There may be dozens of reasons why your PhD project does not follow the ideal track. This page deals with some of them and aims to give you some clues how to deal with it.
Information and tips
There are certain books written that can give general but useful information and tips, for instance the book Mastering your PhD you get at the beginning of your PhD. Although maybe not every single sentence applies to you, there are certain important questions answered. Another book (although only available in Dutch) Promoveren, een wegwijzer voor de beginnend wetenschapper has useful information too. For other occasions the tips below may help you.
Simple solutions. Take a week to write an overview of what you did so far. Maybe even write it in an article/report/presentation form. This can help to find out what the next step is.
Set deadlines. Set deadlines for your research. This is not meant as a way to finish certain goals, but to evaluate whether what you are working on now, is worth pursuing further if no success is accomplished at all.
Get one-on-one meetings with your supervisor. Usually every group has weekly meetings with several people around a table. This helps to talk about your work. However, sometimes it is better to have a regular meeting with your supervisor in order to talk about how to continue your work. This is something your supervisor should always be able to help you in.
Serious problems. If you feel the problem resides in the general communication with your supervisor, tell your supervisor this in an appropriate manner. There is also the probability to get an external supervisor (either from the same group or from a different group) that can help mediate your work discussions. However, remember that this is not normal and can lead to confrontations if you rush into this. In this situation, the institute manager or director can be of great help.
Non-scientific problems. If you feel other than the above mentioned science related issues bother your progress, you may contact ‘Persons of Trust’ (also for issues of harassment, stealing or intimidation) working at the Faculty of Science (note that you are free to contact someone working at another faculty too), or the company doctor. Names are mentioned at the contact list. For issues surrounding your mental wellbeing, this page might be interesting.