October 18, 2017, by Agata

5 ways to stay motivated during your PhD!

Let’s say you are in the middle of your PhD… Fresher’s motivation is already gone for a long time: experiments have become being boring/repeatable/monotonic OR you do not go well with your lab mates OR your supervisor has decided to move to another country (like mine this year!) or you just have some personal issues … These all reasons and probably many more can have a serious impact on your motivation to work on your PhD!

As I personally struggled with that issue as well I decided to write how I tried to overcome that problem and focus back on my PhD. I hope somebody will find it useful! ?

1. Talk:

Most of the PhD students experience at some point similar problem with effectiveness in the lab. Frustration/demotivation is very common among PhD students. Unfortunately, not everyone is able to talk about it easily. Try to do the first step then. Maybe your colleague working at the bench next to you has exactly the same problem. You can help each other! For example, set up a time when you both come to the lab, make a bet who is going to be on time, go together for a coffee break… Maybe you will find a new motivation and … a new friend! ?

2. Start a new type of experiment:

I think most of us know the exciting feeling of trying something new! In science (especially in life sciences), working on a new technique is quite exciting as you learn new skills and improve your project. At the beginning, it can be frustrating as well, as first experiments usually fail, but once optimised give you a bit of fresh look at your project. That definitely can motivate you to work more on it ?

3. Exercise:

Sometimes I think working out is a medicine for most of the problems! Physical activity makes you being focused on exercises, giving you a break from your PhD. Physical activity helps you to get rid of negative emotions and gives you endorphins! Finished work out session gives you a feeling of the completed task and being ready to start a new one … tomorrow in the lab. Jogging, fitness, yoga, football… you have so much choice! You definitely should try! ?

4. Do science communication:

Probably you know also this feeling: you are in the lab seeing your lab mates being in the middle of (in your opinion) some super important experiment. In the meantime, you are doing some optimization which probably will not work anyway. Yes? I know this feeling! I had thoughts that all I do in the lab is so useless. However, after a while, I realized that what for me seems to be useless for somebody else may look very interesting and very cool! That is why I started to do science communication! And THIS is what kept me being motivated to work in the lab… After I started to take pictures of my PhD routine and post it on my Instagram/Facebook/blog I realized it IS interesting for other people: including scientists and non-scientists! ? I started my blog and science communication two months before I learnt that my supervisor is going to move to another country. I think at some point SciComm was the only reason I was coming to the lab to do an experiment! Wow, thanks for it! ?

5. Think about life after PhD:

Days, weeks, months are passing. You are closer to the end of your PhD than to the start ? Take a deep breath and think for a moment… Why have you decided to do a PhD? What was your motivation when you applied to your current lab for that particular PhD project? Was it required for your dream job? What do you want to do after completing your PhD? How do you think you will feel in the day of graduation? Think of these feelings…


I hope now you feel better about going to the lab tomorrow to fight for your PhD?

If you want to learn more about PhD daily life check my Instagram profile: @beascientist_ and … enjoy!


Posted in Agata