PhD Life Research Methods

Time–out to reflect on the bigger picture

This post was originally published at the PhD Life blog on the 6th of Jan 2012, see here for the comments on this post.



By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.- Confucious

As the year of 2011 came to an end, so did the 1st year of my PhD. At my progress review interview in Sep, I was advised to take time out to reflect. Hence, at the end of Oct I was told by my supervisors to take a month off my normal schedule to reflect on the progress of my PhD and where I had reached so far, and what the future entails. Naturally, the idea sounded absurd to me: ‘sit and think for a WHOLE month, how can I do that? I will get bored, plus I have X and X and X to do’.

However, this ‘time-out’ was probably one of the best things I did for my PhD. It allowed me to look at the bigger picture of the PhD (it is easy to become deeply obsorbed in the nitty gritty details), outline what was going well and what wasn’t, define very clearly what the future would entail and choices after PhD, and more importantly, learn from past mistakes and experiences.

Have you taken time out to reflect on your PhD progress and direction? If so, was it beneficial?