Posts Tagged ‘dissertation coach’
Posted in children, demands, dissertation coach, distractions, family, planning, productivity, resources, self-sabotage, strategies, writing, writing schedule, tagged dissertation, dissertation coach, distraction-free writing space, summer camp for writing, summer writing, writers' retreat, writing on May 30, 2012 | 1 Comment »
Posted in academic, accountability, advisor, children, choice, deadline, demands, dissertation advisors, dissertation coach, dissertation writing, distractions, email, exercise, family, finishing the dissertation, focus, getting started, goals, grading, habit, perfectionism, perseverance, planning, productivity, reasons for not writing, relationships, research, restart writing, restarting, self-care, showing up, strategies, success, take charge, time management, time theft, writing schedule, writing to a deadline, writing, dissertation, tagged dissertation coach, dissertation writing, make time to write, meeting a deadline, meeting goals, planning to write, planning writing session, protect your time, schedule, showing up, Stephen Covey, time management, what's important in your writing life on April 23, 2012 | Leave a Comment »
Not too long ago, when my adult son mentioned how busy his work and life have become, my husband was reminded of an annual planning session he had attended at which a facilitator presented a workshop on how to organize your time.
As my husband drew a diagram from that workshop, I realized that he was drawing time management guru Stephen Covey‘s famous matrix.
Stephen Covey’s Matrix
Stephen Covey groups the ways we spend our time into four quadrants:
–1-important and urgent
–2-important and not urgent
–3-not important and urgent
–4-not important and not urgent
As my husband drew the diagram, he said, “The facilitator said you should attend immediately and with personal involvement to Quadrant I matters.” The facilitator’s words about urgent matters resonated with my husband because he always has more work than he can get done. Everything is urgent.
Everything is urgent
In your life, as an academic, ABD, dissertator, professional writer—does that sound familiar? You’re grading papers, attending meetings, preparing classes or presentations, returning email, managing crises at home, and trying to keep up with all that keeps hitting you. As you rush frantically and lose sleep, you also try to engage in last-minute binge writing of your dissertation before the time you told your advisor you would be submitting your promised work.
Not only had my husband remembered clearly what the facilitator said is assigned to Quadrant I– the urgent and important matters, but he also clearly remembered those matters in Quadrant IV. The facilitator said that Quadrant IV contains matters that you could basically forget about or things headed for the “circular file.” In other contexts, Quadrant IV could include behaviors such as vegging out in front of the TV or hanging out at Facebook.
So that’s Quadrant I and IV. What about Quadrant II? Important but NOT urgent matters would go in Quadrant II.
Not surprisingly, my husband said that had forgotten what the facilitator said specifically about Quadrants II. That’s probably because my husband, like so many of us, has to focus on urgent matters. The stuff that never stops.
What you need to meet your goals
What are the important matters contained in Quadrant II and why should we care? Take a look at what matters are in Quadrant II:
People who most often meet their goals do more planning, organizing, and anticipating. They work efficiently and productively, avoiding last-minute sprints in order to meet impending deadlines, and they honor goals of a healthy lifestyle and close relationships.
While you might be able to avoid some of the distractions and time-wasters of Quadrants III and IV, how do you ignore the unrelenting onslaught of urgent demands of Quadrant I so that you can spend more time with the important matters of Quadrant II?
Controlling what’s urgent
Not everything is an emergency, and we can take steps to stay out-of-the-way of things that appear urgent. Whenever possible, avoid email, particularly before or during a writing session. Avoid such additions to your workload as more volunteering, carpooling, office projects when the work really isn’t your responsibility, and perfectionism that can lead to unwarranted revision and research on your writing project.
Let people know that you are turning off your email and phone during the time you are writing. That would be a bold, but empowering step, wouldn’t it?
10 tips that will move you closer to your writing goal
Here are more tips that will help you increase your focus on what is important and also help you move closer to your writing goal:
–Anticipate future demands and activities. Plan, plan, plan.
–Make your schedule and stick to it.
–Plan do-able, timely deadlines which you meet. Such a plan results in productivity.
–Prepare so that when you sit down to write, your subconscious has had time to work on the ideas.
