Roving and Dissertations

June 10, 2003, the Spirit Rover was launched, beginning NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover mission. Spirit outlasted all expectations. How can you ensure that your Spirit outlasts your dissertation committee’s resistance?…

Spirit’s mission, as originally planned, was to span 90 sols (Martian days). Instead, Spirit surveyed the surface of Mars for more than 1900 cols before becoming irretrievably stuck in soft soil. Even then, it continued to collect and transmit data from its stationary position for some 300 more sols.

Why did it last so long? Well, a number of unexpected “cleaning events” refreshed the solar panels and allowed them to work longer.

What, exactly, were these “cleaning events?” Well, just like the dust devils in deserts on Earth, Mars experiences frequent whirlwinds. When one of these happens to pass close enough to the rover, it blows accumulated dust off of the solar panels, enabling them to function more efficiently!

Now, you can’t rely on a Martian dust devil to give you a refresh. So, how are you going to make sure you stay in good operating condition while you finish your dissertation?

Remember, the dissertation is a marathon, not a sprint. You need to commit to the long haul. But, you also need to build in some breaks here and there.

I recommend that my Fast Track Your Dissertation students only work on their dissertations 5 – 6 days a week, at most. I want them taking at least one day off each week. This mini break allows them to recharge a bit on a frequent basis. But, it also serves a more important role, namely to ensure that there’s no guilt when the student does take a bit of time off.

Maybe you’ve got one of those activity-tracking watches or wristbands, or whatever. They can be great to motivate you to get up and move. But, they encourage you to keep your streak going everyday.

What happens if you miss a day? Well, you basically have to start your streak all over, again. It can be depressing and demotivating to try to start all over again.

I don’t won’t you to feel that way about your dissertation! Most marathoners taking walking breaks during the race. You don’t climb Mt. Everest without stopping at base camp. And, you shouldn’t trudge through the dissertation process, head-down, non-stop!

You can even take a longer planned break, like a vacation, at some point during the process. But, that planned break must include…and this is key…a specific date to resume work on your dissertation.

Maybe you taking off the first week of summer so you can hang out at the pool every night instead of working on your dissertation is what you need to recharge your batteries. Then, do it! Or, go on a family vacation. Take a trip. It’s fine!.

Just make sure that the break is scheduled into your dissertation plan just like the actual work. When the break is over, you’ll be refreshed and back to work without falling a single day behind schedule!

No guilt. No problem. You’ll feel like a sandblasted solar panel on a Mars rover. (That’s a good thing!)

Is it starting to feel like your dissertation efforts need a refresh? Then, 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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