Posts Tagged ‘draw boundaries’

How often have you been in the midst of a conversation with a close relative or friend and suddenly you’re asked, “When do you think you’ll finish your dissertation?”

Or you might get this zinger: “Do you know of anyone in your field who has actually landed a job?”

When you are minutes away from a writing session, ready to produce text, you don’t want put your work in jeopardy.

Instead of taking the chance on a bad phone call, take responsibility for your own mood:

1.  Put off returning or making phone calls during the lead-in time to your writing sessions for your dissertation. Do all that you can to protect yourself from negative emotions that you would be hard put to shake.  Your mood and your time are too valuable to risk them on a conversation that could be put off until later.

2.  In addition, put off anything prior to your writing session that could distract you, including reading email and newspaper headlines and watching TV morning shows.

3.  Also, put off other work that can be done later, such as straightening up the kitchen and bath, sorting socks, and making grocery lists.

Try this:

1.  As you move into your morning writing session, slow down– don’t rush into writing as if you are running to catch the subway.

2.  Put yourself into a good mood—listen to a bit of music, slowly lift a couple of weights, stretch, look out the window at a tree, look at a favorite picture on your wall.  Writing is indeed easier when you are in a good mood.

3.  Breathe deeply and relax your shoulders and neck.

4.  Calmly open your document and remind yourself of your goals for the day.

As you plan your writing sessions, think about how you can create emotional well-being and eliminate or at least reduce the drama.

I’d love to hear what protective boundaries you have drawn for yourself.

Happy writing!


P.S.  Put off anything that would derail you, but don’t put off writing.  If you need help with putting a writing habit in place, let me know.  I’d like to help.  For example, consider dissertation boot camp – it can make a surprising difference.

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



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If you have been teaching this past semester and also trying to find the energy to write even the piddliest amount, then seeing the semester coming to an end must seem heaven-sent.  Just when you thought you couldn’t keep going, here suddenly are days with no classes and no students.

Now what?

When I ask my dissertation clients who have been teaching this semester what challenges are they facing now, similar issues come up. Worries about grading exams and student papers pull at many people. Some mention designing a questionnaire, others of finding people to take the questionnaire.  Some are worn down at the thought of once again trying to coax help from an advisor who won’t advise and or finding faculty willing to serve on their dissertation committee.

But the challenges that I hear the most often are problems of concentrating or focusing and getting some writing done.

Now that there’s some time to focus and write, they’re feeling scattered by the need to shop for gifts.  They’re already feeling tense about travelling home or to the in-laws.  Some allow themselves to indulge in anxiety about the syllabus for next semester’s class.

Sound familiar?

If so, it’s time to pull yourself up short.

You have an opportunity during these golden days before family responsibilities and holiday rituals take over. You can see time, precious time, that’s yours, if you claim it.

The advice is simple — don’t blow it off.  Slow down and think about what you can do today.

1.  Maintain your priority.  The other things should require only a minimal effort.

2.  You’ve graded exams and papers before.  Grind them out.

3. You’ve done all of this holiday business before.  Planning, shopping, wrapping, packing.  You can do that with your eyes shut.

4.  Make sure you write when you are at your freshest, but don’t fool yourself into thinking that it’s o.k. to let the day float away because you’re at your best at midnight.

5.  Draw boundaries around the time you’ve claimed for yourself each day—boundaries that keep you in and others out.

6. In addition to carving out a piece of time, also carve out a piece of work that is do-able in the time you’re giving yourself each day.

7.  Overall, each piece isn’t that hard—tell yourself that and believe it.   Looking at the whole darn thing is overwhelming.  Don’t do that.

8.  Carve out your time, your work, your space, and get started.

Each day, slowly and calmly, remind yourself that writing matters.  In fact, tell  yourself it’s your top priority.   Nothing matters as much as the writing task you’ve assigned to yourself for the day.  And all you have to do is that one bit of writing.

Get started sooner, rather than later.

Let me hear how it’s going for you.

One step at a time!



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


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August, for many people writing dissertations, is the month of if-not-now-when?

Other responsibilities are on the horizon, but what can you do to make use of the time August offers you?  If you use the time you have now, you’ll very likely be controlling the space where you will be working and living later on.

1.  How to take control over your time and space –
How does your location affect how well you work?  Tom has the chance to talk with scholars who could give him the job he’s been dreaming about.  To prepare for this conversation, he has several papers written by those scholars.  Unfortunately, he has been doing more dreaming than reading.  The problem is that he’s sitting on the small balcony of his apartment, half-reading, half-daydreaming.  If there is anything you have control over, it’s where you are doing your work.  Go to the library.

2.  How to control the power others have over your time –
Draw boundaries.  Boundaries are a mental image to help you hold at bay those people who would use you. Drawing boundaries can make all of those people outside the boundary a bit fuzzy to you.  You just can’t see out there.  Inside the boundaries, you have space to expand and to grow.  Imagine yourself moving above and beyond the current situation. 

3.  This is the time to do your most important work.  Make sure that what you are doing will move you closer to your goal.

Eliminate distractions, draw boundaries, and focus on your work!  Write while there is time.

Have a great week!

Until next time,

Your International Dissertation Coach

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