Vampires and Dissertations
April 19th is National Garlic Day, which is of course the very best day for talking about how to ward off vampires! But, what do vampires have to do with my dissertation? Inquiring minds want to know…
According to Urban Dictionary, a time vampire is “Something or someone who literally sucks your time like a vampire sucks blood.”
Do you have any time vampires keeping you from finishing your dissertation? If so, what are you going to do about it?
For National Garlic Day, go on and throw a string of garlic around your neck, and you’ll be well on your way to completing your dissertation!
Right?…If only it were that easy.
Here are some real time vampires and how to keep them from sucking your dissertation dry in no time:
Not having a plan.
Do you have a research plan?
Do you have a timeline for when you should reach each of your milestones?
For that matter, do you have milestones?
If you don’t, it’s so incredibly easy to get off track, because you don’t even have a track. Before you know it a huge amount of time has been sucked away.
Most of us have been conditioned to work towards deadlines. It worked for you in when you were taking classes. Right?
So, set some for yourself! Create a plan with incremental deadlines and work the plan. If you get off track, make a new one and get on it right away.
Trying to be too original.
Yes, I know your advisor told you that you have to make an original contribution. But, that doesn’t mean completely original. You’re not supposed to be reinventing the wheel, here.
So, be careful you aren’t wasting too much time trying to come up with the most original thing. Just find a topic that has been investigated before, and build upon the work the person before you did. This is how science works.
Even an absolute genius like Sir Isaac Newton attributed much of his success to the fact that he himself stood “on the shoulders of giants.”
What are the questions you have after reading other dissertations that remain unanswered?
What items did the author actually identify as areas for future research?
These are the very seeds that have sprouted countless dissertations in the past. Perhaps one of them can grow into your original dissertation.
Trying to be too complicated.
Scope creep is one of the worst time vampires of all! I know that you have lots of cool ideas and tons of interesting questions. That doesn’t mean that you have to put every single on into your dissertation.
Don’t be so greedy! Leave some ideas for the next doctoral candidate that comes along.
You simply need to develop a tight research plan. Put a box around it and get it done.
Come across a cool new idea? Is it in the box or out of the box?
Not in the box? Then, not right now! You have a dissertation to get done!
Focus slays the scope-creep time vampire. No garlic required.
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