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Showing posts from 2006

Ten Ways of Thinking that Lead to Procrastination

Ten Ways of Thinking that Lead to Procrastination
(And Rebuttals to Those Thoughts)


I need to warm up first by writing some email.
Rebuttal: You can warm up by starting the work slowly, making a list of what you will do, reading over your notes or writing from yesterday.

I’m not in a good mood and I don’t write well when I’m not in a good mood – I’ll do it later when I feel better.
Rebuttal: Nothing will make you feel as good as getting something done. The main reason for your bad mood is that you don’t really want to do this task, so getting it out of the way will feel great.

Life is so hard – I can’t believe I have to do this unpleasant task. I’ll even it out by doing something more fun first.
Rebuttal: Yes, life is hard, and it’s terrible that you have to do this task. That’s why you will reward yourself after you do the task. Otherwise you’re applying backwards conditioning, which doesn’t work. And don’t forget to plan enough fun and relaxation time into your schedule.

I’ll definitely do …

Shake it off and move on...

A member of my current teleclass just posted this lovely story, which should be inspiring to any academic dealing with the dirt shoveled on them by daily life.


One day a farmer's donkey fell down into a well. The animal cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do. Finally he decided the animal was old and the well needed to be covered up anyway, it just wasn't worth it to retrieve the donkey. He invited all his neighbors to come over and help him. They all grabbed a shovel and began to shovel dirt into the well. At first, the donkey realized what was happening and cried horribly. Then, to everyone's amazement, he quieted down. A few shovel loads later, the farmer finally looked down the well and was astonished at what he saw. With every shovel of dirt that hit his back, the donkey was doing something amazing. He would shake it off and take a step up. As the farmer's neighbors continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal he would shake it off …

Where are people reading my blog from?

Conquer the 3 P's: Perfectionism, Procrastination, and Paralysis

Because of the ongoing popularity of an article I wrote last year called "The 3 'P's'-- Perfectionism, Procrastination and Paralysis," I decided to give a teleclass series on this subject.

You can read about it here.

Without a doubt, I believe that perfectionism, and the underlying insecurity that feeds it, is the main reason that so many academics end up stalling out on their writing projects.

I invite you to join us in this teleclass. The last teleclass series I gave, I can say with all modesty, was a smashing sucess. People really enjoyed the online progress page where we all posted our daily writing successes and difficulties, and a surprisingly active forum sprang up in the 6-day time period between the two classes. This time there will be 2 weeks, so more opportunity for learning and interaction. And of course, e-coaching from me. So check it out!

Finding time to write is the biggest problem

I just checked the poll I ran a couple of weeks ago. I asked what you dreaded the most about the upcoming semester. Almost 60 have voted. "Not enough time to write" came in first by a landslide. More than 50% chose that alternative over "teaching prep," "meetings," "dealing with students," "grading," and "job applications."

So what to do? Well, for a start, why not sign up for my 2-session teleclass, "Start the Semester 'Write?'"

Over 20 people have signed up so far, and some have registered for the webpage where we're going to log our daily progress. They have checklists, schedule forms and graphs for taking control of the writing progress. And on Tuesday we're going to get started! So check it out and sign up now!

Why professors work so hard

An interesting article on the second page of the Washington Post today:

"In Today's Rat Race, the Most Overworked Win"
Most pertinent to professors is the following section:

Some economists, sociologists and psychologists say the paradox arises because of the changing nature of the workplace. In a growing number of professions, especially those that involve thinking and social skills, managers and owners find it difficult to measure the day-to-day performance of employees.

When employees make tangible products, it is easy to measure performance based on the quality of the products. But when work is intangible and involves aesthetics, judgment or social networking, employers do not have easy ways of measuring how important such activity is to the bottom line, Cornell sociologist Marin E. Clarkberg said.

