Cross-Eyed PhD: Memoirs of a PhD Survivor..Tip1 (The PhD Calendar)

                                                                                                                                               “Piled High and Deep”,, by Jorge Cham

Tip 1. The PhD Calendar (Version n, n-> infinity)…

It happened finally. I completed my PhD last month with a successful viva and several peer-reviewed papers in the subject of my specialization – the Solar PV consumer dynamics in India.

The journey was fun – with its moments of trials and tribulations. But the result and the resulting announcement on the social media netted me close to 10000 views. In the excitement, I have committed myself to writing a small blog series on the journey covering what worked -and what did not. It will definitely have a few tips & I will also share a few tricks that sped me up the path – and a few traps that many of us fall into.

As the above comic strip captures, procrastination was a key devil to watch out for. How does a project get delayed by a year -or even two?! Answer is – one day at a time!!

As a working professional with several official responsibilities, it was always the easy path to kick the thesis ‘can’ down the road. I guess I was saved by a simple message from my guide, Prof Asif Ali Syed, in his first session with me. It was a clear message – I was not to write my thesis in the 48th month of my PhD tenure. It had to be written and progressed every month and the results to be shared vs a planned calendar in the quarterly review.

In the first tip of this experience, I am sharing the calendar and guide meeting review template that I had made and used in the attachment.

By and large I met to the calendar in the first 1.5 years of the study – the intro chapter, the literature review, the research concept were reasonably on track. However, once I got nominated as the Chair for India Electronics and Semiconductor Association, it brought an overhead which coupled with my daughter’s marriage quickly set me back.  Fact is, that thru ’17 I prioritized official and IESA work over the PhD commit which slowed down.

The original calendar had shared that I could complete my PhD in approx 2.5 years – but it just had to be revised.The revised calendar (also shared in the attached download) anchored fresh dates – and this time I stuck to the grind.

While Prof Asif publicly acknowledges that I had shown commit to the calendar, I guess he was surprised when I informed him in end July 18 that I had completed the thesis ( there were several iterations to the document even after that but the fact is that the key work was completed as per the revised schedule version 2).

Fact is, nearly 8-10,000 applicants file in their nomination for the PhD course at AIMA and they select 75 nos per year in two batches – from these 150 nos, about 40-50 are selected for the PhD program basis their research synopsis post the first year preparatory course. And of this, about a dozen of us become a PhD.

I have come across a number of my batchmates in PhD who dropped off along the way. In all frankness, they were all brilliant people who had made to the 2% successful selected candidate base of PhD applicants. They were just not committed enough to see their PhD thru.

Key message – there is no ‘shortcut’ for an earned PhD – and it is best to start now on the journey of discovery then to meander and lose direction. Success is not a moment of brilliance but a steady, committed weekend of work, week-after-week across the PhD years!

Download my PhD guide log here-you get (log samples, template & target calendar)!

   PhDGuideLog Ashwini

My Phd Calendar was pinned on my room softboard facing me thru my PhD – and avoiding procrastination was one of the key learnings of my PhD!

And here are some more of my favorite procrastination quotes to move you…

Image result for procrastination quotesImage result for procrastination quotes



Hope you find this useful -watch out for more PhD tips, tricks and trap inputs from the journey of this cross-eyed PhD!


4 Responses

  1. Pallasena Viswanath

    Thanks a lot for sharing your learning. There are educated ones and then learned ones. The learned ones are the venerable ones who earn their venerabilty through sharing their learnings and making others successful

    • Ashwini Aggarwal

      Appreciate your thought. My PhD journey is also to inspire my children to move beyond the conventional MBA degrees -and to develop a culture of continuous learning. Hope it lights the way for many more…

  2. Congrats Ashwini! Please spread your knowledge for the betterment of human life! Regards.Ravichandran R