Universiteit Leiden

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Working effectively

Managing your brain

Have you ever felt overwhelmed by the multitude and variety of tasks that are expected of you as a PhD candidate? This workshops helps you navigate the different facets of your work. We will be looking into how your brain works and practicing methods for managing your brain.

Target group
PhD candidate
Menno Pronker

Doing a PhD entails a heterogeneous and challenging workload. You will be doing a good deal of reading, writing, and, if your work requires it, data collection, and data analysis. You will also be managing a large project, steering your research, and doing administrative duties.

Maybe you will be presenting your work at international conferences, and you might find yourself networking with the big shots in your field. And you do all these tasks while working for a demanding supervisor, without very explicit instruction on how to perform these tasks. In short, you are an independent multi-tasker. Given the variety and multitude of tasks, it is only natural to feel overwhelmed every once in a while - to the extent that you might sometimes forget what an incredibly great job you have!

This workshop offers tools to help you navigate this complex environment. You will get insight into how your brain works, and once you know how your brain works, you will have a little more influence on how to work it. You will practice different methods for managing your brain to improve your ability to manage the variety of tasks, including methods to help you relativize, tools to increase your reading speed, tools to improve your memory, and tools to structure big chunks of information.

The specific content and relative weight of different topics will be determined on the basis of the requirements of the participants. Sharing your experiences with your peers is a crucial component of this course.

For whom

PhD candidates of Leiden University and LUMC.


  • The workings of your brain
  • Tools to relativize
  • The Circles of Concern & Influence
  • Dealing with negative thinking
  • Speed-reading techniques
  • Various techniques for memorization
  • The technique of mind-mapping
  • Sharing experiences

What you'll learn

Upon completion of this course, you will have more insight into how your brain works. This helps you, in the challenging academic environment, to manage your brain, improve your efforts and maximize your qualities by also accepting your limits. What topics (tools to relativize, negative thoughts, speed-reading, memory, or mind-mapping) will receive most attention will depend on the specific requirements of the participants.


This is an interactive workshop that relies heavily on the input of the participants. The trainer will offer information and instructions on various different topics based on participant demand. Furthermore, participants will be sharing their experiences, their difficulties, and their ways to deal with these difficulties. As such, peer-to-peer feedback is an important part of this workshop.


The total workload amounts to 4 hours based on 2 hours workshop, 2 hours follow-up.

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