"When you have an undefinable product, there is a temptation to measure output in terms of hours," she said. "In law and a lot of amorphous professions, when you…

What to do about changing your name after marriage

A reader just wrote an interesting question. She is a postdoc with 10 publications under her belt. She writes
"...while I have started using my married name in my social/personal life, I am still in two minds about the idea of changing my name for the purposes of publication.

I wondered if you had any thoughts on this and if there was a 'rule' of sorts in academia about how many papers is too many to change your name. I am still early in my career, so I wondered if you had any thoughts or advice for me on this topic. I don't know anyone who's married after they've started publishing, so I don't have any friends or colleagues I can ask for advice."
She goes on to say that she's thinking of using a hyphenated name for publishing purposes, combining the name she has published under already with her married name. I think this is a good option.

What have others done, and what's your opinion on what works best?

One Road to Publishing More

An interesting tidbit today in Inside Higher Ed. In "Sociology, Gender and Higher Ed," Scott Jaschik reports on some research presented at the American Sociological Association Convention in Montreal.

Erin Leahy, Jason Crockett and Laura Hunter of the University of Arizona investigated whether increasing one's area of specialization improved productivity, and whether it helped men more than women (their hypothesis).

The trio of scholars followed the careers and publication records of a group of sociologists and linguists expecting to find that men benefit more than women do from specialization. In fact, they found that specialization had the most impact (for men and women) on productivity: the more specialized scholars are, the more papers they published. In terms of measures of visibility within a field — a measure that could lead to promotion or job offers elsewhere — the research found that women benefit more than men from specialization.


Maybe it's time to ask yours…

How to rework some writing that's not working

Here's how one new faculty member worked on turning her dissertation into an article. It's way better than staring at a computer screen and swearing.

I don’t want to jinx it, but may have had a breakthrough with the article I’m working on. Earlier this week/last week, I pulled out a big section of chapter 1 of my diss to serve as the introduction/lit review of my article, and I started working on trimming and condensing it (since I need it to be way shorter for an article-length piece).

But. It wasn’t really gelling. It seemed kind of disjointed, not entirely relevant to my article (but OK for the diss), and very dissertationy (not surprising, given the source).

Frustrated, I spent a chunk of Wednesday outlining the material in its current form. This is my fall back strategy when I’m stuck: I gloss the text, writing short descriptions of what each paragraph is focused on; then I compile those descriptions so I can read an overview of the whole piece and get a better sense of its…

The Academic Brain

This is how your left hemisphere looks most of the time.



Your Right Hemisphere, on the other hand, can feel peaceful, think about the big picture, and take disparate thoughts and connect them up, in order to create new ideas.The trick is to figure out how to get them talking to each other.

To learn more about my neuropsychological take on the academic brain, see my newsletter, coming out on Thursday morning. Be sure you're on the mailing list -- sign up on the Academic Ladder home page.

Free 20-minute coaching sessions -- limited time offer

Are you having trouble moving forward on your dissertation and wondering what it's like to work with a dissertation coach? Are you unsure what a dissertation coach does and how a coach could assist you to make significant and sustained progress to your degree?

Now you can experience the benefits of working with a coach through a free 20-minute coaching session. Find out for yourself if working with a dissertation coach is the answer for you.

For the next two weeks Jayne London, my associate in The Academic Ladder, is offering complimentary 20-minute dissertation coaching sessions. This is a fantastic opportunity for you. Read what other graduate students have said about working with Jayne:


The suggestions you made earlier this week made my work come together perfectly. It probably saved me three to five days or more of wheel spinning and over-planning.
Dee McGraw, doctoral candidate, Emory University

Jayne has enabled me to eradicate old, ineffective ways of working and develop new em…

