As you are working on your dissertation, you will likely encounter moments that seem to occur out of the blue when suddenly you do not feel like working on your dissertation another minute. This desire to stop working is often fueled by fatigue, boredom, anxiety, or feeling inadequate. In those moments, see if you can push through and do something such as write a few more sentences, enter a little more data or read another paragraph. When it comes to writing, many of my clients have developed a “push through” habit that involves the practice of writing at least a few more sentences or moving on to another topic, outline point, or section when the drive to write seems to wind down.

What my clients tell me is that they are often surprised by their ability to write more than they expected and the desire to stop working passes. Somehow the act of writing just a little bit more helps them move past the momentary desire to do something else. If you are honestly at a point where your energy and focus for dissertation work is expended, it is of course okay and even wise to stop. It may even be important to stop as a way to preserve your energy for the next day of work (Bolker, 1998). If you decide to stop writing, I recommend you write some notes to yourself about where you are ending and where you want to pick up your work the next day. It will be easier to make the transition back to your dissertation work if you have a written reminder of where you left off and where to get started.

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