The strategy of planning small actions to start the day is the practice of carefully identifying an action that will not require too much motivation to start your workday. When you are creating your action plan it is a good idea to purposefully plan an action that is small and specific as a way to begin your dissertation work on any given day. Clearly identified, small tasks to begin your work day can make it easier to warm up to working through a given work session. You may feel more motivated because it seems realistic that you can accomplish the task. You can clearly see the beginning and end of the task and can imagine yourself completing it. For example, if you wake up in the morning and your first action is to read 10 pages of a chapter or revise 2 pages of your literature review, it is easier to get started with less dread or hesitation than if you are instructed to read an entire chapter or to revise a major section of your literature review. Of course, I know this is just a game of semantics but I encourage you to try it. See for yourself if starting the day or work session with a smaller action helps you feel more motivated and leads to greater overall productivity.

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.

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