Top Time-Killers – the ultimate, ever-expanding, all-consuming, but hopefully-not-PhD-ruining list

We’ve all been there – you’ve got some time to kill.

Maybe you’ve got a centrifuge spinning for half an hour, or you’ve got an analysis running on some huge data set, or you’re FACSing and you’ve no idea why you’ve got to hang around, or you’re waiting for some epic tiled Z-stack on the confocal, or you’re waiting for you undergraduate to fail at what ever they’re doing, or you’ve come back from lunch and you’ve got a coffee break with a friend in 15 mins. Whatever. You’ve got some time that you can’t really do anything useful in, but you need to fill it with something.

Sure, you could clean your desk. You could read a paper. You could start writing your thesis. You could go on Facebook again.

But work isn’t everything, as CCPB should know. So when you’ve got some time you need to fill whilst you’re doing some menial task, do something enjoyable. Here’s a few suggestions, some from my own experience, some recommended by friends, and some just plucked from the top of my head.

Got any good suggestions? Let’s hear them! Just post a reply in the comments box at the bottom of this page.

[DISCLAIMER – I’m not suggesting you should do this stuff instead of your actual work – just to make that clear. And please don’t get your boss angry with me, it’s you who’s reading this…]

If you’ve got ages…

Well lucky you! If iPlayer, ITVPlayer, 4OD, or Demand Five don’t take your fancy, then maybe you should go for a walk. Join Spotify and make a super-duper-all-conquering party playlist – for when you’re stuck in the labs in the evening or at the weekend. Maybe you should come up with your very own science-based music video parody, or figure out how you might dance you PhD.

If you’ve got a fair bit of time…

Plan a lab meal out and get everyone involved – send out a doodle to schedule. Or even better, set up a weekly cake day rota! If you like history, you should really check out A History Of The World In 100 Objects – the podcasts last about 12-15mins each, and each and every one is dead interesting. Have a peek at Google Sightseeing – if you’re a PhD student you’re possibly too poor to go on holiday, anyway. If you fancy expanding your pointless knowledge (arguably “reading around the subject”), head on over to Best of Wikipedia – it’s better than hitting that ‘random’ button, anyway. Enjoy and be informed by The Daily Mash. Catch up on sarcastic celebrity gossip on Hecklerspray. Have a browse through some cool tshirts at Threadless. Or maybe you should carry on reading all the wonderful articles on Coffee & Cake, Pizza & Beer? Please?

You like video games, yes? Immerse yourself in canabalt – possibly the best game in the world that involves hitting one button. Or cricket fans can face real fear of zombie Austrailians in Ashes 2 Ashes. Or ‘kick it old skool’ and destroy some cities on Rampage. But be warned: you can waste days doing this, so be careful.

Or if you’ve got someone you fancy annoying, start up a word association game via email between you and a friend and CC: you victim on to every reply whilst they’re on holiday or away on business. See if you can beat my friends’ email flood of 90 in one day.

If you’ve only got a couple of minutes…

You need something fast and easy to keep your spirits up – comics. PhD Comics’s 200 best ever, obviously. XKCD for the geek in you. Perry Bible Fellowship or Cyanide & Happiness for those with a slightly twisted sense of humour. Garfield Minus Garfield for Existentialists or Schadenfreude-addicts.

Maybe you’re a bit more sophisticated than comics, but you still like to be visually aroused. Maybe Astronomy Picture Of The Day is for you. It’s pretty awesome, much like Om Nom Nom Nom (for only slightly different reasons). Otherwise, if you’re the kind of person who secretly enjoys being annoyed by other people’s carelessness, head on over to Someone Else Will Put It Back or Photoshop Disasters and prepare to FEEL THE RAGE.

Or maybe you thrive on slightly odd yet definitely sage advice, but Lao Tzu doesn’t do it for you. Then you need Shit My Dad Says in your life, my child.

And finally, you could just make another cup of tea or coffee. Make me one whilst you’re up, yeah? Some of us have work to do…




Filed under procrastination, resources

3 responses to “Top Time-Killers – the ultimate, ever-expanding, all-consuming, but hopefully-not-PhD-ruining list

  1. Matthew Carroll

    This is dangerous. I’m going to try to forget this ever happened, so that I don’t just spend the rest of my day reading these sites. Other than Hecklerspray, of course, which I already spend about 5 minutes out of every hour on.

    And PhD Comics makes me want to die. I wouldn’t hate it as much if it weren’t for the fact that every – *every* – talk about ‘life as a PhD student’ now comes with at least one comic from it. Familiarity breeds contempt. I suggest they spice it up by drawing penises on their characters’ heads. That might make me hate it less.

    • PhD Comics, true, has become an almost obligatory part of every talk on PhDs, at least in our department. Quality is not consistent, but I think the top 200 are very good, particularly Great Tweets of Science. I guess I would rather see more original stuff like that come from PhD Comics, but it will do for now.

  2. Fiona

    Ha! I was the victim of that word association 90-email flooding 😦
    They also once managed about 25 emails of useless chat in one hour when I was at a seminar.

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