–Include physical exercise in your life. (Check out previous blogs and upcoming blogs on the importance of exercise to your writing life.)
–Break out the outlines. If you don’t have an outline, make one. Have an outline in place to guide your writing session.
–Routinely, daily, go to a quiet place to write and to plan the next day’s writing.
–Set up an accountability factor. Ask your friends if you can mail them a chapter and then tell them when you will mail it.
–Email your coach with frequent updates on daily writing sessions.
–Keep an eye on productivity—it’s under your control.
It might be a small problem for you to push aside something seemingly urgent in order to plan and schedule writing sessions, but if you don’t do that, you’ll have the big problem of not producing text because you are running around as if your hair is on fire.
Your hair isn’t on fire. Slow down, plan, and show up to write.
In the March issue of my newsletter Smart Tips for Writers, I wrote about Stephen Covey’s “Big Rocks” and how that strategy relates to your dissertation. Let me know if that issue never arrived in your inbox. If you aren’t signed up for my newsletter, you can take care of that at my website at www.nancywhichard.com.
I’d love to hear your ideas on urgent vs. important matters and how they impact your writing.
Best to you,
NancyNancy Whichard, Ph.D., PCC Your International Dissertation Coach and Academic Career Coach www.smarttipsforwriters.com www.dissertationbootcamp.net www.nancywhichard.com nancy @ nancywhichard.com
Posted in accountability, boundaries, commitment, determination, dissertation coach, dissertation writing, distractions, finishing the dissertation, following through, getting started, mental toughness, motivation, perseverance, planning, productivity, resilience, restart writing, self-discipline, self-sabotage, showing up, using your strengths, writing schedule, tagged decision fatigue, dissertation coach, John Tierney, nothing alternative, plan for writing, precommitment, Roy Baumeister, schedule, setting boundaries on September 28, 2011 | Leave a Comment »
What could help you have an easier time starting to write and sticking with the writing?
In the new book Willpower, psychologist Roy F. Baumeister and New York Times science writer John Tierney present research that willpower is limited, in part because you use the same resource for so many different things.
Since you can’t be certain that you’ll have willpower whenever you might finally take the notion to write, writers, in particular, need to conserve willpower wherever possible.
If you have engaged in making decisions all day, in one area after another, you may have depleted your reserve of willpower and suffer from “decision fatigue.”
The authors support the view that having a writing habit helps you avoid the decision fatigue. If you have a habit in place, you won’t rely solely on willpower to motivate you to write.
Baumeister and Tierney call this a “precommitment.” Precommitment is the use of a strategy or plan to protect you from procrastination and impulsive behavior.
And you know where impulsive behavior takes you—to email, to the refrigerator, to the TV.
Raymond Chandler, who created detective Philip Marlowe and wrote detective novels and film scripts, such as The Big Sleep, devoted four hours each day to writing, or, as he says, if he didn’t write, then he could do nothing.
And he meant nothing.
Advising other writers how to produce writing, Chandler says, that during the daily four hours for writing, a writer “doesn’t have to write, . . . He can look out the window or stand on his head or writhe on the floor, but he is not to do any other positive thing, not read, write letters, glance at magazines, or write checks.”
Chandler says that during the scheduled four hours each day there are “two very simple rules, a. you don’t have to write. b. you can’t do anything else. The rest comes of itself.”
Baumeister and Tierney call this particular precommitment the “Nothing Alternative.” You write or you do nothing.
My dissertation coaching clients have given me some great suggestions for implementing the “Nothing Alternative.” When email, Google, and Facebook beckon, how do you follow through on your intention to write?
Here’s to precommitment!
Nancy Whichard, Ph.D., PCC
Your International Dissertation Coach and Academic Career Coach
nancy @ nancywhichard.com
Posted in academic, accountability, advisor, choice, determination, dissertation advisors, dissertation coach, dissertation writing, family, finishing the dissertation, mental toughness, motivation, perseverance, resilience, self-discipline, setbacks, writing, tagged dissertation, dissertation advisor, dissertation coach, grit, hard choices, juggling dissertation with work and family, Memorial Day, mental toughness, writing on May 25, 2011 | Leave a Comment »
I have coached many people who write dissertations while juggling the demands of family life. It’s difficult to juggle the daily demands, but to give up a holiday with one’s family is a particularly hard choice to make.
As the Memorial Day holiday approaches here in the U.S., I am thinking back to a Memorial Day weekend years ago when I had to choose my dissertation over the holiday weekend with my family. Now it seems as if it was a small sacrifice, and completing a dissertation definitely requires some sacrifices. But at the time, I felt that the dissertation process had demanded too much from me one too many times.
In my Washington, DC suburb, Memorial Day has always been a day for ritual and fun. The day begins with a 3K Fun Run. The day proceeds with a fair and a parade and back-yard picnics. Except for the one year when I had to spend the whole weekend once again revising the intro to my diss.
My defense was approaching. I thought I was on track since the full draft of the dissertation had been revised many times and had finally been approved. Only the intro needed one more rewrite, and I had done that, following the straightforward suggestions for revising from my advisor. I then sent the rewritten Intro off to him.
Just before Memorial Day, he returned the revision to me with a note saying that I should take out all of the newly added pages and re-work the whole chapter.
I was dumbfounded. I knew better, but because the deadline was so close I wrote to him, saying that I had done what he had told me to do. His only comment was that he didn’t want to be told what he had said.
I hoped that I hadn’t alienated him. And I knew that I had to grind out the new rewrite immediately. I gave up my holiday weekend with my family and sat in front of my computer for the holiday.
As I look back on that weekend now, years later, I have changed my perspective on several counts.
I remember now that when I was revising the Intro, my advisor’s suggestions struck me as a bit off the mark. But I didn’t raise any questions or concerns with him. Of course, the advisor is always right, but it would have been smart to at least give voice to my concerns.
It strikes me now that perhaps I was even a bit lazy in adopting his comments without discussing my concerns with him or without thinking of an alternative approach.
As for that Memorial Day weekend, I don’t think that my kids felt neglected. I did miss out on some fun, but I bounced back. It wasn’t the end of the world. And I think my kids learned something about how much work it takes to finish big projects.
What I had to do was draw on my resolve and my mental toughness to get through this challenge.
Over the long period of time that I worked on the whole dissertation, I learned the value of building perseverance, resilience, and courage. Actually, learning to rely on those strengths may be the life-changing and lasting benefit for me of writing the dissertation.
If you, too, are finding yourself drawing on and building your mental toughness and resolve as you write your dissertation, I salute you. Only in such a long-term, large project do you find such an opportunity.
Posted in academic, self-sabotage, planning, dissertation coach, determination, writing, dissertation writing, commitment, restart writing, motivation, mental toughness, family, boundaries, time management, writing schedule, tagged writing, dissertation coach, dissertation, full-time jobs, juggling dissertation with work and family, scheduling dissertation time on May 21, 2011 | 4 Comments »
A few months ago a person who had finished her course work for her Ph.D., but had not done much toward her dissertation, wrote to say that as someone who worked full-time away from home, she couldn’t fathom how she could add writing her dissertation to the mix of not only working full-time, but also being a mother and a wife.
That’s a wrenching situation—one I struggled with many years ago as I tried to add a dissertation to a full-time teaching appointment, two children, a husband, and a house.
Currently, several of the women that I coach have demanding, full-time professional jobs, as well as other people in their lives. Two in particular have put off writing their dissertations for just about as long as they possibly could, and so now, busy as they are, they have embarked on the most demanding writing project they may ever have.
One of them had set a series of deadlines for herself, but was wondering how she could possibly meet them. I asked her, “How many times a week will have to work on your writing to keep it moving forward and to keep it at the center of your mind?”
She said in a quiet voice, “I think I will have to work on it and touch it every day. I think I will have to work on it 2 hours every day.”
After considering the potential times in a day when she could work, she decided that she will work from 4 to 6 pm . . . in her office before she leaves for the evening.
Here are some tips if you, too, need to make time during your day or at the end of your day to work on your dissertation:
Let your brain help you make a writing habit
Tell yourself early in the day–each day that you will write– the following:
“If it’s 4 pm, then I will start my writing session.”
