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I am PhD student finishing my first year in Computer Vision. While I take my research seriously, I was wondering what I could (or should?) do that is not research. I can think of very different things:

  • Studying related subjects that do not directly benefit my PhD as Natural Language Processing;
  • Studying completely different subjects that interest me: Finance, Chinese, Management, etc;
  • Go to the gym;
  • Sleep more;
  • Play PC games;
  • Watch movies;
  • Travel;
  • Look for jobs for after my PhD;
  • ...

So far, I have been focusing on research during the week, and if I'm tired of it during the evenings or the week-end (which is usually the case), I just rest or read a book.

Not sure if this is being lazy or having a good life-work balance, but at least I am still very motivated and things are going not too badly (I am quite close to completing the key experiences of my first paper).

So, what should I do?

  • 7
    do what thy wilt – Boaty Mcboatface Dec 15 '19 at 9:58
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    I see no way to answer this question objectively - this really depends on what gives you a good work-life balance, which is different for everyone. Perhaps you can look into what the region in which you are working in has to offer in particular? – DCTLib Dec 15 '19 at 9:58
  • Get a job as a tutor/teaching assistant at your university to get teaching experience? – nick012000 Dec 15 '19 at 11:57
  • I vote for "Studying completely different subjects that interest me". You have that opportunity now, but may not ever have it again in the future. – GEdgar Dec 15 '19 at 14:00
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    Socialize perhaps? – Jair Taylor Dec 15 '19 at 18:16
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As the comments say, do what you want.

It is your free time. There is no meed to sacrifice it to your PhD. Otherwise you might later end up feeling that you have "wasted" time, as in this question. Your research work seems to be going well, so there is also no pressure to put in more hours.

There is no need to optimize every aspect of your life. Try out those things you have mentioned, see what works out for you/what you enjoy more. We cannot make that choice for you.

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First, take care of your health. Get enough sleep and exercise. Aerobic exercise is especially good. Eat properly.

Next see to your relationships, both personal and professional. For professional relationships try to build a circle of people who might be willing to collaborate with you in the future. Conferences are good for this, but some of it can be local in a large university. Exploit your advisor's circle if possible.

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I see "go to the gym" as one of your options. I would definitely try to fit in that, or some sort of vigorous exercise program. Personally I'd go for running or brisk walking outside, as it gives one some time to think about random stuff without a lot of noise and distraction.

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    Bicycling is good, too. Favor aerobics over strength. – Buffy Dec 15 '19 at 12:35

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