To Write Or Not To Write Over the Holidays… And a Challenge!

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Should you work on your dissertation, research or publication over the holidays? This article will help you decide, and I even issue a challenge to help you stay motivated!

Should I Write Over the Holidays?

A common question from my clients at this time of year is, “Should I try to get anything done on my dissertation or article writing over the winter break?” Here is some help in making that decision, and methods to make sure that you have the optimum experience no matter what you decide. And then you can sign up for the Holiday Challenge!

If You Have to Work

Many of you, of course, will have deadlines from dissertation advisors, conferences or journals that will force you to work. Some would say that you’re lucky, since there is nothing like a deadline to focus the mind. Look over the work tips below to make sure that you get the most out of your work time, also.

The Decision

It might help you to make a “pro” and “con” list. Here are some possibilities for each side of the argument:

Pro Working

  • You will not lose momentum over the holidays
  • You won’t have that guilty feeling
  • You’ll get some work done!

Con Working

  • You might be burned out and need a break
  • You might try to work and then get nothing done and feel extra guilty

My Recommendations

  • If you are burned out, give yourself full permission to do no work at all for a certain period of time, then reevaluate. It is important to make a conscious decision that you will not work, otherwise that nagging sense of guilt could get in the way of clearing your mind.
  • If you decide to work (or if you are going to work once you’ve allowed your brain to recover from burnout), tackle it this way.
    • Set aside a small, reasonable period of time every day to work. Perhaps you’re a morning person and can do it first thing before others are up. Many of my dissertation coaching clients are like this. Others are like me, and prefer to work later in the day. Don’t promise yourself that you’ll spend 8 hours every Friday because you’re unlikely to want to do a marathon work session in the middle of a vacation. Here is a quote from one of my brilliant clients, in an email she wrote to the dissertation coaching group listserv:
      “I was able to read for about 5 minutes this morning before leaving for work. Doesn’t sound like much, but right now I’m just happy to be keeping my ideas alive and be feeding them, even just a bit at a time.”
    • Segment your work from your play. Promise yourself that you will only work for that specified, predetermined period of time.
    • Remove yourself from all temptations during that time period, including email.
    • Tell friends, roommates and family ahead of time what your work schedule will be and ask them to support you (i.e. not bother you) during that time.

The rest of the time is for guilt-free enjoyment. Whatever you do, don’t spend the holidays constantly saying to yourself “I really should be working.” This burden of doubt and self-loathing will only interfere with both your work and play.

If you can maintain this attitude, everything else you do will be gravy.

Above all, enjoy the break and your holiday!

Take Me Up On A Holiday Challenge!

I have posted a challenge on my blog. I invite you to write in the comments how much you will do on your writing, whether for your dissertation, research or publication, on a daily basis. All comments posted to my blog go immediately to my email. I’ll write you back with encouragement and advice. You’re also invited to write to each other for support. My group members use our listserv for this and it’s quite useful and effective!

Don’t go it alone! Join the fun. I’ve already posted my own writing intentions, so you can see whether I get anything done! (gulp)


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