Friday, July 31, 2009

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

More on time managment

My friend Melanie Booth also writes a blog for students. Yesterday she posted the question "What can you do differently?" Melanie notes that typically when adults go back to school, they are asked "what will you give up?". She suggests that instead of giving up that which is important to us, we can instead change how we do things, thus finding that extra time that we need for school.

One of the changes that I made to snag more time for school was to use my lunch hours more constructively. Melanie talks about using her lunch hours for exercise. Throughout much of my degree program, I used a gym that wasn't near campus. I had gotten in the habit of eating lunch at my desk and spending random time online. So instead, I used a few lunch hours a week for "study hall." I took my lunch and school reading and found a quiet corner in our university center and completed a good chunk of reading.

Melanie's post is definitely worth reading, so check it out:

Cheering you on!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Time management

How specifically do you plan your study time? Do you determine ahead of time what you will work on, and when? Or do you just sort of know what you need to do and when you plan to work?

I have done both... there are times when I keep a mental list of projects and know when my work times are and then just start working.

I also reach times where I'm overwhelmed (or avoiding a specific piece of work!) and then I plan more specifically... marking time slots in my calendar for specific pieces of the work.

What works for you?

Cheering you on!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Saturday matinee

Today instead of a cartoon, I'm posting a video. Enjoy! Happy Saturday! And good luck with the work.


Friday, July 24, 2009


Greetings. Consider this post to be electronic greeting card.

Think of someone who has helped you along your academic journey... send her or him this post to say:


(just click on the little envelop with the arrow on it at the bottom left of this post, to forward it to someone else)

Photo by HLS

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

where to work?

Ok, I'm riffing off my friend Lisa's blog. A few posts ago she noted that her favorite work environment is somewhere beautiful, that she loves working when she can see the ocean or the mountains. I agree, those settings are ideal.

My question is... what are our ideal every day work settings? When we aren't traveling, but are at home, doing work in the midst of family and job obligations and we are working in the early morning, or evening or weekends... what are ideal work environments?

Keep at it!

Monday, July 20, 2009

A wonderful blog for doctoral and other grad students

Howdy, My close friend and colleague, Lisa Goldstein Graham, has begun working on her dissertation and is blogging about her process. Along the way, you'll see Lisa tackle serious issues like the pressure to write like an academic while you also enjoy her wonderful sense of humor. Check it out:


Saturday, July 18, 2009

Saturday matinee

Hi All,

Here's a little movie clip for your Saturday afternoon viewing enjoyment. Resolution isn't great, but it's a fun clip.


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Feeling isolated?

We all know that graduate work is going to be intense and well, a lot of work. Something we don't always anticipate is that it can also feel like an isolated, or solo, or lonely process. The research process in particular... one's first research project, a thesis, or a dissertation.... these endeavors can be a lonely road.

There are a few reasons for this. For one, when we are preparing to do research, conducting the research and writing, we have a ton of work to do, and typically, much of that is done alone. Thus we spend hours alone in the library, or in a home office, or at a desk somewhere... just working.

Secondly, we are typically more immersed in our topic than anyone around us and while this depth can be intellectually stimulating and exhilarating, I think that it also can contribute to feelings of being alone in the work.

Finally, there is often pressure with this work... deadlines to meet, a chairperson to work with, committee politics, a defense to prepare for... there can be a lot riding on the project and this adds stress and feelings of isolation.

There are no magic answers to resolve this completely. However here are a few ideas:

1. Find someone else who is also immersed in research and meet (or connect via phone or email) on a regular basis, maybe once a week or once every two weeks. This person doesn't necessarily need to be in your field. Just talking with someone else who is also immersed can be affirming and alleviate some of the isolation.

2. While you probably have less time to spend with family and friends, be sure to keep connected with at least a few of your closest peeps. You need this.

What have others figured out about why this work can feel isolating?

What are additional strategies to deal with these feelings of isolation?

Take good care,

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Dealing with burnout -- catch it early and take a break

Most of us hit stretches where we start to feel some burnout... tired of the work, sick of the topic, fed up with the reading.... and so on. When we notice these feelings, it is important to act quickly. The deeper the burnout gets, the more time it typically takes to recover. And we're about efficiency and staying on track.... so nip those burnout feelings early.

1. Take a day off. I don't mean take a day off and clean the house (unless that really fills your soul). Nor do I mean take a day off and catch up on other work. I mean take a day off for yourself. Do something that you know will help you relax, refresh, and re-energize.

2. Change the scenery. Think of somewhere you love that you haven't been for awhile... maybe it's the woods, or the beach...maybe it's your local amusement park or heck, even the mall. Go somewhere you love that will engage you such that you will focus on things other than school work. Stepping away from the desk and into a fresh environment can really help you separate from the work. This is important... go feed your soul.

