Poisons and Dissertations

June 8th is Name Your Poison Day. If your dissertation is dying a slow death, it’s time to name your poison, and eliminate it!…

“Name your poison!” is a common refrain among bartenders. In general, folks use this expression, or “pick your poison,” as I’ve always heard it said, to refer to choosing the vices in which they’ll indulge.

This ironically cheerful statement reminds us that we know many of the things we enjoy doing aren’t really good for us, but we do them anyway! Today, for National Name Your Poison Day, let’s look at the most common dissertation “poisons.” Which of these may be standing in your way of finishing your dissertation?

As we make our way through the list you’re probably going to say, “But Dr. Strickland, these aren’t vices! These are important things that I have to do!”

OK. But, it’d be a bit silly for me to tell you to stop barhopping all night and playing video games all day. If you’re reading this blog, I highly doubt you’re doing those things and then wondering why you’re not further along with your dissertation.

No, these “vices” are a bit more subtle, things like: sleep, work, and family time…

I know, I know. Sleeping is necessary for life. Your job pays for the food you eat and the roof you sleep under. So, that’s a pretty high priority. Your family is precious and time with them is priceless.

However, for some people these areas might be the only places left to shave off a little extra time to work on their dissertation. So, you need to think long and hard about how to claim the time required to get your dissertation done.

Sleep: Could you sleep 30 minutes less each night for a year? Would it be worth it to you to lose 30 minutes of sleep so you can work on your dissertation later each night or get up 30 minutes earlier to work on it? This assumes you are not staying up late watching TV or reading the internet—if you are, that needs to go first!

Work: Again, be honest with yourself here. Are you using work as an excuse? Can you cut back on responding to emails in the evenings and still perform well at your job? Can you squeeze out 30 minutes to an hour of additional daily dissertation time without your performance suffering?

Family time: Man, this is a tough one! If you have young kids, they suck a ton of time. You love the little time suckers, but that time is important. Can you share some tasks with a spouse or other caregiver in a different way? Maybe you can pick a night or two (or three!) each week to leave the house right after dinner and go to a quite place to work to get an extra few hours of uninterrupted dissertation time. Only you and the other care givers in your life are going to be able to work this out.

If you can find an extra few hours a week that you can give up from your family time, wrestle away a few hours each week from “overtime” on your job, then add a few hours of lost sleep…suddenly you have the time to finish your dissertation!

You can do it! If you are relying on others to pick up the slack, that should be additional motivation to get down to business and get your dissertation done during the time you’ve set aside. So, pick your poison and get your dissertation done!

Speaking of vices, does your dissertation have your head in a vice? If so, click here to schedule a quick, 15-minute chat with me to see if you’re a good candidate for our Fast Track Your Dissertation Coaching Program. If you are, then I’ll invite you to join the fastest group of dissertation students out there and help you to reach graduation a good year or two faster than you would on your own.

If you need extra support and guidance to make it to graduation, I may be able to help. If you'd like to find out whether you qualify for the support we offer throughout the dissertation process, then...

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Dr. Russell W. Strickland

RUSSELL STRICKLAND, Ph.D., has been referred to as a “rocket scientist turned management consultant.” In truth, he applies an eclectic body of work from astronomy and nuclear physics to dynamic inventory management to market research to each of his student engagements.

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