Feel like you’re underperforming? It’s not you! (It’s the system)

Sometimes I feel like a broken record when I am talking about writing a PhD: no matter what you may be struggling with, I am likely to reply: “It’s not you!” Most PhDs at some point or another think there must be something wrong with them (this once included myself), or with what they are doing, that otherwise they wouldn’t be struggling as much. Academia is a challenging environment to perform and feel well in, most of the time. It can be a relief to realise that it is not some character flaw on your part that is causing you [...]

February 28th, 2020|

What to Do When Writing Is Hard

This blog post came about after I had to produce a piece of writing on a subject new to me. I thought I would get it done easily in a couple of days. Ehm, not so. It took me a week-and-a half before I was satisfied. And there were quite a few moments while I was writing where I thought back at my PhD, because hey I remembered this feeling! The beginning where you sit down and think: oh, this is going to be so interesting. Then when that wears off the realisation that writing an authoritative piece on a [...]

December 19th, 2019|

Should I quit my PhD? Hitting a wall and answering the big questions

Have you read Joan Bolker’s “Writing your dissertation in 15 minutes a day”? I was reminded of a passage in that book when I was talking to a PhD researcher about whether or not to continue and finish the project, or alternatively drop the whole thing and embark on something entirely different. The passage in Bolker’s book goes as follows: “There’s another kind of hitting the wall that sometimes happens to thesis writers: you feel an impossible barrier between you and the finish line, the bottom falls out of your hopefulness and ambition, and your spirits border on despair and [...]

November 17th, 2019|

Five tips to feel more in control of your PhD

PhDs are slow and slippery projects, it is not at all uncommon for them to feel completely out of control, at some or many stages of the process. Feeling in control of what you are doing may be right up there at the top of your lists of wishes and wants! Feeling a lack of control is the twin sister of feeling helpless, and the two of them are not the cheeriest of company. A few tips to help dodging them: 1. PhDs are uncertain creatures The first thing to note is that feeling a lack of control is normal, [...]

September 22nd, 2019|

New Academic Year Ahead! And New Free Mini Course

I have been working on a free mini course to help you develop excellent work habits (hello to getting those papers written!) but wanted to wait until I was sure the holidays were over. Now it is September, and the light has turned golden, and our gaze is once again firmly on our laptops. So it is time for an announcement! The ZenAcademic Worksheet (which you can find on my free resources page) now comes with a free mini course! It is an introduction to implementing the worksheet, which will help you: Create a work (and self-care) routine that is [...]

September 2nd, 2019|

Supervision Woes and Tips to Cope

Sometimes synchronicity happens. And this time it happened with a good cry. About supervision. A few weeks ago I found myself walking through the park - the Amsterdam Vondelpark (far too touristy) - in tears. This was completely unexpected: I hadn't thought about my own PhD for years. It is an awful story: my supervisor died in the last year of my PhD. He had a heart attack. And I was suddenly sad about it. Really, really sad. This hadn’t really happened before in this way, and it is 8 years ago that he died, so it completely took me [...]

July 12th, 2019|


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