All The Secrets to Succeeding in Your PhD

A PhD is a huge academic or professional undertaking and can be emotionally, mentally, and physically taxing. Succeeding and achieving your PhD can also be a massive worry for students, but luckily we have the secrets to PhD success.

These are the top secrets for succeeding in your PhD which you can implement right from the start of your doctorate. But, even if you’re here half way through, you can still use these tips to help you be the best PhD student you can be.

The Top Secrets to PhD success


It might seem basic but organisation is the biggest skill and tool that you need as a PhD student. You’ll be juggling a lot of different things at one time. Perhaps you are taking your PhD part time and also working at the same time. Or a full time PhD also entails balancing writing, researching, meetings and some PhD courses have taught sessions too.

Therefore, organisation of your time is key to stay on top of the amount of work to be completed as well as the research you need to conduct. Being organised is important to stay on track and on time with your PhD as deadlines are crucial. As a result of good organisation, you won’t be risking extending your PhD or running out of funding to finish.

Top tips to stay organised for your PhD

Use weekly and monthly timetables and set regular goals

A timetable gives you space to plan and batch your time effectively. You can schedule time for writing, time for research as well as days you have work and meetings with your supervisor. Helping you stay on top of your work and be more aware of the deadlines you have. This timetable can also help you stay on top of your research and chase people for responses for your research so you are not delayed. If you are, you can also reach out for PhD help.

Take breaks

A timetable is also helpful to ensure you schedule breaks, you can’t work all hours of the day, every day. Breaks are important to help you recharge and enjoy the process too. Equally, don’t take too many breaks and let the work creep up on you. Find a balance that works for you.

phd success

Set boundaries

Boundaries are important so that you are not overstretching and are taking on a suitable amount of work that you can handle. Additionally, boundaries mean you don’t accept extra shifts at work when you have scheduled time for your thesis.

Create writing habits

Sometimes it feels like you need motivation to write however, this is an unreliable source of inspiration. Building a writing habit helps you to get into the right frame of mind to do it even when you don’t feel motivated. A writing habit can also mean carrying around a notebook when an idea strikes you. We all know the times we have a good thought and say we will remember it and then it’s gone hours later, so take notes as much as possible!

Avoid rescheduling of meetings with your supervisors

This is essential to ensure that you are on schedule and are able to receive regular feedback. Remember your supervisors are very busy so being on time for their meetings is important for you, you might not know your next opportunity if you reschedule.

In addition, don’t leave sending your work to your supervisors right before the deadline. Sending your paper to your supervisor the night before its due isn’t going to bode well with either of you and will cause unnecessary stress. Your organisation will help you stay on top of this and allow you to send drafts two weeks before its due so there’s ample time for feedback and editing.

Take responsibility for your work

There would be no point going to a meeting with your supervisor when you haven’t progressed or done what they’ve suggested. You need to take responsibility for your own work, no one else can do it for you and your supervisor isn’t either. Although, PhD writing services could be a solution for you here. The goal of PhD is independent study so you need to be proactive in your research and in your own learning.

Ask questions

Even though you are in charge of your learning, you can’t be expected to know everything. At the end of the day, that’s why you’re doing a PhD and pursuing education, to learn! Ask questions of everyone, especially your supervisor when you don’t understand something or have burning questions to ask. You can also reach out to other experts like PhD services or your peers for help, guidance or reassurance at any stage. Asking questions and being curious is another way to be proactive in your learning.

Accept criticism

You might have one or more supervisors that will go through, review and inject their opinions on your work. These comments can be highly critical and blunt which can sometimes be a hard pill to swallow when you’ve worked so hard on your thesis. Being able to accept the criticism is going to be a strength when completing your thesis.

Understand that the critique is to help your work be the best it can be and meet the high standards that are expected at PhD level. The feedback is there to help you grow and develop so do not take them as a personal attack. Take them on board, implement and improve your thesis writing using the feedback you receive.

Be open to change and development

When starting your PhD, you can have expected outcomes of your research. However, you cannot be fixated on your expected results or the plan you initially had in mind. Your project is likely to change and develop throughout your research and your PhD is completely new research so the results can be completely different to what you expected.

Therefore, you might need to adapt where and when its needed. For example, your plan of action or schedule may need to change for any reason or you might need an extension to complete your thesis due to delays. Don’t be afraid to ask for it if you need it.

Adaptability also encourages you to be open to new ideas or suggestions that could help you overcome hurdles in your research. Your peers can provide a completely new perspective than you which can reveal new ideas and approaches you hadn’t thought of before. It is okay to change your plan.

Create community

A PhD can be lonely at times when you’re doing something completely unique to you. Although, this doesn’t mean you have to do it alone and there are other students at the university and studying the PhD program you are. Therefore, you are encouraged to get involved with them and share your experiences.

This can include social events or professional ones like conferences or presentations. This not only helps you get involved in the community but also opens you up to potential opportunities around you in the academic one.


Networking will also help in finding collaborators to help with your research. As well as, create links with potential job opportunities once you are published or other academics who can review your work so far. Presenting your research as it progresses is a good chance to practice for the final presentations of your thesis, as well as, a place to get feedback or suggestions from your peers.

The community you can create is up to you but being involved is the main part of this. Creating your own isolation can demotivate you and cause you to have doubts about why you’re doing this. Therefore, community is important for your mental and emotional health during this time for support and for fun.

Don’t forget why you’re doing this

You signed up for a PhD for a reason. The financial and time investment you are making is a huge consideration when going for a PhD in the first place. But your true motivation and inspiration for this venture is even more important. Despite all the overwhelm and stress, remembering your goal will help you to dig deep even in the toughest of times. All of the work will pay off in the end and you will be rewarded.

Let go of perfectionism

Lastly, a finished thesis is better than no thesis. Perfectionism can be the thing stopping you from starting or finishing your thesis. Honestly, it’s never going to be perfect, especially not the first time round. Letting go of the perfectionism is going to be extremely important for your PhD success. Often, writing in a flow is a great way to get words on paper and you can focus on the editing and cutting after.

You can also schedule this into your timetable. One day can focus on thesis writing and the next week can be editing. Again, the way you complete your thesis is entirely down to you and what works for you. But recognising when you are experiencing perfectionism, procrastination or doubt is key for you to overcome them and move forward in your project.

Wrapping up the secrets to PhD success

Completing and succeeding at your PhD is a long and trying road. However, applying yourself in the right ways can be what makes it a special and meaningful experience for you. Schedule your time wisely, find your personal balance and staying on time will be the most essential thing you can do. Applying yourself proactively in your research, community, and personally will propel you forwards. Helping to make your PhD journey enjoyable and successful.

Are you struggling at any stage of your thesis? PhD centre can help you stay on time, on track, and be successful. Get in contact today!