As the holiday season begins, it’s time to take a break, reflect, and make a schedule for how you are going to finish out the academic year. If you will be graduating in May you will have to have a full draft of your dissertation by mid March early April. Between now and then there are many holidays in between. The reality is if you really are serious about graduating you will not be able to take full advantage of every holiday. You need to know how much time are you going to spend writing and how much time you are going to spend with your friends and family. This schedule is not something you make up as you go. You need to know ahead of time so that your family can have realistic expectations. Who in your family is your advocate; who really understands and will help you to explain it to your other family members?
Let’s face it; if you have been writing your dissertation for a long time there is no explaining what you are doing to your family. Although they want to understand and want to be helpful, they struggle with trying to figure out why you are not finish. Every holiday, every vacation, every month, every year, every day you are doing the same thing. To get your family to understand what it is you are doing you need to be honest about when you think that you are going to complete your degree. By now, words such as “next fall”, “next spring”, “next semester”, “next summer” are no longer convincing. Set a real deadline such as April 2, 2011 and post that deadline in a prominent place as a reminder to you and your family that you will be done and you are working toward a real goal.
Your family really wants to be supportive but they don’t know how. It is your job and your responsibility to tell them how they can help you finish your degree and help you meet this long-term goal.
Can they walk the dog, pick up the dry cleaning, grocery shopping, to give you and hour to write?
Can they schedule the kids’ doctor appointments so that you can get 2o minutes to write?
Read the kids a bed time story?
How about cooking dinner, or breakfast?
Can they alphabetize your bibliography?
What about formatting table?
What about editing?
Stop asking about the dissertation? graduation?
Figure out how your family can help you and let them. If you do engage your family in this effort you have a responsibility to be honest about your writing time. If your family members are willing to sacrifice some of their free time to help you; you need to protect your writing time and actually focus on writing. If they see you surfing the net, playing games, or sending emails they will not feel that you appreciate their effort or that you are really serious about completing your degree.