Archive for the ‘cleaning’ Category

A Saturday alone is a gift.

My husband is gone for the weekend, and I am writing.

As a reward to writing first, I promised myself a bit of email-inbox decluttering.

To see if I should read it or delete it, I clicked on Gretchen Rubin’s “5 Mistakes I Continue To Make in My Marriage.”

Of course, since I make mistakes in my marriage, I can’t help being curious.  While the title sounds like something that would be in a magazine at the grocery check-out, the author—Gretchen Rubin— writes engagingly about the application of positive psychology studies and theories to her own life.

If you feel that the demands of writing and working or teaching coupled with your tightly scheduled life create problems for your relationships and family life, you’ll appreciate hearing which mistakes Rubin addresses and some changes she has resolved to make.  I’m particularly struck by her #4 mistake that she continues to make in her marriage.

That mistake is Score-keeping.

She says that she keeps score—herself vs. her husband.

And she always believes that she is overly generous in her contributions to the house and family, while, of course, she finds her husband lacking.

Her score-keeping doesn’t account for overestimating her own contribution.

Rubin quotes University of Virginia psychology professor, Jonathan Haidt, who writes in The Happiness Hypothesis  that “when husbands and wives estimate the percentage of housework each does, their estimates total more than 120 percent.”

How about you?  Do you engage in score-keeping and start to get that testy, cranky feeling about all that you’re doing?

As you engage in score-keeping and struggle with the feelings that arise, you’re using energy and willpower that could go toward your writing.  And you’re doing damage to your relationships. Score-keeping is costly.

Keeping your relationship on an even keel is difficult when you’re engaged in an intense and time-consuming writing project.  It’s easy to fall into unconscious over-claiming (that is, unconsciously overestimating what you have done versus another person’s contribution) when you feel yourself sucked into yet another time-consuming task.

If you want to be productive during a scheduled writing session, decide ahead of time what you will do if score-keeping raises its ugly head.  Planning can help you avoid that emotional drain.

What costly mistakes do you find yourself making in your relationships?







Take care of your relationships, and conserve your willpower.

Keep writing,


Nancy Whichard, Ph.D., PCC
Your International Dissertation Coach and Academic Career Coach
nancy @ nancywhichard.com

Read Full Post »

Change is happening in the Washington DC area, not just in Congress, but here in my backyard.  Spring is here.  Tulips are pushing their way above ground.   The trees are dropping all sorts of little colored pellets on my deck and front walk. 

The first days of Spring are a great time to assess your writing habits and consider how they are working for you or against you.  It’s an opportune time for you to consider where change in your writing process might help you. 

Time to clean house.

You’ve probably been down this road before, deciding to make a change but not putting any muscle into that decision.  However, there are positive strategies that can achieve lasting results.

Most of these involve capitalizing on the power of habit. 

In December 2008, I wrote a post in this space called “Make Getting Started on Your Writing Easier: Top 5 Reasons to Develop a No-Kidding, No-Fooling Daily Writing Habit.”

If you were fighting the dissertation battle then, 15 months ago, you may have read my “top 5 reasons for developing a solid, robust, no-kidding daily writing habit.”  And perhaps you would have made changes at that time.  Then these last 15 months might have been different.  Maybe you wouldn’t have continued to sabotage yourself and expend energy resisting writing rather than putting your energy into writing.  

What if you stopped making excuses now?  How about committing to  writing every day, even if only fifteen minutes a day?  Before you back away and begin again with the excuses, consider how writing every day, preferably at a scheduled time and maybe first thing in your day, would increase your productivity and, most importantly, would have you writing. 

Where do you need to exert control and spend your energy? What can you do to help yourself be mentally tough?  I’d love to hear from you. 

Enjoy the season.  How about a change?

Best to you,


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


Read Full Post »

You’ve just returned from a trip?  What can you do to move quickly into your writing, with no resistance?

Try these steps:

1.  If you didn’t leave a clean desk, clean it now.  Sort the mail, the bills, and the magazines quickly and remove them from the desk.

2.  If you haven’t made a plan for what you will do right now (the day/night of your return), make a plan now.  Is it important to create more order for yourself?  Do you need to unpack now and do laundry? 

3.  If you aren’t going to do any writing now (the day of your return), make sure that you review where you will start tomorrow.  Be ready to start fresh on the following day. Make this a planning time— do what is necessary to eliminate email and other distractions.

4.  Now it’s time to write. Email can wait. 

5.  Open your files; breathe deeply; settle in.  This is all abut getting back into the text, but you need to slow everything down so that you can center and focus

6.  Read what you wrote during your last writing session in order to settle into your text, but gear up to write.  Be ready to move forward.

7.  Set your timer—what is the minimum length for this writing session?

Good luck!  You’re off and running.

Welcome back!

All the best,


P.S.  How’s your summer writing progressing?  Do you have any tips to share on what is working for you?  I’d love to hear from you.

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


Read Full Post »

Is writing your dissertation a top priority for you?  You may think that you are putting your writing project or dissertation first.  At least you think about it or worry about it more time than you’d like.

But what are you doing during your prime time, when you’re at your best?

If there’s a deadline looming, you put your dissertation first, push aside other tasks, clean off your desk, and settle in to grind that paper out.

Instead of waiting for a deadline to call you to action, what could you put in place now  that would let you write straightaway, no dillydallying?

Here’s a thought—why not put off the less critical things?
That would allow you to put your writing first and to put your best self into your writing.

To put your writing first, what else can be put off?

