Building and sustaining motivation to work on your dissertation requires that you take good care of yourself throughout the dissertation process. In fact, I believe that self-care is so important that the last chapter of this book is dedicated entirely to the subject. Each week I encourage you to think about what you need in the way of meaningful time away from your dissertation to feel rested, energized, and motivated when you create your action plan. Do you need to plan time to meditate, read for pleasure, watch your favorite television show without guilt, or engage in hobbies you love? Do you need exercise to feel good and combat stress? Do you need to make sure you start getting to bed earlier and change your sleep habits? Do you need regular time with friends or family? Think about the key activities that relieve stress, give you pleasure, and energize you so that you are ready to work each day. Make sure you plan time for those activities. You may think you do not have time. I would argue that the opposite is true. By ignoring your own needs for self-care, you likely end up procrastinating in an effort to give yourself the break from your dissertation you legitimately need. Planning and taking down time is actually a proactive strategy that can help you avoid procrastination and feel more motivated when it is time to sit down and get some meaningful work done.

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