As the semester begins graduate students, like the undergraduates, get back to work. The difference is the grad students probably didn’t take much of a break from working during the week universities close between fall and winter semesters. This is all because of simple grad school math because for grad students time is the prime currency.
Hours in a Week: 24×7=168hrs
Optimal hours of sleep: 8×7=56hrs
TA/RA work: 6-12hrs
Committee-type work: 3-6hrs
P/T Work: 12-20hrs
Min. life (meals, socializing, exercise): 18hrs (6hrs for each)
Dissertation: Whatever is left over. [168-56=112-(12+6+20)=74-18=56]
SO under ideal conditions you have 56 hours a week to work on your dissertation. The formula works out differently for each graduate student as not all have to TA or work part-time, but many teach and rarely will you find a grad student who gets more than 6 hours of sleep most nights.
56 is my magic dissertation number. Everyone’s number is different and rarely can we actually devote that number of hours to our dissertations.
The reality of this like exercise in arithmetic is while a grad student has around 56 hours a week to work on their dissertation those hours are quickly whittled away by life in general. What is amazing about the number at the end of my little equation is how much grad students get done in those hours. It is even more amazing when you consider that increasingly the dissertation is a second job to the paid jobs done to afford to go to graduate school (this is often even true of the handful of students with major external funding).
Do your math and find your magic number. Post it in the comments and we will see what kind of work load grad students are putting in.
Then take a listen to some Los Campesinos!