#1 The real cost of a PhD is not the tuition, it's what you end up paying yourself in bribes. Bribing is a very real technique for motivation. Either to get something done or to reward myself when its done. It's all a game of self-imposed deadlines and bribes. Although perhaps I should find a healthier bribe than a glass of wine :) In this case I probably should have waited until I was done reading - productivity and wine don't really mix.
#2 When you have a funding application due, expect that you will get sick. Or something else will happen to completely derail you. This is me now. Funding application open on my desktop, tissues strewed across my desk, hoping and praying that some magic fairy elf comes along and types the words on the screen for me. (Meanwhile I'm writing this blog post...you'll see why in point #3). This, of course also relates back to point #1. Perhaps if I had been better at bribing myself this application would actually have been done last week when it was supposed to have been done. So, you see, it all leads back to the bribes.
#3 You will never have been better at 'productive procrastination' in your life. I don't want to write, okay I'll read this very interesting paper that has nothing to do with my research. Cool.Or I'll write rather less productive blog posts, either way really.
#4 Repeat after me: "I read that somewhere, but now I can't remember where." You will say this a lot, most likely in supervision meetings.
#5 A loosey-goosey schedule is great. Full stop.
#6 As is having the time to learn as much as you possibly can about a topic you love. Although I think I'm having a love/hate relationship with this point right now. Do I really need to know everything? That seems like an enormous waste of precious brain resources.
#7 As evidenced by point #6, get ready to play a lot of what I call 'brain ping-pong' which goes something like this: Oh, that's cool I want to study that, oh no I don't, oh yes I do, oh no I don't. You get the point.
#8 Make best friends with your computer and your desk chair. You're going to be spending an extraordinary amount of time there.
#9 The UK system sounds really great. You are just supposed to get down to business on your research project, none of that silly coursework business and be out in 3 years. Until of course you get here and then you have to get down to business on your research project. A few laid-back courses sound great right about now!
#10 Everybody told you it would be like this, but until you experience it yourself you don't really get it. However like so many things in life, I'm hoping (dare I say expecting?) it to be worth it in in the end!