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Archive for the ‘decluttering’ 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

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

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Many times writers hire me to coach them because they’re stuck.  They haven’t made substantial progress on their dissertation for months. 

What stuck often means is that the writers are having trouble claiming a chunk of time for the writing because of time-sucks.  Time-sucks come in all sizes and shapes. 

Facebook and email will be your undoing.  
Friend—give them up!  

In the interest of full disclosure, I do go on Facebook, but only because my nieces talked me into doing it.  I joined in order to see pictures of the little ones who live far and away.  No matter how many subscriptions I give to Your Big Backyard, Ranger Rick, National Geographic for Kids and Cricket, I get fewer and fewer pictures in the mail.  Thank-you notes, yes.  Pictures of the kids, not so many.  Thus, Facebook, but it’s just for the pictures. 

Babies are notorious time-sucks.
Being a parent is high on the list for time-sucks, especially if your kids are young.   The youngest addition to my extended family showed up in a picture on Facebook with the words “Mommy’s attention hog” on his t-shirt. 

Because of a singular moment, I remember what I was thinking or not thinking around the time my youngest started kindergarten.  I was standing in line at the grocery and for the first time in ages I was startled to catch myself lost in thought. 

When one has kids, the state of being lost in thought takes planning and distance.  

Mindless activities get few gold stars.
How much cleaning and straightening and folding do you need to do in order to feel good?  I think the more mindless activities you do, the worse you feel, kind of like eating Snickers bars, but I may be wrong. 

I am bothered by the stacks of files and papers in my house. I’ve delegated those decluttering tasks to 2 hours on Sunday while I watch TV.  Today was the second Sunday for using my new plan, and I’ve cleaned up a few stacks.  Two hours seem about right for me.  Any more than that and I’m suspicious that I’m procrastinating on something more important. 

Feel guilty asking for help from your spouse?
Moms, especially, think they can multi-task, even if it’s writing a dissertation at the same time as they’re refereeing a tug-of-war the boys are having over a toy. 

A favorite story from a client was that she felt guilty asking her husband to take care of the kids on a Sunday afternoon when he worked so hard all week, and she, ostensibly, only had to take care of the kids.  The husband didn’t really mind taking care of the kids,  She would go to the library, and he would add seats for the kids in front of the TV—and not to watch cartoons, but to watch golf!  Not the worst thing, right?  The story goes that the kids learned to love golf. 

What I hear from my clients suggests that time skitters around corners, never to be seen, never to be caught, much as if it were a two-year-old.  Sometimes it sounds as if time makes itself available only to the lucky or to those with nannies or to the childless. 

It’s true that there are inequities.  Too often women have waited their turn to finish a degree.  The spouse finishes first, and then if there are kids, moms can sometimes put their writing further and further down on their priority lists. 

But the person who takes responsibility for negotiating relationships and asking for what she needs will see time emerging.  

Time is both elusive and valuable. Be bold and brave— ask your spouse for what you need.  Carve time out of the day, and claim that precious commodity for your important, but sadly neglected job of writing.   Plan and use time as if it were made of gold. Because it is. 

I’d love to hear from you—what challenges are you having around time? 

All good wishes, 

Nancy 

Nancy Whichard, Ph.D., PCC
Your International Dissertation and Academic Career Coach
nancy@nancywhichard.com
www.dissertationbootcamp.net
www.usingyourstrengths.com
www.smarttipsforwriters.com 

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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,

Nancy

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
nancy@nancywhichard.com
www.nancywhichard.com
www.dissertationbootcamp.net

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What do you want more of in 2009?  Greater productivity in your writing?  Much more motivation to help you start writing your dissertation? How about Perseverance?  Or physical endurance?

Are you ready to launch your 2009 Self-Improvement Package?  How about joining a Dissertation Boot Camp?

From Oprah to gyms to decluttering gurus, we’re being given great opportunities that will help us make significant changes in the coming year.

