Posts Tagged ‘email’

Back to Work

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How often do you find, while at your day job, that you suddenly have a really good thought about your dissertation or a reference that you want to check further when you have some time?   How do you capture that thought?  Do you send yourself an email?  Do you just hope you’ll remember?  Or do you have a better strategy?

I go back and forth from one office to another, from one computer to another, both away from home and while at home.  No matter where I am, I want to know that I can capture an idea that occurs to me or track something that I want to read later. I want to be sure that I’ll have access to that idea and to that article when I am at a different computer.   

To have the same note or file in all locations, I send emails to myself.

Sending several notes to the same location (even if it’s me at both ends, sending and receiving) seems to raise suspicions that I’m a spammer. But even more of a problem is that I’m creating and keeping too much in my email files in all locations.

I have always known that putting so much reliance on email and on email files was risky, but since email and e-newsletters and blogs are easily accessed I tend to let the number of emails mount, and suffice to say, I am not managing the size of my email.

In Paula Tarnapol Whitacre‘s Ease in Writing, K.J. McCorry says that “email is a temporary form. . . . Any data considered permanent or needed in the future (1 to 2 years out) should be saved on the hard drive.”

While McCorry directs this advice at the workplace, the advice is also appropriate for professional and academic writers concerned with capturing and saving critical work.

If I shouldn’t file my ideas long-term in email and if I should refrain from sending duplicate emails back and forth among my computers, what should I put in place that would fit my situation?

I am looking for efficient ways to:

1. Save ideas and reminders

2. Keep track of things I want to read later

3. Be able to work on a file from multiple locations

I like what I see in the online Evernote system where I can easily create an account that “allows Evernote to identify [my] notes and make them available to [me] anywhere.”  Yeah, available to me anywhere!  Furthermore, Evernote will keep my notes “up to date across all of [my] computers, phones, devices and the Web.”  Triple yeah, across all of my computers…!!!

The learning curve for this system seems manageable.  However, as one would expect, the free version has only so much space.

I’m still comparing systems to find the one which best lets me work on a file from multiple locations.

If you have used Evernote or a similar system, such as Instapaper, what has been your experience?  How are you dealing with the need to capture your ideas and save online information?  I would love to hear from you.

Watch your email for the February edition of my newsletter—Smart Tips for Writers. If you aren’t receiving my newsletter, you can sign up on my website (www.nancywhichard.com).

Here’s to making it easier to capture our ideas and notes online and to  work on a file from multiple locations.

Best to you,


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



nancy @ nancywhichard.com

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To build any significant momentum on your dissertation, you need to write every day.  It’s up to you how much you do every day, but commit to daily action and start a specific plan.

What do you need to do to get started?

1. Plan your schedule and keep it in front of you.
Use a hand-written daily calendar and make it visible—put it on a whiteboard. Know when you will settle in to work every day for a week at a time.  Check that calendar (even though it won’t change), just to make it clear to your Lizard Brain that you will be in a certain spot and at certain time. 

2. Underpromise the amount of time you will work each day.
•  Be sure that you can work for the amount of time you are committing to.  Don’t set yourself up for failure by overpromising.
•  At the end of each work session, celebrate achieving your goal.  Give yourself a pat on the back and a big smile, plus a big star on your calendar.

 3. Anticipate that you will try to sabotage your own plan
If you have a plan, will you still try to flake away?  Probably– you’re an expert on this.  How many times have you tried to start writing but still thrown “yeah, but’s” in your path. Don’t give yourself any leeway once you’ve put your schedule in place.

4. Get clear on where you slip up– Make a list of your treacherous distractions.
What have been your  preferred interruptions and diversions?  I’ve been around  master procrastinators, and I’ve done a bit of it myself.  You can’t fool a fooler.

•  Does it all start with email?
The bane of your existence, perhaps?  Too often all mischief starts with your checking an email for just a few seconds.