3. Spend time with a person, or people, who give you good energy. Be with people who make you laugh and who think your jokes are funny too! Be with someone who really gets you.

These strategies won't resolve deeper burnout, but may help you regroup early when you are feeling those pangs of work fatigue.

What other strategies have you employed?


Photo by HLS

Monday, July 13, 2009

Inspirational summer reading

I just finished reading "Make the Impossible Possible" by Bill Strickland. This was one of those books that I didn't want to end. As many of you know, Bill Strickland is the founder and CEO of Bidwell Training Center and Manchester Craftsmen's Guild -- two organizations in Pittsburgh.

A preview of the book:
As president-CEO of Manchester Bidwell Corporation and its subsidiaries, Bill Strickland builds partnerships to help the disadvantaged build a better future. He's also the author of Make the Impossible Possible, which includes his story of how a kid from Pittsburgh's ghetto would go on to lecture at Harvard and serve on the National Endowment of the Arts board. The MacArthur Fellowship "genius" award winner is also founder of the Grammy-winning MCG Jazz, the most successful jazz subscription series in America.

Bill is an amazing person and his story is truly inspiring.

I know some of you are knee-deep in school work and if so, put this book on your after-I-graduate reading list. But if you are on summer break or are someone who likes to read something non-academic even while in school, I strongly recommend this one.

For more info on the book and on Bill's work:

Happy Monday!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Three for Free!

Here are three free online resources!

Wetpaint wikis -- free and ad-free for academic use! Looking to create a wiki for your class or study group or other academic endeavor? Set up a wiki with Wetpaint and then apply for ad-free status based on academic use:

Smithsonian Podcasts -- free podcast series on a variety of topics in culture, arts, and science.

Center for Creative Leadership Podcasts -- free podcasts on a range of topics including leading during turbulent times, women and leadership, conflict, and more.


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Dealing with "shoulds"

As some of you know, I was on vacation last week, enjoying the beauty and peacefulness of Provincetown, MA (I took the photo above from the wharf, on our last night there).

It rained the first few days, so we did a lot of sitting around and reading. I picked up a work of fiction that I had brought from home. With the exception of a book of short stories, this was the first fiction that I read in quite awhile as most of my reading energy had been focused on school (and with what was left, I typically chose magazines). Anyway, those first few days, I heard this voice in my head saying "you should read something educational." I don't usually have a lot of "should" voices in my head, particularly on vacation.. I'm pretty good at relaxing. But there I was, telling myself that I should be reading something "useful." (FYI, of course I think there is value in good fiction!).

Well, I finally talked myself out of that "should" debate and enjoyed the book. The whole thing led me to wonder, what other "shoulds" do I have floating around in my head that just aren't useful? How about you? Any "shoulds" that are getting in the way? Can you pick one "should" that you want to commit to leave behind?


Sunday, July 5, 2009

Learning to fly...

"It takes a push and a fall to understand how to fly."
-- Catie Curtis, singer-songwriter

Do these words resonate, or not quite?


Photo by HLS, Santa Barbara, CA

Friday, July 3, 2009

Reader Week 2009

Jammies or no jammies??

This from Donna in Pittsburgh....

"As you wake up Saturday, you realize that you must spend the day writing a paper for Harriet's class. Do not lounge around in your jammies. Get dressed! You will feel more energetic and soon sparks will be flying from the keyboard"

What about you? Do you work best in your jammies or sweats or does that make you feel lazy???

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Reader Week 2009

The Inner Critic

This submission from Lisa Graham of Birmingham.

My harsh inner critic is one of my biggest barriers to productivity. I quickly get frustrated when my work doesn’t progress as I planned or when I can’t seem to find that brilliant paragraph I know exists somewhere in the deep recesses of my brain, “Come on, Lisa, what’s your problem? This draft is terrible! You should be embarrassed to put your name at the top of this document!” And once this type of negative self-talk starts, it’s all downhill from there.

Interestingly, I find it much easier to offer kind words and encouragement to others than to myself. Based on what my clients and friends tell me, this pattern is pretty common. So, when I hit a stumbling block in my work process (procrastination, feeling overwhelmed, writer’s block, etc.), I ask myself, “What would you say to a good friend who approached you seeking advice about how to overcome this challenge?” Asking this question bypasses my inner critic and taps into my more reasonable and compassionate self. I’m usually able to come up with an idea – or at least a soothing message – that allows me to move forward. If you are prone to self-defeating inner dialogue, I suggest experimenting with this technique. Give yourself the same bear hug you’d give to your stressed-out best friend.

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The Encouragement Lounge by Harriet L. Schwartz is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.