Though not my official title, I am a part-time dissertation coach at the University of Maryland. On my off days, I also work with students from other universities as well. Many colleges, universities and students do not really know what a dissertationon coach does. I am a mentor, advisor, therapist, friend, cheerleader, teacher, reader, editor, and advocate for the many students that I work with. I am not the expert on the dissertation topic but, I push up my sleeves, get my hands dirty, and help out where and when a student needs and asks for my help. Some frustrated advisors send their students to me when they feel that the student’s problems are beyond the scope of an advisor. It is not a glamorous job but I like it. I have found my calling, my passion and more importantly my niche. As we near graduation this month I am reminded that I love this job.
- My advisor said write a short proposal but I have never written a proposal and don’t know what that entails
- I have been waiting for my advisor to say that I should start working on my dissertation but she hasn’t said anything. It’s been 8 years
- I am getting near to finishing my dissertation and my boyfriend broke up with me
- I need to move out of my house while my boyfriend is a work because of the restraining order I filed
- I am defending two weeks but my mother got arrested and I need to go home, should I tell my advisor?
- My advisor will not provide feedback what should I do
- I watch TV all day, I know I should be working on my dissertation but..
- I don’t want to spend my days and nights working non-stop on my dissertation
- I am 20 days from defending and my advisor emails me that when I finish I should take a writing course
- One committee member does not want to set a defense date
- I have no idea what my advisor wants, she won’t be specific
- Although I defended my proposal I want to change my topic
- I don’t want my advisor at my defense because I don’t really feel that he has helped me that much
- I want to quit…
- I want to graduate but my advisor has never graduated anyone yet—she’s not even considering the possibility
You might consider hiring a dissertation coach because completing the dissertation isn’t just about writing.
To complete your thesis or dissertation managing your time effectively and efficiently is important. If you have a schedule you can enjoy the things you do because you will not be sacrificing one thing for another. You can be present in the moment and give your full attention to what is at hand. In your daily schedule categories activities that you MUST do, such as teach a class, pick up the dry cleaning, children, go to the bank, etc. Afterwards fill in things you WANT to do, such as attend the department soft ball game, reading the your favorite book, watching favorite television show, exercising, dinner with friends, etc. Look at the empty blocks of time in a schedule and think strategically about how you can use those small chunks of time to move your dissertation forward. Remember with a weekly schedule you will not have to start each day looking for time to write. Don’t forget to reward yourself for accomplishing your monthly, weekly, daily goals.
Below are 10 key points to creating a successful weekly schedule:
- Make a daily appointment/meeting with your thesis or dissertation. Don’t skip your appointment
- At the end of each day prepare for the next by writing a note to self about where to go to next.
- Make your tasks bite-size and manageable
- Focus on things you are in control of, if not have a plan B
- Even if you have repetitive tasks such as transcribing interviews, based on how long it takes to transcribe 1 interview, plan your schedule accordingly
- Don’t edit and write at the same time; plan time for writing and another chunk of time for editing
- Plan some time to regularly meet with your advisor and have an agenda ready. Even if your advisor does not like you to have an agenda let him know that you need time to have your questions answered.
- Keep you exercise routine going you need your strength and energy to finish your thesis or dissertation.
- If you are a teaching assistant and you are writing your dissertation, don’t give away all of your time. Let your class know what times you are available and stick to it.
- Have a ready list of things to do when you don’t feel like writing.
- Find a picture, theme song or something that reminds you that you are smart and confident. Keep it in front of you (even if it is a cape, tights, tiara, bracelets and lasso) as a constant reminder that you can finish your PhD.
- Eat your meals on a schedule so that even that is does not take your mental energy