Posts Tagged ‘productivity’

Several of my dissertation coaching clients use timers on their computers to help them get started with a writing session, to stay focused, and to stick with their work. 

It also helps them to stop at a pre-determined time. In that way, they don’t stay at the writing too long and yet they stay long enough to get a good chunk of work done. 

One client says that her Taskmaster—her time-tracking widget — helps her with time management and with keeping track of how much time she spends on a task. 

Another client uses a free online timer called Instant Boss.  The “Boss” alerts him at a thirty-minute mark—the amount of time for a writing session that my client has decided works best for him   He’s noticed that if he stays at it longer, his productivity goes down.

Not only does the Boss tell him when to take a break, but it also helps him keep his breaks to five or ten minutes.

If he decides to take a short walk during his break, he sets the timer on his cell phone.

Using a timer protects you from sabotaging yourself.  You decide before you start the writing session how long you will work and how long your break will be.

It’s a handy writing tool, giving you some freedom while it eliminates the need to keep track of time yourself.  And a timer helps you stay focused, allowing for an efficient and productive writing session.
Have you been thinking about trying a timer?  Why not give it a whirl?

If you use a timer, I’d love to hear how it is working for you.

Until next time,

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

Read Full Post »

Have you wondered how a dissertation coach could be of help to you?

A week ago, I received an email from a person who had almost given up on her dissertation.  She said, “There is so much baggage that arises whenever I even think about finishing (I’m stupid, my massive debts, fear of the future . . . ) that the notion itself magnetically repels me into a state of serial procrastination.”

I frequently receive email of this kind.  Many ABD’s  who contact me feel isolated and have started to catastrophize. 

Based on my experience, Dissertation Boot Camp and Dissertation Coaching give strategically focused approaches that lead to finished dissertations.

To people who are stuck and not working on their dissertations, I say:  “As awful as you feel and as dreadful as I feel for you, I know that writing each day for a two-week period will go a long way toward your establishing a writing habit.  And regular coaching will be of critical help.” 

• Dissertation Boot Camp and Dissertation Coaching are the quickest and most effective ways of helping you form a daily writing habit.

• Forming a daily writing habit is essential to your success.

• Dissertation Boot Camp and Dissertation Coaching will help you to establish daily, manageable  goals for your writing sessions.

• After establishing daily goals, take the next step and break your goals into daily plans with specifics.  Having a plan with specifics will make showing up and actually writing something each day easier than it has ever been before for you. 

• To continue to solidify your writing habit, set a specific time for when you will start your writing session. 

• Write into your plan how long your writing session will be, how long your breaks will be, and when you will take a day off.  Plan to take time off to relax and to be with other people. 

• If you have committed to the Dissertation Boot Camp approach, you will be accountable for each writing session.  Did you do what you said you would do?  What worked?  What didn’t work?  What needs fixing?

• Put in writing what you will work on during the next writing session.  Be specific– give yourself key words or bullet points to work from.

•If you, too, want to find a way into your dissertation, consider dissertation coaching. 

All good wishes,


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

Read Full Post »

Many authors and dissertation writers question themselves.  That snitty little voice in the back of your head encourages you to question each word, each page, each chapter.  Self-assessment can be a good thing, but what’s even better is to keep the writing going. 

1.  Tell yourself that the writing is just for now—keep repeating, “It’s good enough.” Everything is fixable, and the fixing can come later.

2.  Talk with someone about your writing and the plans that you have for the dissertation.  Warm to your topic. Remind yourself of the interest that drew you to this topic. 

3.  Exchange chapters with someone who is currently writing a dissertation.  As well as getting some comments on your work, you’ll also get a peak at the writing-in-progress of someone else.  The early writing of most people is not ready for a refereed journal or the pages of The New Yorker. That’s good to know.

4.  When you finish a chapter, move on.  Sometimes you have to let things sit before you start tinkering.  Push on to the next chapter.    

5.  Remind yourself that you may make some shifts as you write.  Knowing that you will rewrite gives you not only some distance but also power.  The writing is yours to mold.  You’re in control

The most powerful thing you can do is to keep moving.  Keep the writing going.

Read Full Post »

One of my dissertation clients wanted greater daily productivity as she wrote toward a deadline. To achieve greater productivity, she knew she had some tightening to do.

I asked her on a scale of 1 to 10, how would she rate her current productivity.  7.0, she said.

When I asked what changes would raise the bar to 7.5, she immediately said that she would pay closer attention to the time she spent on breaks.

As we talked about what her daily schedule could look like, a plan emerged.

Here is the plan she put in place:

1.  Maximize the morning by writing early.

2.  Watch the length of breaks. She was aware that she was not being vigilant at controlling the length of her breaks. At times, she was letting them stretch toward an hour long.  She was determined to make a change.  Her plan was to carefully regulate the start and stop time of her breaks.

3. Go to the gym at the end of each day.  She wanted something to look forward to, and she also wanted exercise to be a marker of the boundary between the regular work day and the evening when she would plan her next day of writing.

4.  Journal and plan the next day.  In the evening, she would journal about what she had done that day, and then she would plot her course for the next day, writing down the daily goals and schedule.

At week’s end, she had met her goal.  She was pleased at what she had accomplished.

She said that she stuck to her plan, “got into a good groove,” and built momentum.

And she had gained at least an hour of work time each day by more carefully monitoring her breaks.

But there was an added bonus.

Stay tuned, and I’ll tell you next time what surprised her.

In the meantime, here’s a bonus for you.  As a bonus for signing up for my Smart Tips e-newsletter, I will give you 30 minutes of my time for us to talk about your productivity. Go to my website (www.nwcoaching.com) and sign up for my Smart Tips e-newsletter.

Until next time,

Your Dissertation Coach
nancy @ nancywhichard.com

Read Full Post »

If you have been involved in other demanding projects and are now coming back to your dissertation, your inclination may be first to review and read over all of your notes and everything that you’ve written. 

And how much time would the review consume?

Oh, I will venture a guess that it could consume your day.  It could go on forever, right?

Instead of letting the review become a marathon, try this:
1)  Set the number of hours you plan to work in this session.

2)  Decide how best you could use your time during the review.  What specifically will you re-read—your outline?  Proposal? Introduction to the first two chapters? 

3)  Where are you heading after you’ve read your outline, proposal and introductions?  What is the new work you will do?  Take stock–what is the challenge you’re facing right now in your writing?  What is the difficult section or chapter that awaits you?

4)  Decide how you will divide the time available between the review and the new work.   What fraction of the time will you review?  What fraction of the time will you write?

5)  If you have 3 hours of work, could you do the review in 1 hour or 1 hour and 15 minutes?  That would be less than ½ of the time available, leaving most of your available time for moving forward. 

We can easily make ourselves believe that we really need to spend more time reviewing, but the goal is to keep moving forward. 

To re-start your project and to get your momentum going, make a detailed plan for your writing session that will quickly move you into producing text

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts