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Archive for the ‘training’ Category

Pomodoro Timer

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A productive, academic client says that the most important thing she learned while she was writing her dissertation was to use small chunks of time during the day for her writing.  Working on her dissertation in just 30 minutes here and there allowed her to finish the project. 

What have you tried that will help you work in small chunks of time?  You’ve probably heard of using a timer, but have you heard of the Pomodoro Technique?                                                          

The Pomodoro technique has a very interesting approach to making the most of your time.   Check out this video–The Pomodoro Technique Trains Your Brain Away From Distractions

The approach is familiar, but as the title of the video suggests, you must train your brain to focus and to produce during a small, discrete amount of time.  In this video, you’re asked to choose one task and write it down, set your timer for 25 minutes, work for those 25 minutes without stopping, and then when the time is up, reward yourself with a 5-minute break.  This approach allows you to put a boundary around a small amount of time, discourages multi-tasking, and teaches you to value the small chunks of time that too often are ignored as prime writing time. 

Perhaps you’ve tried many different techniques, but you continue to put off your writing.  You need to add some accountability.  Drop me an email.  I’d love to help you keep on course with your writing goals this year.  That’s what I do! 

All good wishes,

Nancy 

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

Nancy @ nancywhichard.com

http://www.dissertationbootcamp.net/

http://www.usingyourstrengths.com/

http://www.smarttipsforwriters.com/

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An ABD’s dilemmas with her writing underscore for me the problems dissertation writers have when they’re isolated from campus and from an advisor during the dissertation process.

As a dissertation coach, I don’t fix people’s writing, but I listen, and if a client sends me some text, I see what the writing looks like.

This morning a dissertation writer talked about several pages of a chapter. In these pages she writes, in part, the history of a movement.

She came to me because her advisor gives her no feedback.  She had sent him some pages, and it’s obvious he didn’t read the work or, if he did, he decided he wouldn’t involve himself in her process. He says she’s doing great!

The introduction to the survey of literature is murky, repetitious, hard to follow.  It goes on for page after page. She tries to write in what she thinks is the expected discourse. She hurries, compresses, meanders, and throws in rhetorical flourishes.

No one has told her that the convoluted language is confusing.  Nobody has told her, in effect, to choose a traffic lane and stick with it.

In the second half, where she presents the background material, she says, “I don’t have any concepts in here.’  It seems to me that her writing becomes clearer in this second half of the group of pages, but she dismisses that writing as “baby-ish.” She is in a hurry to wrap up the telling of the history because it seems obvious to her.

When she talks aloud to me about her ideas for the dissertation, she sounds competent and clear, but she knows that she has problems when she writes. She is spinning her wheels.

I have faith in her.  I know that she can turn this around, but she is looking at quite an investment of time.

I have to ask:  Did her university prepare her for writing this dissertation?
What responsibility does her advisor have toward her?

What do you think?

Until next time,

Nancy

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

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As you write your dissertation, have you wondered how you are going to make it through those times when you feel as if you’ve been punched in the stomach? those low points that come after devastating setbacks?

Do you ever say to yourself, “Why does this have to be so hard?”

Most of us have at one time or another.

When you are knocked off your feet by an unexpectedly critical evaluation of a proposal or a chapter, what do you do?

As I think this morning about what happened in the New Hampshire Presidential Primary, I’m struck with how winning for two politicians came on the heels of huge setbacks.

John McCain’s presidential fortunes at one time had been so low that he had been all but written off.

And who gave Hillary Clinton any chance at all of winning in New Hampshire after being beaten so badly in Iowa?

It has to take a deep reservoir of courage and trust– trusting in one’s self even when you feel incredibly wounded–to come back from huge political defeats.

The same can be said for rebounding from a setback in the dissertation process.

Even though you’ve had a severe setback, you still have choices.

And to find the will to make a choice, you go to your own deep pool of resources.

Deciding that you are going to do whatever you can to get back on your feet, making a choice, and taking action can in the long-run give you strength that you would be hard-put to find in any other way.

That new strength becomes part of your inner resources.

It will be there for you to call on when you hit another snag in your life or career or writing.

I’d love to hear what your experiences have been.  How have you dealt with setbacks?

Until next time,

Nancy

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

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Is it possible for you to experience happiness when you’re writing a dissertation?

Do you say that to complete your dissertation successfully, you have to smack yourself around the head and shoulders to make yourself keep going?  And you can’t think about feeling joy in the process?  Tal Ben-Shahar, author of the book Happier, would disagree.

He says that you can be both successful and happy. ”Peak performance and peak experience go hand in hand,” he says.

One of my clients speaks of how she gets a rush of joy or happiness when she finishes one of her training sessions for running a marathon. 

When I asked how that might also be possible with a writing session, she said that she has tried to make a connection between the activities, but she cannot.

But as she talked, her training reminded me of a successful writing session.

She says that she has an overall plan as she trains—the number of miles she will run any one day are pre-determined.  In addition, she has a machine, as she calls it, that she sets for the number of miles she’ll run that day, and it counts down. 

She chooses her music in advance, knowing what will help her over humps.

Even with this planning, she’ll sometimes want to quit, but she never sees quitting  as an option.  She just makes a small adjustment, like slowing down and changing her pace for a bit.  That small adjustment relieves the pressure and also distracts her. 

At the end of a session, she has a rush and a feeling of joy from staying with her plan and meeting the challenge. 

As she talked, she admitted that when she’s actually accomplished something in her dissertation, she experiences a similar surge of joy.

My client didn’t use the phrases “hitting her stride” or “getting a second wind,” but I find those words from running as apt metaphors for my writing.  It often takes a while for me to find what I want to say or for me to feel at one with my writing, but if I keep trying, I do hit my stride and I do feel I’ve experienced a second wind.

To have flow or joy in writing, that state in your writing process when you are both challenged and engaged, as in running, you have to stick with it and meet that day’s  goal.  It’s likely that you will have to make slight adjustments during the writing session in order to get past humps.  The joy of mastering yourself as well as your writing is a happiness that’s worth the effort.  

To see a video clip of Tal Ben-Shahar, author of Happier,  on “The Daily Show” go to
http://www.comedycentral.com/shows/the_daily_show/videos/most_recent/index.jhtml and click on the box for the Tal Ben-Shahar video.

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