If truth be told (and I try to tell the truth to others, if not always to myself), I think I’m going to need Oprah’s guidance for a few months in 2009.  Although I exercise, I am too fond of the comfort of food.  Whenever I hit a wall in my writing, my first thought is what could I eat? I’m definitely making some changes in 2009.

I need habits that are working for me.

The beginning of a new year is an opportune time to assess our habits and consider how they are working for or against us.

As writers, most of us have habits that fall into both categories, such as writing every day (works for us) and procrastination (works against us).

Although it may seem that we should simply cease and desist from those “bad” habits that work against us, as most of us know all too well from experience, that rarely provides a lasting solution.

Fortunately, there are positive strategies that can achieve lasting results. Most of these involve capitalizing on the power of habit.

Are you interested in using the power of habit to your advantage in the coming year?

A Dissertation Boot Camp helps you establish a robust daily writing habit.  With each day, the writing habit becomes stronger.  Would you be interested in that? If you’re interested in how a boot camp might be part of your 2009 plan, check out my website:  www.nancywhichard.com.

I’d love to hear from you.  What strategy would give you lasting results in establishing an industrial-strength daily writing habit?

Hope and cheer to you for new and better habits in 2009,

Nancy

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

 

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1. What is the key to perseverance?
 Getting started is the key.
 The first step is the hardest.  Sit down and then stay there.

2. What is sending you right over the edge? 
 You are– Catastrophizing only raises your blood pressure.
 Who needs the drama?
 Remember: Catastrophizing is just another form of procrastination. 

3. Who could work at a desk stacked so high that you can’t see the computer screen?
 Decluttering is a terrific focusing mechanism.
 Just don’t get carried away with it—we’re talking desk top, one surface.

4. Even if you get going, something seems to stop you. 
 Ever hear of a momentum-breaker? 
 It’s usually something you do to yourself, when you’re at your self-sabotaging best.

5. How did creativity get to be #24 in your list of strengths? 
 Oops—time to try a new approach.  Give yourself a moment to let your mind wander—in the grocery  store line or driving to take care of an errand.  Turn the radio off and let your mind do what it loves to  do for a bit.

6. How can you write when you’re feeling so mean?
 So you didn’t have a great holiday.  Or you don’t want to go back to writing after having a great  holiday.  Meanness is uncalled for.  Time to practice gratitude and empty that mean-spiritedness before it really gets in your way.  What do you have to be grateful for? 

7.  Think how irritated you will be with yourself next week if you goof off all of this week. 

8.  Bonus Tip:  Go my website (www.nwcoaching.com) and sign up for my Smart Tips newsletter. I have  something you can use!

Until next time,
Nancy
www.nwcoaching.com

 P.S.  Get in touch with me–what would help you move into action?

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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,
Nancy
www.nwcoaching.com
 

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I’ve been on a trip, away from my writing projects and away from other job-related commitments.  It’s hard to come back.

I enjoy writing my blog.  I also have another writing project that is new and important to me, but re-starting takes effort.

Coming back to most writing tasks requires more of us than just doing it.

1)  It takes self-awareness.
I needed to give myself permission to feel whatever it was that was getting in my way. 

2 I am free to choose. 
I had quite a bit of work piled up from all corners of my work life, and some of it was stressful—the kind of piddly stuff that clutters my brain and annoys me.  But in my absence, the piddly stuff had grown to a nose-high level. I could groan and moan and continue to push through that work, becoming increasingly cranky, or I could give myself permission to choose.

3)  Take a moment.
I needed to give myself a moment to settle in and regroup.  I needed to sit quietly.
 
4)  Write whatever comes into your mind. 
Usually ideas come to me as I write, and I need to write in order to remember this.  I am often surprised as I start to write that ideas actually start coming to me, just as they usually do.  I tell my clients to trust themselves.  Likewise, I need to trust myself. And take a moment.  And remember that I am free to choose.
  

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