This is by far the most frequent question that I get from graduate students and professors. As a dissertation and tenure coach, Ive come to realize that everyone in academia, whether writing a dissertation, completing an article, or doing research, struggles with procrastination. Why is this so prevalent in such a well-educated, intelligent population? You’ve Got the Wrong AttitudeYour belief system is what may be standing in the way. What Should You Believe Instead? The difficult part, it turns out, was convincing these professors to try this low-key method in the first place. So what’s stopping you from learning from these professors and writing a small amount each day? It’s just not rewarding writing in small amounts. I feel like I’ve gotten nothing accomplished. I have a big issue to work out. It will take more time than 30 minutes. I feel guilty if I don’t work more each time. I’ll never complete my dissertation/paper/research project at that pace.

I’ve waited until it’s too late and I can’t afford the luxury of that small amount of time per day. It just doesn’t feel right. I’ve got more time than that, I should be putting all my time to good use. It’s so overwhelming that I don’t know where to start, and by the time I figure it out my 30 minutes will be up. My answer to those responses? Except for the emergency deadline, there is no reason not to try this technique. Give it time to see if it works for you. If you’re like every other academic I’ve worked with, you will resist the idea. I suggest that the more resistant you are, the more problem you’ve probably had with procrastination in the past. An Action PlanTry it for a week. Select a time each day, preferably not the evening unless you’re a night owl, and write for 30 minutes, without email, reading or other distractions. Start setting yourself up for success starting right now!

Similarly, how can suppressing your emotions, overlooking them, or completely denying them foster any kind of vulnerable conversation? These conversations are especially important since they represent the cornerstone of intimacy. Now, letting your emotions completely dictate your behavior is not a much better alternative. One word, look, smell, touch, etc. can trigger a whole range of emotions. And while increasing your emotional sensitivity and your ability to express that whole range of emotions is extremely important, allowing your expression to rely on the whims of your instincts and demands of that emotion is just stupid. Literally. It’s not emotionally intelligent. And since a relationship is, unfortunately, not all about you, being highly skilled at deciphering your partner’s moods and current frame of mind is extremely important. When she’s angry, you can proactively do something nice for her or ask her questions in an attempt to comfort her by really listening.

When she’s happy, you can amplify the feeling by spontaneously turning on some music and dancing with her or buying a nice bottle of wine for dinner. And so on. Get creative! Relationship Management is all about communicating authentically with others and building relationships. Acting spontaneously, with integrity (in a way according to your value system), allows for the best relationships because you are being vulnerable. True vulnerability comes from knowing who you are, what you stand for, your strengths/joys/passions, your weakness/traumas/challenges, and what you want out of life. This degree of self-awareness allows you to confidently show yourself to the people around you. Instead of compromising your values and beliefs to please others, you act congruent with your values in every second regardless of the pressure. The best part about being in tune with your emotions is you will know exactly when you are being who you want to be and when you aren’t. Your emotions don’t lie. If you remain perpetually conscious of your feelings, they will reveal your true, inner self. Enjoy your new life!

Although I hadn’t planned on it, I ended up basically taking a break for a year. My committee chair finally kicked me back into gear when my son was 1 year old. What worked for me was to get a babysitter for even a few hours a week. I had 5 hours a week for 3-4 months and then 10 hours a week for the last couple months. I also wrote when my son was napping, after he went to bed at night, or the weekends when my husband could watch him. It certainly wasn’t easy, but I had great motivation to finish and get out. I found that waiting until he was bit older made it easier for me to get the babysitter. In retrospect, I’m not sure I would have actively chosen to do it that way (it would have been nice to finish sooner), but it’s what happened.

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