It sounds simplistic, but saying that to yourself lets your mind start to watch for 4 pm. Try it–you’ll be surprised at how almost without thinking you act on your intention to start your writing session.
Establish a boundary to separate office work from the dissertation
You’re already at your desk, so you won’t be changing locations. But literally put your dissertation in the center of the desk. Move anything having to do with your office work off the desk or stack it or turn off the computer files so that you won’t wander back into left-over work from your day.
Prepare the night before
The night before, plan what you will be working on; choose any books or articles you may need to take with you. Set your goal for the content and the amount of text you will write.
Involve your partner/spouse
Tell your partner or spouse what you are going to do the next day on your dissertation. Talk for a few minutes about the plan and even rehearse how you want it to go.
But, but, but….
Are you immediately ticking off all the reasons why you couldn’t do this? But stop for a minute. How could you modify this plan that so it will work for you?
If you need to shorten the after-work writing session to one hour, then do that. If you need to get to work earlier in order to stop earlier, then do that. If you can write only 3 nights a week, then do that.
American television journalist Norah O-Donnell and BBC’s Katty Kay both say that as women with three or four children each, they work faster and more efficiently than many others around them. They work quickly and with determination so that they can get home to their families.
Working toward getting better at being an efficient, productive writer sounds like a great goal, don’t you think?
If you want to start making headway on your dissertation, even though you have a day job and a family, try working on your dissertation before you leave your office for the day. This is a good plan. Give it an honest try.
If you have put a similar plan in place, how is it working for you? I would love to hear from you.
All good wishes,
Posted in realistic goals, planning, dissertation coach, dissertation writing, higher education, teaching, tagged Academia, Career, careers outside of academia, dissertation coach, dissertation writing, Employment, versatile Ph.D., writing on May 16, 2011 | 2 Comments »
Are you interested in careers that might not be in academia?
Have you found it hard to find people in the academic environment who know about other careers?
Just a few days ago I learned from a dissertation coaching client of a great service that may interest you.
The Versatile PhD is a free online service for both ABD’s and PhD’s who are interested in learning about careers outside academia. Versatility is the key concept of The Versatile PhD. The organizers recognize that you have “the ability to apply your skills and interests in a wide variety of fields.”
This site provides an arena for you to investigate possibilities and to think of the many choices available to you.
The contributors are generous with their ideas and experience and provide information that you can use. You will find career panels that run for a week, announcements of events, discussion groups, job postings, career stories, and resumes. The website is full of interesting materials. For instance, you will find a store—actually a bookstore with section titles such as
–Books to help you chart a new course in your career
–Books to help you understand the non-academic job search process and navigate it successfully
–Books about The Academy
–Stuff for Scientists
The Versatile PhD started as a small community, and it’s been growing. Now many universities subscribe to the premium area. In fact, the subscription fees from universities pay for the open area, which you are welcome to join for free. Later this year, the premium area may be open to individuals.
If you have had experience with The Versatile PhD or if you’ve been looking for a community like this, I would love to hear from you.
All good wishes,
Nancy Whichard, Ph.D., PCC Your International Dissertation Coach and Academic Career Coach www.nancywhichard.com www.smarttipsforwriters.com nancy @ nancywhichard.com
Posted in academic, dissertation coach, dissertation writing, setbacks, self-criticism, beliefs, perfectionism, tagged dissertation writing, writing, dissertation coach, success, failure, change on May 11, 2011 | Leave a Comment »
What do you do when you have a plan for a writing project in place, but it goes terribly wrong? What is your response?
When you slip up, do those powerful feelings that you’re not allowed to make a mistake overwhelm you?
If you tend to be a perfectionist, it can be hard to take the slip-ups in stride.
In the May edition of my e-newsletter, Smart Tips for Writers, I offer some thoughts and tips about what will help you be in solution mode, rather than going straight to meltdown, when you hit a rough patch.
You haven’t subscribed to my free e-newsletter? That’s easily remedied. Just go to my website at www.nancywhichard.com to sign up.