A distracting, messy, and disorganized work environment can easily thwart your motivation to work on your dissertation and your productivity. Look at your desk, file drawers, how your files are organized on your computer, and your work environment as a whole. Ask yourself whether what you see is conducive to productivity and being motivated. Often graduate students avoid cleaning up and organizing their work environment because they keep telling themselves that they do not have time to do so. It is very easy to keep pushing aside piles of paper and ignore the mess in your office in pursuit of getting more dissertation work done. Yet the messy, disorganized environment may be interfering with your motivation and productivity. It is hard to focus and sustain motivation when it is difficult to find what you need in a chaotic, disorganized work environment.

The time it takes to organize your office, articles, books, data, and other dissertation materials is time well spent. I am not suggesting that you obsess about keeping a clean, organized work environment or let cleaning and organizing become a procrastination strategy. Rather, I recommend including time on your action plan at least once a week to clean and organize your office to prevent it from becoming cluttered and chaotic. If your work environment is currently in need of a lot of attention, it is worth dedicating the time you need to get your work environment in order. You will benefit in future work sessions for having taken the time to get organized.


This article was written by Alison Miller, PhD, owner of The Dissertation Coach, a business dedicated to helping doctoral and master's students successfully earn their graduate degrees.

Please visit thedissertationcoach.com for more information.

Copyright August 2007 by Alison Miller, Ph.D., The Dissertation Coach