Day 6 - No Blog. I actually spent the entire day reading this book and getting out of my funk over my dissertation block. The good news is, IT WORKED. And that is today's blog:
Day 7 - Finding my way out of the fog of fear.
I have been stuck, frozen by fear about starting my dissertation. For. Months. And now I know (see link above) that I AM NORMAL (well, for a PhD Candidate, anyways). And I have a plan or a plan-for-a-plan in any case.
The book, Finish your Dissertation Once and For ALL!, by Allison Miller, Ph.D. tackles the psychological barriers grad students face and then tells you how to get over them. Honestly, reading this book was a revelation. I am ok, doing what happens to a lot of PhD Candidates, and now here is how I proceed to get out of it and write already! Below is my unpolished synopsis to my friend Robin who has agreed to be my "firm and supportive" person of accountability. It was recommended by the author NOT to choose your spouse/long-term partner, because that is a whole 'nother pile of trouble... But to ask some one you know will hold you accountable, not badger you, not enable your procrastination, and will be supportive.
Robin is my dissertation bra! HA HA :D
Ok, the rundown on this whole timeline/milestone/action plan stuff I am working on today: It is the project manager aspect of the dissertation process. The timeline is exactly what you think it is and I kinda-sorta have that already. Milestones are things I want to accomplish WEEKLY to hit my timeline goals. There should be 3-4 milestones per week and they incorporate dissertation & non-dissertation items, for example: Write literature review on Critical Theory and Gender, Organize registration items for SHD Meeting, and Prepare outline for Chapter 6.
So then the Action Plans are daily plans to get the Milestones accomplished on time( with a specific end date). For example:
- Monday 8/27 - Read & summarize articles X & Y, and chapter 4 in Book Z; create Excel file for SHD registrations
- Tuesday 8/28 - Teach, hold office hours, prep Thursday's lecture; deposit SHD checks at bank; Trivia Night @Bentley's
- Wednesday 8/29 - Read & summarize articles A, B, & C and incorporate into writing on X, Y, & Z; writing night w/Robin
- Thursday 8/30 - Teach, hold office hours, prep Tuesday's lecture; Look at Ch 6 in prospectus and gather materials; reassess weekly plan & update as needed
- Friday - 8/31 - Read & summarize ch 7 in Book X and incorporate into literature review; update SHD file with new registrations; Prepare Ch 6 outline
- Saturday - 9/1 - Review/edit Critical Theory & Gender lit review and see if it needs beefing up. Evening out with Lupe.
- Sunday - 9/2 - Laundry, finish up Ch 6. outline; prep milestone & action plan for next week and e-mail to Robin & Demhardt.
So, something along the lines of the above. There are a few types/styles given in the book, some more and some less structured. I am going to start with the more structured one. It is literally by the hour.
8-9am - breakfast & check e-mail
9-10 Shower, dress, make bed
10-12 run errands & grocery shop,eat lunch
1-5pm Daily action plan (can break down further - 1-2 SHD, 2-5 lit review)
5-6pm prep and have dinner
6-10pm Trivia Night @Bentley's.
I think a very structured approach to my days are going to be in my best interest. It makes me accountable for my time, all of my time - I am even supposed to schedule in exercise and "self-care" time (naps, movies, manicures, time with friends, etc. so I stay balanced and don't burn out.)
The plans are also to be revisited mid-week to see if they need to be restructured... i.e. did chapter 4 in book Z take a long time to read, did the writing get pushed to a different day? Rearranging is fine, but updated plans have to be made to hit the milestones on time, so the timeline goals are met, etc. Then, after a few weeks, I can see if I am over- or underestimating my work abilities and can adjust future plans accordingly.
I am excited about this because for the first time in this ENTIRE process I feel like I have a direction. I finally FEEL like this is something I can actually accomplish. Sounds silly, but it is true. It is like a weight has been lifted and I am able to get going.
PS Just typing this all out to you has really reaffirmed that I: understand the process as laid out in the book, am not afraid of the dissertation anymore, and really think I can do this now!
So there ya go. AND I'M OFF.... to get to work, so until tomorrow (or the next day - HA!)
Disclaimer: I bought and read the book mentioned above on my own and all thoughts and interpretations of its contents are my own. I received no compensation or incentive to read and (sort of) review the text.