Make a Plan and Stick to It
Step 1. Identify Your Goals
Maybe you're very clear about what you want to accomplish this semester on your dissertation. But that's not the only thing you're responsible for. Get a complete picture of what you want (and need) to do by writing down your major goals in each area of life. Ask yourself:
Step 2. Break Your Big Goals Into Manageable Chunks
Ok, so you want to finish your proposal. But how much of what kind of work will that actually require? Now that you've figured out your major goals, break them down into chunks by asking yourself:
If this doesn’t work for you, go to the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity and check out the free Tele-Workshop Every Semester Needs a Plan.
Step 3. Estimate How Long You (really) Need to Meet Your Goals
The #1 challenge WriteOut!ers face is creating realistic goals that actually can be completed in the amount of time available. Now that you have a good idea of all the actual work involved in meeting your goals, come up with an accurate deadline for them by carefully considering the following questions:
- How much time do I have to devote to non-negotiable tasks (e.g. teaching, RAing)?
- How much time do I have (left) available each week to work on this project?
- What blocks of time during the week will I spend writing?
- How do I have to adjust my writing time to accommodate the time I'll spend on other tasks?
Step 4. Schedule Time to Work on Your Goals
Now that you have a plan, be sure to block out time on your calendar to implement it. Prioritize your writing time by treating it like a high-priority, non-negotiable appointment. Otherwise it's too easy to move it, then minimize it, then miss it altogether.
Step 5. Assess and Revise Your Plan to Fit Reality
Things Change. Writing takes longer than you think. Teaching is a time suck. Children won't sleep, no matter what you do or say. Your plan isn't a contract with Satan, it's a scheduled series of steps for completing your goals. Review it regularly to make sure you're on track and when you get off, scale back your goals so that they're manageable and realistic. You'll only be frustrated if you don't. And frustrated people have a hard time writing.