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Archive for February, 2010

Is a non-negotiable deadline closing in on you?  Has it been set by your university?  Or is a job – perhaps a postdoc– resting on your finishing your dissertation soon?

As you struggle to meet the deadline, it can feel as if you are barreling downhill on an icy, bumpy slope.  And you fear that at any second you could be thrown violently off course.

It’s easy to fall victim to fears of not meeting a deadline and fears of success and the future.  To meet the deadline and finish, you have to be almost counter intuitive.  You have to keep skiing or skating into the jaws of danger, no swerving, no hanging back, no delaying.

The desire, courage, tenacity, mental toughness, and resilience of the athletes of the Winter Olympics are studies in relief of what a writer needs in order to finish a dissertation sooner rather than later.

Even the boldest of Olympians speak of their fears about performing and competing.  From Russia’s skating superstar Evgeni Plushenko to the U.S. Men’s Half-Piper Gold Medal Winner Shaun White, they speak of the need to get into their routines before being sabotaged by their nerves and fears.  

For you to finish your writing in a timely way, rather than fall along the wayside, means that you must move quickly into a writing routine. You also need to have in place a careful, specific timeline and a detailed writing plan that you follow religiously.
 
Evan Lysacek, the winner of the gold for the Men’s Figure Skating, planned each minute of his performance for maximum points. 

Similarly, to finish your dissertation, you must be as strategic, practical, and savvy as Lysacek.  Know the requirements and expectations of those who will review your work.  Factor those requirements and expectations into your goals and timeline.

Your work is every bit as important to you as winning is to an Olympian athlete. Be smart.

Smart Strategies:
1.  Plan a timeline and writing schedule.
2.  Move quickly into a daily writing routine.
3.  Break out the outline and follow it.
4.  Stay in the moment and focus. 
5.  Use your character strengths. Put your desire, courage, tenacity, mental toughness, and resilience into action.

The dissertation is yours to finish– plan, stay in the moment, and practice resilience.

All good wishes,

Nancy

P.S.  My February newsletter is being emailed.  Last Call to sign up—go to www.smarttipsforwriters.com

Nancy Whichard, Ph.D., PCC
Your International Dissertation Coach and Academic Career Coach

www.nancywhichard.com
www.dissertationbootcamp.net
www.usingyourstrengths.com
www.smarttipsforwriters.com

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How inspired are you by watching the Winter Olympics?  

What a thrill to see the moguls skiers come down the slope so fast it seems as if the screen must be on fast-forward.  Smoking fast, the commentator says.

We figured, without hearing the commentator say it, that these skiers are “on the edge of out of control.”

You have to acknowledge the perseverance of the athletes, as well as honor the pain and monotony they’ve endured in order to meet their goal or just to compete.

U.S. moguls skier Hannah Kearney said that she had consciously thought about the difference between delivering a performance that would give her a silver medal and one that would give her the gold. Talk about focusing and being in the zone!

And how thrilling was it to see the support of Canadians of their countryman Alexandre Bilodeau as he won the gold medal in men’s moguls?

Inspirational, isn’t it?

Nobody is going to tell me I’m smoking fast, but a dissertation coaching client who had finished a smoking-hot Dissertation Boot Camp told me, ‘You’re very good at what you do.”

How great is that?  It’s terrific to help someone be smoking-hot.

Back to the Olympics!  Be inspired!

Nancy

P.S.  It’s time for my February newsletter to go out—this month’s main article is about Spending More Time in Quadrant 2.  Sign up to see what Quadrant 2 is all about. If you aren’t on my mailing list, hustle over to my website:  www.nancywhichard.com or ww.smarttipsforwriters.com.  Look for the green sign-up box beneath my picture.
Nancy Whichard, PhD, PCC
Your International Dissertation Coach and Academic Career Coach

www.nancywhichard.com
www.smarttipsforwriters.com

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This is an encore of a blog post that appeared here April 30, 2008.

Note:  If you haven’t signed up for my free e-newsletter, Smart Tips For Writers,  you can take care of that by going to my website at www.nancywhichard.com or www.smarttipsforwriters.com.

The next Smart Tips e-newsletter goes out this week-end.  Thanks so much. I appreciate your time and your support.

