A brilliant colleague of mine -- who is finishing her dissertation -- made the brilliant observation that there is a difference between procrastination and concentration.
She said that she puts off doing her work, but once she's settled down she can power forward for hours. It's true. I have seen her do it.
Leading a Dissertation Writing Intensive this week at Point of View (the School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution's beautiful Lorton, VA center for peace), I observed exactly what she meant.
Some people just have a hard time sitting down. Once seated, however, they can dive in and plow forward.
Other folks tend to procrastinate because they cannot concentrate. They do not know what to do when they sit down. Even if they can get their butt in the chair, the question becomes "What to do?"
If you are in this group -- the one that avoids sitting down because you're scared and do not know how to move forward, here are a few suggestions...
Writers! What To Do When Paralyzed By Fear
1. Find someone you can talk to about your project. Just 15 minutes with your committed member can get you moving. Of course, because I am a writing coach, I believe in having a coach you can work with that is not your committee member. Sometimes it makes the most sense to save your committee member for the intellectual content not overwhelm issues. (For coaching information email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
2. Break down the day's task into really small pieces. The night before you work, write down in as much detail as you can what you will do tomorrow.
Don't write how long you will work, just what you will do.
Examples of specific tasks:
3. Meet a friend and set very short time goals. This worked for my colleagues and I. The past two weeks we have been working together, setting the timer for 25 minutes and then diving in. The shorter bursts are easier and less overwhelming. Invariably, once the timer is off we want to keep going.
Sarah Federman, PhD