means you come up with a clear idea of what […]

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