•  Once you surrender to Facebook, is all hope lost?
Facebookhas shown “genius in harnessing the collective procrastination of an entire planet,”  says the Washington Post. But, you knew that, right?  And then on to Youtube. Whether it’s your boss sending you links to videos or you surfing Youtube, you get hooked and time passes.

5. Earn the time for social networking.
Earn the time by showing up on time for your writing session and sticking with it.  Write. Don’t give your best time to what should be rewards.  Earn the minutes that you will spend on Facebook or email.

6. Be accountable.
Again, anticipate where you stopped short in the past.  Adding someone else to your process is a winning strategy.

You have lots of choices.  Try one or try them all:
•  Get in touch with your advisor
•  Buddy up with another writer
•  Check out a Dissertation Boot Camp
•  Hire a dissertation coach

Time to commit to daily writing:
•  Make a plan
•  Get your support system in place.

Best wishes,


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


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Dissertation writers, professional writers and editors, bloggers–we all fight the good fight against email.

Seth Godin, famous marketing blogger, asks, “Do you spend your day responding and reacting to incoming all day… until the list is empty? “  He says that unlike the days when he could sort his mail in minutes the “old-fashioned way,” he ( and the rest of us, too) can now easily  “spend the whole day hitting ‘reply’.” Oddly, when we’re done, we feel we’ve taken care of important work.  He calls that the “Inbox Culture.”

Have you reached a breaking point with email?  A client says that she would open her messages every morning and before she knew it, an hour of her most productive writing time would be gone.  Sound familiar?

And even worse—after she had closed her email she had trouble focusing on her writing because she would still be distracted by the “the messages and the work attached to those messages.”

As a way to fight email and the so-called inbox culture, she is trying to write for at least four hours before even glancing at the names of people who have sent her messages.  In addition, she says she won’t read the emails until an hour each evening.

So far, so good, she says—and as a bonus, she moves through the email much faster, quickly responding when necessary and otherwise deleting.

How about you?  Have you known for a long time that email is sucking the life out of you?

Robbing you of peak writing time?  Robbing you of productivity?

Time’s a-wasting.  How about a pact?  Stuff your email into one hour a night—is it a deal?

I’d love to hear from you.  Let me know how one-hour-a-night emailing works for you.

And if you haven’t already done so, stop by www.nancywhichard.com to sign up for Smart Tips.

No time like the present–


Nancy Whichard, PhD, PCC
Your International Dissertation Coach

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I’ve been carrying a black L.L. Bean bag filled with writing projects.  I keep thinking that I will surely have a moment here or there when I can dive into my bag. 

That write-now moment just does not jump out from my current what-the-heck-is-going-on-here life. 

So what do I do when I can hide out for a half an hour?  Do I dive into my black L.L. Bean bag?

No, I turn on my email.  Why? I can’t seem to help myself.  Email has a stronger pull than Fun-Sized Snickers. 

Tonight, my personal email was full of this and that, but I got snagged by an email from a colleague: “Help! Things are going awry.” 

Did I say, “Wait a minute–I have time for myself now.  I have done what I had to do.  I’ve made my daily call to my 89-year-old mother.  Now I can look into my black bag”? 

Of course, I didn’t say that.  I was snagged.  Answering that one email led to reading more emails.  You know the drill.

My dissertation clients tell me how email is the black hole.  We know that to be true.  But even though we know that whatever we do, we must not go there, we go there.

What to do?  A client told me about a program that locks her email so that she can’t open it.  I want to know more about this.

Email?  Snickers?  Indulging in either leaves me with that low, crummy feeling of what-was-I-thinking?  In the end, of course, it’s about mental toughness.  Isn’t everything? 

But if there are warnings or signals or blocks that we can put in our own way just so that we pause and think before we act –before we open up our email—that would be helpful to changing this behavior. 

Sounds like a smart tip to me! 

What works for you?

Looking forward to hearing from you,


Nancy Whichard, PhD, PCC
Your International Dissertation Coach

P.S. My Smart Tips newsletter is going out—sign-up at www.nancywhichard.com.

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