I'll be starting my PhD in the next fall. I already looked over the internet for advice for a beginner, even read two books on the subjects. Still, there is one point I haven't seen discussed as I wanted, it's the time and the way the student should be investing in catching up on his field and his specific topic, I'm speaking about the bibliographic part. For sure a student needs a lot of (continuous) input, but at the end he'll be solely judged on his output. From my previous research project, I'm not really confident in my way of balancing between going through articles/textbook material and trying to solve my own problematics. To be honest, it sometimes feels like a sneaky way of procrastinating: I'd tell myself that I'm still not ready to tackle my problem and that I need to make a little "detour" by existing works; and when it's done I don't feel more at ease to answer my questions. Or is it a normal aspect of research?
In my specific case, I'll be working on a quite new subject (string theory) when I only had advanced lecture of quantum field theory and general relativity; so I'm thinking about going through the canonical textbook on the subject during the summer, do most of the exercises and derivations in there (which already represents hundreds of hours invested), maybe revising some mathematical tools I need to be really familiar with. Once I'll have a general idea of the topic I'll jump to the main articles in relation to my thesis. I also know that I will be using numerical tools (Monte Carlo methods) and will need to get conformable with that. So far I only have a superficial knowledge and use of the tool. Does it seem like a good use of my time? I already know that time and willpower are limited resources in grad school and I really don't want my desire to do well to burn me out from the beginning.