The economic graduate student council organized a sharing session among PhD students on the challenges of doing a PhD. A few upper year students and job market candidates shared their experiences going through the PhD process. The following is some useful advice:
1. Manage your time well. Develop a regular schedule and stick to it. This will help you develop a rhythm and improve productivity.
2. When you feel there are too many things to do, list the tasks with the approximate time needed to finish them, and bundle big, time consuming ones with small, trivial ones.
3. Talk with people. Talk with your peers about research ideas, problems encountered in your work, and voice out your stress. Also, talk with your advisor(s) regularly and keep them posted about where you are. Even if you have not made a lot of progress, it is worth telling them what you have tried and failed doing.
4. Start preparing for the job market early. This includes simple things like starting your website and uploading materials. It also includes building up your ability to talk about your research in front of a broader audience. An upper year student specializing in IO also mentioned that people outside the economics department (business school, public policy, etc) can be good mentors and friends as well.
I still need to figure a lot of things out, but I’m lucky enough to be at a truly friendly and collaborative department.