Habits Can Be a Good Thing

Importance of Good Habits

“I never could have done what I have done without the habits of punctuality, order, and diligence, without the determination to concentrate myself on one subject at a time.” ~ Charles Dickens

Having good academic habits reduces the chances of making mistakes in your work. Attention to detail is critical in the dissertation process. 

Cultivate Good Habits To Replace Bad Ones

Car manufacturers responded to government mandates for seatbelts in cars and in turn, most of us started using them to avoid getting ticketed. Now, we probably don’t think about clicking that belt when we drive. A good habit that could save our lives and the lives of those we love. 

I picked up my granddaughter from volleyball practice and as we left the school parking lot, I used my turn indicator. She noticed there were no other cars in sight and asked why I did it. My response was simple: habit. 

The Same Thing Applies to Writing Habits.

  • Why do I use a spelling/grammar checker for most of my writing?
  • Why do I do a rough draft then reread it later?
  • Why do I ask my wonderful spouse to read what I wrote?
  • Why do I add a date to all my files?

Answer: habit.


Spend Quality Time on Your Dissertation

Another key to success in the dissertation process is spending the time necessary to complete dissertation activities. There are so many things to do to address current issues and plan for future ones that there never seems to be enough time.

Try approaching the time issue from a fresh perspective. While you need to spend 20-30 hours per week on dissertation activities, rethink the quality of the time you now have allocated.

Do These Things

Here are some things to consider:

  • Isolate. Do you isolate yourself from distractions such as email, cell phone calls and texts, and interruptions by others?
  • Organize. Do you have an efficient filing system for articles, notes, writings, and other pertinent documents? Can you readily sort through the mounds of notes, documents, articles, and other sources to find specific information?

The distractions and inefficiencies mentioned above will consume your time in small but significant “bites.” For example, if you have a 2-hour block of time to work and during that time, must answer two calls and spend 15 minutes searching for pertinent documents to help you write a draft, you lost 20 minutes of the two hours. Over five days, that amounts to 1 hr 40 minutes and over a month, roughly 6.5 hours! Find a place to work that is free of distractions, turn off the cell phone and close the email program before starting. Consider getting an effective filing and retrieval system (free or cheap). Above all, have at least two backup systems in place such as a cloud (Dropbox or Google Drive) and a thumb drive or external hard drive.

In summary: you are paying for the time so maximize it as much as possible to get the results you want.