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Are you writing at a snail’s pace?  Are you stopping short of making your deadlines?  Are you still not meeting your goals?  What’s it going to take at the end of the day to have completed what you said you were going to do?
 
Try a fast, easy adjustment — making a small change can sometimes have a good effect.  Let a quick-fix jolt in you into action.

Here are three quick-fixes that are truly Smart Tips:

1.  Put your dissertation on your Desktop.
How many clicks does it take for you to get your writing up on your screen? Make it easy to get to your work.  At the same time, lessen the possibility of getting distracted by another file or (Quelle horreur!) email.

2.  Be a good boss.
You’re the manager for your writing project, so act like one.  Decide how much of one hour you work.  A 52-minute hour sounds good to me.  Work 52 minutes and get an eight-minute break.

3.  Plan your writing breaks.
What are you going to do during each break? Make sure the break refreshes.  Sitting down in front of yet another “Law and Order” or “Medium” will not refresh.  Take it from me, TV is addictive and exhausting. Instead take a shower and wash your hair. Or see how far you can walk in 4 minutes.

I have more Smart Tips for you.  I’m ready to send out my Smart Tips newsletter. To make sure you get your copy, go to my website at www.nancywhichard.com. Underneath my picture on the home page, you’ll see a box where you can sign up for the Smart Tips for Writers e-newsletter.

My very best to you,

Nancy

Nancy Whichard, PhD, PCC
Your International Dissertation Coach and Academic Career Coach

www.nancywhichard.com
www.smarttipsforwriters.com

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Several of my dissertation coaching clients use timers on their computers to help them get started with a writing session, to stay focused, and to stick with their work. 

It also helps them to stop at a pre-determined time. In that way, they don’t stay at the writing too long and yet they stay long enough to get a good chunk of work done. 

One client says that her Taskmaster—her time-tracking widget — helps her with time management and with keeping track of how much time she spends on a task. 

Another client uses a free online timer called Instant Boss.  The “Boss” alerts him at a thirty-minute mark—the amount of time for a writing session that my client has decided works best for him   He’s noticed that if he stays at it longer, his productivity goes down.

Not only does the Boss tell him when to take a break, but it also helps him keep his breaks to five or ten minutes.

If he decides to take a short walk during his break, he sets the timer on his cell phone.

Using a timer protects you from sabotaging yourself.  You decide before you start the writing session how long you will work and how long your break will be.

It’s a handy writing tool, giving you some freedom while it eliminates the need to keep track of time yourself.  And a timer helps you stay focused, allowing for an efficient and productive writing session.
 
Have you been thinking about trying a timer?  Why not give it a whirl?

If you use a timer, I’d love to hear how it is working for you.

Until next time,
Nancy

Nancy Whichard, Ph.D., PCC
Your International Dissertation Coach and Academic Career Coach

www.nancywhichard.com
www.dissertationbootcamp.net
www.usingyourstrengths.com

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My dissertation coaching clients and writing coaching clients have problems with time—usually the problem is that there’s not enough.  Occasionally, there’s too much time!

1.  Put it into writing.
It’s important not only to schedule writing every day, but also to mark your calendar.  One dissertation client says, “If I don’t have a space in my daily calendar marked ‘write,’ I let other responsibilities push writing out.”

2.  Gear up every morning.
Free write or list ideas every morning, even if you aren’t able to take your writing beyond free writing.  “It gets you going for later in the day,” says another client.

3.  Make the most of available minutes.
“If I know that I have only lunch hour to write, I plan what I will write,” says a third client.  “I can’t afford to let minutes slip away.”

4.  There’s such a thing as too much time.
If you have full days available to you to write, start strong and then break for a yoga class or schedule coffee with a friend.  Having a whole day that stretches ahead can lead to procrastination. 

5.  And last, never give up writing time for household chores.
Says one writer, “I just have a rule that I won’t ever clean a toilet or wash a dish during my time for writing.”  Such a rule keeps you from finding urgent excuses not to write.

Share your tip for finding more time to write.  I’d love to hear from you.

Make time to write,

Nancy
Nancy Whichard, Ph.D., PCC
Your International Dissertation Coach and Academic Career Coach

www.nancywhichard.com
www.dissertationbootcamp.net
www.usingyourstrengths.com

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