Increase your self-efficacy and increase your motivation

My newsletter today is about flagging motivation, and how increasing your self-efficacy can improve your ability to stay motivated throughout the dissertation and the rest of your career.If you are interested in assessing whether you need to work on your own self efficacy, check out my "Academic Self-Efficacy Assessment." It is based on research by R. Schwarzer and M. Jerusalem.
Here are some suggestions as to ways to improve your own self-efficacy. This is absolutely vital if you are going to enjoy and flourish in academia.
Imagine yourself succeeding. Be very specific and as visual as possible. E.g. See your self at faculty meetings, teaching, being called “professor” or “doctor.” Imagine people congratulating you on your success.
Be very careful about what you say to yourself about “failure” experiences. Notice that you probably never actually fail. You were not 100% terrible at what you did. Indeed, you might have made several mistakes, but that is not a failure. For exampl…

Success in Graduate School With ADD -- The Teleclass

Here is the audio of the teleclass we held today on ADD in graduate school. There was a tremendous amount of interest in this subject. I've noticed that there is very little information available specifically tailored to the graduate student. Feel free to listen to the class, and see the previous post if you are moved to commit to an action step!




If you are moved after listening to this teleclass to get some help in adding structure, support and accountability to your graduate school experience, contact my associate, Jayne London. She has just started a telephone coaching group specifically for graduate students with ADD. Her email address is Jayne@AcademicLadder.com.

ADD and Graduate School

We're having our "Success in Graduate School with ADD" teleclass today, and I'm going to be asking people to commit to one action step that will help them surmount the symptoms of ADD and make progress in their work. Even if you didn't attend the teleclass, you can write in a commitment to taking one small step that you might not otherwise have done.

Action steps should be small and discrete. "Write one chapter" is not an action step. "Write for 20 minutes" is an action step. You could also expand this by committing to "Write for 20 minutes with Internet turned off on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, finishing by 11:00 am."

Put a time that you will complete your action step by, such as "Today by 4:00" or "Thursday at noon." That way you will be able to know that you accomplished it. This also gives you a deadline.

Your action step could also involve putting structures in place. This could include such items as "Fin…

Why Are Academics So Anxious?

What Ph.D. Students Really Have to Fear

Here is an article from Slate on the fluctuating job market for academics in economics. I think the statistics would probably look the same for any field, though. It's called "What Ph.D. Students Really Have to Fear," and it's written by Joel Waldfogel. The gist is that if you are unlucky enough to graduate in a down cycle of the job market for your field, and you are not hired by a university of the same prestige level that you could have been hired by during an upswing in the market, you can expect to stay at a lower level throughout your career.
One interesting fact, though, is that the ones who were hired by more prestigious universities published more during their career. The author suggests that the better journals are more likely to publish articles from authors at prestigious universities. I'd be interested in the details of that statistic -- what I wonder is whether the more prestigious schools apply more pressure to publish in order to achieve tenure.
In …

Academic Distraction Disorder (Google Subtype)

In Praise of Simple Language

Here is part of a post from Daphne Gray-Grant.
Do you think using long words makes you look smart? Daniel Oppenheimer knows it doesn't. A professor of psychology at Princeton University, he is the author of a new study to be published in a recent edition of Applied Cognitive Psychology. The study goes by the amusing title: Consequences of Erudite Vernacular Utilized Irrespective of Necessity: Problems with Using Long Words Needlessly.
But the study's findings are anything but funny for wordy writers. In a series of five experiments, Oppenheimer found that readers tend to rate the intelligence of people who wrote essays in simpler language, as higher than those who used more complex words. Yes, higher. Interestingly, the same "halo" effect applied to people who used simple fonts. The simpler the fonts, the more intelligent the writers were thought to be.
"One thing seems certain," says Oppenheimer. "Write as simply and plainly as possible and it's more…

Academia and free time: The tyranny of freedom

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the challenges facing professors in the summer. They have what I call the “tyranny of freedom.” Unlike most people who work 9 to 5 and have 2 weeks off in August, professors can pick and choose (to some extent) what they want to accomplish in the summer. Of course, for some, that means, as one of my professor clients pointed out, trying to fit what they should have done during the whole academic year into the summer months. And others commit themselves to chapters, papers, and conference presentations that loom large as the summer progresses.

