Tips for Summertime Dissertation Motivation
May 29, 2018
The summer is (finally) sneaking up on us – barbeques, longer days full of sunshine and swimming and relaxing, and plans with family and friends. While it can be helpful to take time (think one day, not one month) to take a breather from work, using the summer as an excuse to stall work isn’t necessarily the best idea.
While we’re always here to help with editing, statistics, or formatting, we can also provide research assistance and dissertation coaching. In the meantime, here are some ways to help maintain your momentum with dissertation work.
As with your dissertation writing, sometimes it can be intimidating or overwhelming to look at a large chunk of free time (or time that is a bit less structured) and feel pressured about what needs to get done. Take a few minutes to make a list of goals you have for your work this summer. Break the summer down into months; for instance, maybe you want to get the bulk of your sources collected by the end of June, or you want to choose a theoretical framework by July. Break down bigger tasks and bigger chunks of time into smaller pieces to help it feel more manageable. This also helps provide guidance, because instead of simply saying “finish researching,” you’ll have something pointed, like “collect X sources on Y by the end of the month.”
Schedule, schedule, schedule
For many of us, the freedom of summer promotes relaxation, lounging around, and it makes it harder to be productive. To help you from shrugging your to-do list off until the next day (and the next, and the next), make a schedule on an actual calendar. Whether it’s on iCal, a paper desk calendar, Google calendar, or a pocket calendar, schedule times to work on the dissertation, times for reading or research, and times for editing. Keep a separate to-do list each day: itemizing what needs to be done and having a visual reminder can be super helpful – plus, there’s always that feeling of accomplishment when crossing something off!
Scheduling also refers to having a daily routine. Sticking to a schedule helps keep you organized, productive, and reinforces the fact that this is work, that it’s important, and it needs to get done.
…But don’t isolate yourself
Having a schedule is necessary, and it’s important to stay focused, but don’t isolate yourself, either. Pair up with a writing buddy once a week or every two weeks. This helps you keep each other accountable and getting feedback on writing can be very helpful. Discussing various approaches to tackling research and writing problems can also help you think critically about your own work, as well as provide inspiration for thinking outside the box.
Find a summer dissertation “camp” or fellowship
Check with your school’s financial aid office and/or writing center to see if there are summer “dissertation boot camps,” funding awards, or summer fellowships. Many schools have specific summer dissertation fellowships, and a summer boot camp focused on dissertations can help provide camaraderie, instruction, and help hold you accountable for producing new material.
While it’s important to continue to make progress with your dissertation work, it’s also important to get up from the desk and have some fun. Meet a friend for coffee and a movie — and don’t talk dissertation. Go for a bike ride or a long walk. Take a day trip with your family. Give your brain a break and you’ll be able to come back to your work refreshed and recharged, with fresh eyes and ready to dive in again. Sometimes some time away from the work is just what we need to get a second wind.
If you’re working on your dissertation over the summer, get in touch with us! Our team of expert editors can help with editing, formatting, and statistics – as well as research assistance and dissertation coaching.