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Staying Positive, Staying Focused in PhD Land

A bigger context, smaller planning
by

Cassandra Steer

on 29 January 2015

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Transcript of Staying Positive, Staying Focused in PhD Land

Staying Positive, Staying Focused
in PhD Land


2. Reality Check
1. MINDSET
Neuro-chemical Release = Experience
Oxytocin
Cortisol
Stress
Failure
Depression
Fatigue
Despair
Loss of focus
Winning
Achievement
Happiness/Love
Energy
Focus
High
Sleep and Productivity
Peak productivity: 10am - 12 noon
"Second sleep" around 14:30 - 15:00
NAP 15 - 20 mins
(but not longer!)
Second wave:
16:00 - 18:00
Most of us need 6 to 8 hours deep sleep: REM goes in patterns of 90 mins
Train our brains to release more oxytocin!!
How many hours do you spend on your research each day?
Generous:
5-7 hours for Research and Writing
Average = 3
Good day = 4
Excelling = 5
PRODUCTIVE HOURS:
Joseph Weiler, NYU PhD programme:
we tend to underestimate how long research/writing takes and overestimate how much we can realistically achieve
3. Planning Tools
Oxytocin vs. Cortisol
By giving everything a place in a plan, it's no longer "in my head". This reduces stress and I am left with the ability to focus on the single task at hand, with FULL attention.
Visual Planning Tools
Gantt charts
Outlook
Visual tracking (score sheet) of winnable:
long-term,
mid-term and
short-term goals
Xcel or Smartsheet
Training our brains to release more oxytocin, less cortisol
Every time you achieve something, reach a deadline, win your game, you release oxytocin.
This gives a high, a sense of winning, more energy to continue
1. Start from the bigger end-goals,
then PLAN BACKWARDS
2. Create major milestones that are winnable
3. From there create a weekly and/or daily plan
SMALL REALISTIC GOALS!!!
(e.g. read one article, write 2 pages)
The goal is to experience success every day
Plan in breakdown time - it is essential!!
Re-adjust the plan when you need to.
Keep it a structure of support, rather than a straightjacket of more deadlines
When you can see it, it is achievable
When you don't know what your goals are, nothing is winnable - you are left feeling lost, depressed, uncertain. CORTISOL
Digital tools
MUST HAVE's:
RefWorks / Bibtek / Zotero / Mendeley / Pages
- Filing system for resources and sources
- Footnote apparatus
These tools are essential NOW as part of managing your time and minimising your stress - as a habit and also for the final stages
How you play the game each day = how you will experience the end result
Reality Check:
Remember the peak productivity hours and the number of realistic productive hours per day!!
Cassandra Steer
McGill Institute of Air and Space Law
Final manuscript
Article publication
Chapter draft
e.g.
Chapter or section draft
e.g.
Blog post
Presentation at conference
e.g.
Read an article
Write x number of pages
3 hours reading
Why this works:
Word
Mindmapping
What are your concerns about doing a PhD?
Will I get it done on time?
Funding?
Will this help with my career?
Am I good enough?
Is it original - hasn't everything already been written on this?
How do I plan it?
How do I write it?
Did I pick the right topic?
e.g.
read x number of pages
write x number of paragraphs
MEASURABLE
Coggle mindmeister Freemind
Also: this is training for your life as an academic. How do you want that life to be?
Excel / Gantter (Google) / Smartsheet / Ganttproject.biz
We tend to spend our time focused on what's in front of us
It's not about the book!
WHY
are you doing a PhD?

Context determines quality of both the content and the experience
When you are chipping st
one
,
what are you actually doing
?
...building a cathedral?
...or...?
Pomodoro techinque:

Project management over 4 years
(or more?)
25 mins
20 - 30 min
break
5 min break
25 mins
25 mins
25 mins
5 min break
5 min break
Full transcript