It’s not unusual to have days that I don’t leave my house except to exercise and only see my husband and roommate.And when I do spend time with other folks—even academics—there’s no way they’ve thought as much as I have about, for example, how late-nineteenth-century American imperialism created the context for the era of big dam construction in the United States.To help with this, I’ve recently started using the Passion Planner, and I’m a huge fan.

It’s not unusual to have days that I don’t leave my house except to exercise and only see my husband and roommate.

This is dangerous for someone who lives near Boulder’s open space and likes hiking, and who is really good at productive procrastination (I might have done all the laundry and cleaned the kitchen, but written nothing for that chapter).

Because of this, I’ve found that I have to make a schedule—and stick to it—to give myself structure.

When I’m feeling like I’ve been a recluse I make an effort to schedule a hike or happy hour with friends outside of academia to remind myself that being a doctoral candidate is only one part of my identity, and that there’s a lot of ways to connect with people that don’t involve reciting the details of a letter you found in the archives that day.

It’s all a draft One of my biggest barriers to writing is, as I imagine it is with many people, getting started.

But I didn’t know how to put together an argument over 300 pages, or even what tools to use for researching and writing such a trial and error.

I’ve tested many different tools and work strategies, from the software I use to organize archival research and write my dissertation to the time management strategies that keep me on track, and I’ve found what works for me.

All of a sudden I found myself faced with what seemed like an almost insurmountable task—writing what is essentially a book—that my training hadn’t really prepared me for.

Yes, I knew how to research in the archives; yes, I knew how to write a well-crafted and convincingly argued seminar paper.

The planners also have monthly overviews and helpful goal setting prompts, which I’ve found particularly useful as I schedule out the final year of my Ph D.

For days that I’m having a hard time concentrating, I use the Pomodoro Technique to break my work into hour-and-a-half to two-hour chunks, with those further broken down into 25-minute stretches of full attention on work interspersed by five-minute breaks.


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