Posts Tagged ‘eliminate distractions’

Feeling scattered? 

Whether you are an ABD trying to see your way through a dissertation or a freelance writer or a researcher confronted with the impossibility of several projects, there’s too much to be done.  And nothing is getting done.

In addition to writing, perhaps you’re on the job market and need to complete applications.

Or you need to attend expos and find a mentor in publishing and a publisher.

Or plan a conference.  And find a keynoter.  Not to mention that you also have to write your own presentation.

Do you overwhelm yourself?  It’s easy to do.

There are also lots of reasons we give for not writing.

When you’re still and quiet, what do you know is necessary?  You have to produce text. It can’t be put off, just because you have other things in your life. 

Step back from all of the competing demands and multitude of swirling thoughts.  Look three months down the road.  What do you want to be able to say then?  “This is what I’ve done?  This is what I’ve accomplished?” 

You need to have some small success now.

It’s time to look for the low-hanging fruit.

What is one small, do-able task that will take you into this project? 

How about this for a plan?
–Print out one page of notes or an outline. 
–Leave at home all of those articles and books that you swear you must have by your side before you can write.
–Go to a place where you feel removed from all of the noise and clutter of your life.
–Now that you have eliminated competing distractions, give yourself permission to slow down to one writing task.
–Do that one writing task that is within your grasp.

Finishing the task that is within your grasp will give you the success you need to start again the next day, and then the day after that. 

Too often I see people, not just my clients, but others with whom I come into contact, who think big.  Somehow those big plans blind them from seeing what is manageable, the task that is within their reach.

Start with the low-hanging fruit. It’s a great start, and also a way to keep going. 

Best to you,


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


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Have you heard the sarcastic references to Obama’s having written two books?  Of course, it’s politics to make a negative out of what would ordinarily be a good thing, but I’m wondering if the people making the jabs believe that large numbers of voters denigrate writers and writing.  I don’t know what large numbers of voters think, but we don’t have long to wait.

As for me, I know that writing is hard work and that a person can learn a great deal about his or her own character as well as his or her ideas by writing. 

As a writer, Obama modeled a strategy to all would-be writers. He was photographed writing his acceptance speech in a yellow legal pad in a hotel room.
Where do you go when you absolutely have to write – whether it’s the acceptance speech to be a presidential nominee or to move through a hard patch of your dissertation? 

Do you tolerate distractions?

If you really want to get some writing done, it’s worth the effort to get away from the distractions of home or office— away from the distracting comfort of friends and family and  refrigerator.

Where do you go?  The local coffee shop?  The library?  Both are good choices, but if you take your computer along, you’re probably taking a major distraction right along with you.  Carrying access to email with you may be setting yourself up for a less than productive session.

Here’s an idea — leave all electronic devices behind and just take a notebook and a pen. Give yourself the opportunity to write what you know with no possibility of skipping out to check on email. 

Why stare at a screen?

Legal pads are perfect if you’re trying to produce a quantity of text in one sitting. If you want to have movable draft, buy a notebook. Writing in a notebook is almost a lost art, and it can be fun.  Invest in a new notebook in a color you especially like.  Put a sticker or two on the front, just the way you did in junior high.  Make a date with yourself and re-discover how much pleasure you can have in writing what you know, with no books to quote from, no articles to check and check again, and no tempting email at your fingertips. 

You will remove the pressure of the blank screen staring back at you, and you will give yourself the opportunity to ease into what can be a productive writing session.

What about you?  What have you found to be a reliable way to resist distractions and to produce a quantity of text?

I’d love to hear from you.

Here’s to producing text,

Your Dissertation and Academic Career Coach


P.S. The new issue of my e-newsletter Smart Tips will feature an article on procrastination.  Sign up at my website — www.nancywhichard.com.

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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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