1.  Reading the newspaper.
Reading the newspaper can take a lot of time.  It’s even more dangerous to read a paper online.  Not only will you read the main articles, but you’ll also be pulled to read the articles that are most frequently emailed.  And the opinions and then the YouTube interview attached to the article.

2. Reading even one email.
If you made the mistake of reading online headlines from your favorite newspaper, then you’re already too close for comfort to your email.  But it’s not too late to turn and run.
Put off all email until your writing session is over.

3. Straightening up the kitchen.
Who would think that cleaning up the kitchen in the morning would hold you in its clutches?  Most writers would, that’s who. To put off writing, we can clean the counter and sink as if the mother-in-law were arriving within the hour.  My advice– delegate kitchen duties.  If you can’t delegate, then put off kitchen clean-up until you’re cooking dinner.

4. Staying on campus unnecessarily or doing admin duties during your prime time, if you are teaching.
Put off anything you can if you’re teaching that will keep you from writing.

a. If you write at home, leave campus right away after class.  Don’t go back to  your office or you’ll undoubtedly be waylaid by a chatty colleague.

b. If you take attendance in your classes by collecting question-of-the-day  responses, put off reading them and recording attendance until late in the evening  when you’re tired.

What have you been putting off?  If it’s your writing, then it’s time that you give more than give lip-service to your dissertation.  Put something else off for the sake of your writing.

All good wishes,


P.S.  If you’ve made a habit of putting off writing your dissertation, it’s time to change that habit.   Dissertation boot camp can help you put make a habit of writing your dissertation during your best time.
Nancy Whichard, Ph.D., PCC

Your International Dissertation and Academic Career Coach



Read Full Post »

You want to be at a good place with your writing at summer’s end?  You can absolutely do that, especially if you approach the summer with a bit of urgency and heat. 

Get a picture of yourself in your mind’s eye of you taking charge. What would your taking charge look like?

1.  See what’s the big deal about writing early each morning.  Even if you’ve always said that you’re a night person, get up early and put in a couple of hours of writing before doing anything else.  No email; no newspaper; no headlines.
2.  Cut back on night-time TV. Turn the TV off before you find yourself watching Oprah re-runs in the middle of the night.  One place in your life where you absolutely have control is clicking “off” on the remote.

3.  Know your cut-off date for research. Have that cut-off date or time in place before you ever start. Reading can go on forever. It’s a wonderful, nearly guilt-free way to procrastinate.  If you need to do a bit more research, you can slip that in later.  For now, be clear on your deadline for cutting off the research.

4.  Boldly wade into the tough parts of your diss.  What needs to be done?  Plan to start working on the parts that have given you fits, or you’ll be tempted to read the parts of your draft that you like and tweak the writing that’s already in fairly good shape. 

5.  If family should visit you this summer, still keep your head in your diss.
Give your mind something to chew on each day.  If demands take you away from writing, open your diss just to read a section or two. Check on how you referred to something in your writing.  Keep the connection to your writing fresh and alive.

6.  Let dust be your badge of courage.  Say to yourself, “I’m brave enough to put my diss ahead of cleaning.”  If you have to move your files for someone to sleep on the spare bed, fine, but don’t move your papers or files too far.  Don’t put them out of sight.  People can accommodate you.

7. What is your mid-summer reward? Tie work to reward. Plan something at mid-summer.  Whether it’s something big (3 days in Italy or Mexico) or small (an overnight camping trip or a day at the museums), put something in place that you can look forward to.  That reward is what you can lock your eyes on and work toward.

Make this summer the one that you’ll look back on with pride.  Work hard, have fun at your mid-summer reward, and then finish your summer with a bang.  Have something to show for your Summer of 2008.

What will you do to take charge this summer?  I’d love to hear from you.

Happy Summer Writing,

Nancy Whichard, PhD, PCC
Your International Dissertation Coach

P.S.   Did you sign up for Smart Tips at www.nancywhichard.com?  No?  You didn’t?  Hustle over there and sign up.

Read Full Post »

When I was writing my dissertation, I tried my best to let go of all that was unimportant. 

I always wanted more time to be with my kids and to do that I had to let go of all but the essential aspects of my teaching. I wasn’t perfect. Even though I tried to compartmentalize, class preparation and paper grading bled into dissertation time and dissertation time bled into family time.  But when the choice was to spend more time on each paper or hold the line on grading and spend time with my kids, I did my best to cut corners on the grading.

I knew that my kids needed to eat good food, do their homework, have activities in their lives about which they were passionate, and know that they meant the world to me.  I wrapped my arms around my kids and let go of a lot of other things.

Mainly what I let go of was any notion of a perfectly kept house, or even a well kept house.  I was ecstatic with whatever anyone did that would move us all one inch closer to a clean house.

Long before I heard of FlyLady and her Ultimate Timer (www.flylady.net), I had cleaning blitzes.  I would decide that whatever I could get done in 10 minutes would be all that needed to be done.  Bathrooms—5 minutes should be all that was needed to spray cleaning fluids here and there and wipe them up.  Sweeping the main floor of the house—5 minutes tops.

I also had to protect myself from situations that would drive me over the brink.  I couldn’t open my house to family members who unexpectedly decided our house would be a good place to stay for their spring vacation.  I had to ask for help and understanding. 

Where are you drawing the line so that you can get some writing done and also take care of yourself and others in your life?  I’d love to hear from you.

I have something that will be of help.  Go to www.nwcoaching.com and get a free sign-up bonus when you subscribe to my Smart Tips for Writers e-newsletter.

Until next time,

Read Full Post »