Beat the Summer Doldrums

by | July 18, 2012

Here in Minnesota we are having a heat wave along with most of the country. It would be so easy to put the dissertation aside, to let the heat slow you down and to sip your iced tea while you watch the rest of the world go by.

Stop! Just because we are caught in the blistering heat covering the country this summer does not mean that we put the dissertation aside. No, this requires you to become creative and to think through new ways to stay cool – and productive – when you really want to slow down to a snail’s pace.

Think! How can you keep your mind on your dissertation instead of the heat – and the fact that we are well into summer? I am hoping that all of you either have air conditioning, or at least a room air conditioner in your home dissertation office. Fans are great – but not if you have stacks and stacks of carefully sorted articles and other resources. Whatever you do, do not give yourself extra work to do on a hot day. Better yet, spend some time in a coffee shop or a public library with your laptop. I know people who have written their whole dissertations in such venues.

On a hot day you need to be a cool customer. Get yourself a large glass of cold water, then sit down at your computer and take a few minutes to make a plan. What is the first thing you are planning to do today with your dissertation? Put together at least three specific items that you plan to pursue while you are working on your dissertation during the next few hours. You might choose to take a computer break after you complete each item because getting up and moving is important. Circle through the kitchen, pick up a piece of fruit or munch on some veggies. Refill your water glass. Then pound out the second item on your list. Repeat for your third item. Don’t be a bit surprised at your progress.

If you still have the motivation and are still feeling cool – keep on going! Crank out items four, five and six. Don’t stop just because you completed your initial assignment for the day. If you are on a hot streak – keep on working. Get another glass of cold water and keep right on going. Maybe that will help you knock out seven, eight and nine.

Before you know it, you will have made a great deal of progress. It will finally be time for you to put your dissertation aside until tomorrow. Before you do, make sure you write yourself a note about where you plan to pick up tomorrow and the specific tasks you plan to accomplish.

After all, tomorrow is another dissertation day.