So there’s this luxury of being able to spend your time doing what you want to do. But, as another client so beautifully stated, “this open space is crushing me.”

Because of this luxury of time, the academic has to take responsibility for how to shape his or her life. That can mean imposing a schedule or timeline on oneself, or the opposite – spending your vacation piddling your time away with guilt hangi…

Countries I've visited

Can you tell I like to travel?


create your own visited countries map

Just filling in the countries that I've visited makes me want to get on a plane. My favorite place to visit, by far? Italy, of course!

Advisor Teleclass

Jayne and I have scheduled a teleclass/interview on how to manage your relationship with your advisor. It will be on May 15, Monday, at 1:00 Eastern. I personally have seen how many of my clients get themselves into hot water because they don't have the knowledge or skills to communicate well with their advisor. Don't make the same mistake!
Oh, and we'll be recording the teleclass so don't worry if you can't make the class -- you can download the recording later or listen to it online. Here is the link: http://advisor.notlong.com

Coaching Associates

Because of the growth of my coaching practice, I'm going to be taking on associate coaches to work with me. It's hard to turn away referrals -- every client is so intensely interesting to me -- but I must!

I've found a great person -- Jayne London. She is the Manager of Graduate Student Life at the University of Michigan Rackham School of Graduate Studies. She has a deep wealth of knowledge about what problems graduate students (and also their advisors) run into, and she knows how to help them. I've received amazing references from Jayne's colleagues and advisees, so I'm thrilled to be working with her.

I plan to interview Jayne in a teleclass at the end of next week, so stay tuned to an announcement. We'll be talking about the sometimes thorny issue of how to optimize your relationship with your dissertation advisor.

I'm also excited since this will be my first teleclass! It will be fun to interact with my readers and "fans" (yes, I get fan mail…

Taking My Own Advice

I'm realizing that creating a membership website (a task that I've been working on for about 8 months) has a lot in common with writing a dissertation or publishing a book.

It's big and overwhelming
There are not clear guidelines
It's hard to know when it's good enough
It's easy to get isolated when you're working on it
It's hard to do without feedback from others
So I've decided I need to start posting more about the process, and trying to get feedback both here and elsewhere.
Here are some of my thoughts:
Academics can be isolated
Academics feel overwhelmed
Academics often think they are the only ones who feel that way, partly because they are isolated, and because they are afraid to share their feelings with other academics
Therefore academics need a safe place to go to share these thoughts, and to get feedback, encouragement, and "end the isolation."

My membership site, tentatively named Cafe Academia, will offer such an environment. I'm think…

I'm back from "Blogger Hell" ... or "Help"

Although in general I don't think people should apologize for not writing in their blogs, I feel I owe an explanation for my absence beyond the vacation.

In summary, IT'S NOT MY FAULT!

I have just gone through "Blogger Hell." For some reason, I've been unable to publish my posts. The previous post has been in the system for a long time, and my wondrous webmistress, Kera, just managed to iron out the strange inner workings of Blogger and publish it.

I've had the opportunity to wander the dark and narrow corridors of "Blogger Hell" or "Help," as they call it. It involves discussion boards full of postings that begin, "Help! The Help Desk at Blogger won't write me back! I can't publish my blog!" They even have a special purgatory area for people who can't publish their blog. I wrote them twice and never got a human reply, just the automated kind that appears two seconds after you write.

I especially feel bad that I wa…

Write Your Daily "*#*#*@*"

I just returned from a month in South America. We had the pleasure of getting to know two brilliant professors while we were on the trip. I enjoyed hearing about their writing process.

The husband has always been a prolific writer. He writes on a daily basis, and is not that self critical when writing his first drafts. The wife, on the other hand, admits to being a perfectionist. She tends to worry over getting each sentence just right. She has just published her first book, which she wasn't able to finish until she retired. The irony is that she is clearly extremely intelligent, articulate, and brimming over with ideas.

Clearly, Robert Boice, who studied professors and their writing habits, was correct. Write daily, and don't be too hard on yourself.