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I also turn my phone to airplane mode and close my email when I’m not doing administrative tasks—i.e., when I’m reading, working through archival sources, or writing.

I also turn my phone to airplane mode and close my email when I’m not doing administrative tasks—i.e., when I’m reading, working through archival sources, or writing.

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To help with this, I’ve recently started using the Passion Planner, and I’m a huge fan.

The weekly layout that has each day broken down into half-hour blocks lets me schedule exactly when I’ll get that conference abstract done and when I’m going to take two hours to write about Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan’s irrigation history (fascinating, I know) for Chapter 2.

I often find myself hindered by a desire to write the perfect sentence or paragraph the first time I put pen to paper.

It’s easy to stare at a blank page trying to come up with the flawless opening sentence that will captivate the reader be a work of literary art.

I’m still figuring out what exactly my dissertation is arguing, despite having written 75% of it.

This is part of the process, and you don’t have to have answers to any of it immediately.Until it came time to write my dissertation, graduate school kept me on a schedule with measurable goals and milestones around which I could structure my days and schedule.Once I defended my dissertation prospectus, however, that structure disappeared.I wish I’d had someone to tell me what his or her process had been like when I started in on my dissertation, and so I’ve gathered here the things I would have liked to have known, the tools I use, and the strategies I employ to keep myself (mostly) focused and moving my dissertation along.Let me emphasize, however, that this is what works for It’s going to take time to figure it out—all of it From your daily schedule to your favorite word processing program to your dissertation’s argument, it’s all going to take a while to figure out. It took me a few months to settle on the research management software I wanted to use and more than a year to figure out how and when I work the best.Your research, schedule, work mode, argument, and sources will change and evolve, and that’s normal.Dissertation work is isolating I’m an introvert, through and through.It’s not unusual to have days that I don’t leave my house except to exercise and only see my husband and roommate.And when I do spend time with other folks—even academics—there’s no way they’ve thought as much as I have about, for example, how late-nineteenth-century American imperialism created the context for the era of big dam construction in the United States.But structure isn’t (generally) something that comes with an academic schedule, especially this year while I’m on a writing fellowship.Since I’m not teaching this year, my schedule incredibly open and unscheduled.

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