If you absolutely must do a PhD, here are some tried-and-tested tips from The Experts...*
- Live somewhere nice if possible, preferably with someone who likes you and who thinks that you doing a PhD is a good idea.
- Get a gym membership. Join a dance class or football team. Commit a good chunk of your income to enjoying some quality exercise and leisure time. Commit another sizeable chunk of your income to buying good quality food. THIS ONE IS A NON-NEGOTIABLE; you must do this or you risk getting depressed. Commit yourself to forking out some money every month to work out/ dance/ play/ whatever it is that you love doing, and that gets the blood pumping.
- Go to your University's webpages and type in 'Student Counselling Services'. Find out their phone number and email address, and write it down in your phone. Read the bit of the webpage that tells you how to go about seeking help from them if you end up in any kind of trouble. You'll probably forget it all, but it doesn't hurt to have a look and quietly internalize this information. Keep the number handy, just in case.
- Buy and read 'The Now Habit: A Strategic Program for Overcoming Procrastination and Enjoying Guilt-Free Play' by Neil Fiore. Do what it says. Reread again in six months' time. (I recommend having it on your Kindle and dipping into it now and again.)
- Read 'Stop Worrying, Start Living' by Dale Carnegie, which you can access here: http://www.trans4mind.com/Carnagie.pdf . Do what it says. Bookmark it on your browser, read it when you find yourself with spare time in libraries and on trains.
- Buy and read 'Writing your Dissertation in Fifteen Minutes a Day' by Joan Bolker. Do what it says. This book is handy when you are just starting out, but just as handy when you are near the finishing line.
- Be nice to yourself, and be nice to your PhD. Don't say things like 'this stupid PhD'. Respect it. Be grateful for the fact that you can do a PhD at all.
- Tell yourself that you are amazing and that you wouldn't have got this far if you didn't have some pretty special gifts.
- Start a blog where you recount all your latest PhD exploits. Tell no-one.
[*The Experts - just me, actually.]