The conference at Stony Brook is over and my confidence has been restored. Four days at the Center for Communicating Science has been invigorating.
I have been away from campus for the past three weeks. The campus is quiet and provides an opportunity for concentration and productivity. The weather is lovely, not too hot and the sun is shinning; these are the days I live for. I know some of you are thinking I should be outside enjoying the weather and frolicking in the grass. When you are writing a dissertation you do not have to spend the entire 24 hours writing. If you are honest with yourself you know you are not spending the entire day doing that anyway.
Are you making the most out of the time that you do have? Are you able to accomplish your goals even in the midst of a beautiful distraction? Are you still setting goals to help further your success? Have you improved your time management skills by scheduling free time? Face it, until you finish your dissertation you won’t have a free day without feeling guilty.
Can you spare 15 minutes of this beautiful day to work on your dissertation? If you accomplish something, i.e. cross something off your list, you can enjoy the rest of your day without the sense of guilt lurking in the background.
So graduate students, what’s on tap for today? In other words, what will you accomplish today? It’s June 14, 2011. Will you be finished by June 14, 2012? Today is a day not to be wasted. What can you get done on your dissertation today. What 15-minute item do you have on your list that can be crossed off by the end of the day?
Can you create your cover page? How about the acknowledgment page, List of figures, tables, graphs… Can you input 10 references into the bibliography? You can do something. If your answer is no I can’t; it means that the items on your list need to be broken down further into more manageable bite-size pieces. For example, if you want to complete a chapter start with an outline. That outline takes 15 minutes. Write the introduction; that takes 15 minutes. The introduction should tell the reader why he or she is reading this chapter and how it is different from the previous chapter. Also you should draw a road-map for the reader i.e. what should the reader expect to find in the forthcoming chapter. Here you can use the outline to describe the road map. After each statement be sure to address the question of why?
Set the timer. Ready, set, go.