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Get your doctorate moving again!

06 Jul 2022

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Are you a procrastinator?

Many of us have the tendency to put things off and no matter how often we beat ourselves up over waiting until the last minute to read that paper or write something for review. Then we struggle to get it all done in time, get stressed and down, but we keep doing it again and again. This tendency gets worse when you’re facing a lit review or another redraft of that chapter. If you’re ready to finally beat procrastination and get ahead of the game, you’re in the right place. 

Stop beating yourself up

With these blog posts, I’m going to share my best tips and strategies for overcoming procrastination with you and we start today with – Forgiveness. I know it seems like a strange place to start, but it’s an important first step. Here is why forgiving yourself for procrastination should always be the first step. 

Here’s the thing. There’s nothing you can do about the past except learn from it. Beating yourself up about not following the plan you made for reaching a goal does you no good. Quite the opposite actually. If you stress yourself out and engage in negative self-talk, you make it worse. Those feelings of anxiety will enforce your habit to procrastinate again the next time. 

When I was writing up my PhD, I got myself into such a state that I had to bribed – literally – to write. It was horrific, and it was avoidable. But I know that if I hang on to that feeling, it still haunts me now and keeps me locked in a state of fear – so this step is really important to be able to move past the fear of not getting things done.

Refine your keeping-going muscle

The next time you find yourself procrastinating, tell yourself that it’s okay. It’s not the end of the world. Say it out loud and then promise yourself to try to do better. Trying is the important keyword here. You’re working on mastering a new skills and changing a habit. That takes practice, time, and of course failing again and again. It’s part of the learning process. Working alongside others is a really helpful strategy – find out more about my CoWork Sessions to help.

You may feel frustrated at times about your lack of progress. It’s normal. If you can, tap into that frustration and use it to motivate you. Vow to try again and do better. Look at your mistakes. What caused you to procrastinate this time? Learn from it and you will start to do better. 

Practising good working habits goes some way to helping – I’ll be writing more about these shortly – and habits are really important when there are no other supporting structures around you (lookin’ at you, summer vacay!).

Recovering from a slip

Maybe you got going on planning, reading or writing like a champ, chipping away at it a little at a time. Then you missed a day, and another. That’s okay. Not great, but okay. You did well for a while. Consistency is the key with a doctorate, so working out routines that work for you to keep doing a bit each day is super-important.

There’s always something new to learn whenever we fail at something or slip back into a bad habit. At the very least we figure out that something isn’t working for us. Maybe you do better with three or less to-do’s per day. Maybe you need twenty-five so there’s always something to check off. You won’t know until you try. 

Follow this series for support in getting going again – let’s get to your next milestone with lots to show in your satchel!

If you’d love to explore the support I provide to help doctoral students finish their thesis – in spite of life happening and all the things – have a look around the website and contact me for a chat. You CAN finish!

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