It is mid-summer and many of you might have had some plans in mind for your academic work. There’s still time! Whether you’re planning on knocking out a rough draft of a chapter or two of your dissertation, making some headway with your research, or even just wanting to get to a reading list of yours, it can be hard to find the motivation to actually do it. With the warm sun tempting you, the call of endless movie marathons on television, and the possibilities of summer ahead of you, it can be hard to make the choice to stay inside and work. We get it. We’ve been there – seriously, we have. All of us. But we also know that getting things done over the summer, even if it seems marginal, can be a big help once fall comes around and your schedule suddenly fills up.
So how can you maintain your motivation this year? We touched on this last year in this blog post, but we’re back with some more tips – check it out below.
Keep your eye on the prize. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t get everything done immediately. Things take time. Set small, reasonable goals – check out our blog post on this here – and even if you have a setback or two, the important thing is to keep moving forward. You will have setbacks; it’s just part of the process. How you handle them is what’s important. If you find you need extra assistance, contact a professional editing service like Dissertation Editor.
Make it a job. Even if it’s finishing a reading list (self-directed or assigned) or revising a chapter, treat your work like…well, WORK. This is, in a sense, your job until you have your doctorate in hand. Treat it as such. You can’t just not show up to work, can you? (Well, you could, but you wouldn’t have your job for very long). Set up a schedule for yourself that you know you can stick to. Use a paper planner, iCal, Google calendars, whatever works for you. If you have a classmate that lives nearby or a friend who also needs to work on a project, make a standing work date to hold each other accountable. Tell your friends and family you are working and stick to it.
Plow through blocks. If you end up getting stuck with an aspect of your work, that’s okay. It’s summer, so there’s likely a little less pressure right now – which is one of the perks of working on it now. Take a breather, put it aside for a bit, and find something else on your work to-do list that doesn’t take as much effort. Don’t skip that day’s work session or blow off work the rest of the week; simply find something else to focus on – you might find that your brain untangles whatever block you were stuck on, and when you return to it, it won’t be as troubling.
Keep in touch with your advisor/chair. They won’t be around as much, most likely, but it’s a good idea to occasionally check in with them. You can even ask if you can email them small increments of what you’ve been working on, or keep them abreast of your progress over the summer. This way, if they haven’t heard from you in a while, they’re more likely to email you and hold you accountable. They can also be a good source of information, if they’ve come across something that might be of interest to you.
Treat yourself! It’s simple social psychology: don’t underestimate the power of rewards. Yes, your work is inherently rewarding in its own way, BUT….little rewards for meeting goals you’ve set is also nice and a good motivator. This can be something as simple as indulging in your favorite gourmet coffee concoction at the local coffee shop or going to see the latest blockbuster film. It can be a road trip to visit a friend on a weekend off from work. Find what works for your budget, schedule, and what will get you motivated. Even if it’s a promise to yourself that after every few pages of writing or editing, you’ll take a walk around the block, this might just be what you need to push through a little more and meet your goal.
Remember that it’s summer. It’s important to take breaks. They’re necessary for physical and emotional health, and can actually make you more productive. Don’t forget to schedule in down-time and relaxation for yourself. Have lunch with friends, watch your favorite shows, go to the gym, spend time with family, read a non-school book or four – you just might find that when you come back to your work, your brain and body are refreshed and your motivation is renewed from your time away.
If you’re floundering with getting organized this summer, need guidance to work out a summer work plan, or are searching for assistance with editing, formatting, or data analysis, we can help! Although it’s summertime, Dissertation Editor is here year-round with a range of services to assist you in meeting your academic and professional goals. Contact us today to learn more!