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How to Detect and Fight Against Your Biggest Productivity Killers While Writing A Ph.D.

How to Detect and Fight Against Your Biggest Productivity Killers While Writing A Ph.D.

Writing a Ph.D. thesis isn’t easy. Things don’t get any better with the research too. But when procrastination gets in the way, everything may fall apart.

The point here is not only to survive your Ph.D., but to build the foundation of your scientific career before it has officially begun. That means you need to be good at time management, get things done quickly, and find the balance between work, life and study. In other words, you need to hack productivity. And the best way to do that is to eliminate the things that prevent you from being productive and staying focused.

4 Distractions Every Ph.D. Student Has to Deal With

Distractions are the biggest productivity killers. And they come in many forms. Here are the main ones and what you can do to eliminate each:

1. Too much noise in the background.

Often that’s not up to you. You may not have the chance to sit in silence at your place and enjoy and distraction-free study environment. And that’s alright. In this case, you can go find a better place that suits your needs. Be it the library, or any coffee shop that’s peaceful enough for you to be focused for hours and complete your work successfully.

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2. People bothering you all the time.

Productive work is all about being concentrated on the current task and letting go of everything else. But if someone’s always coming in the room while you’re in the zone, or if others keep calling and texting you all the time, you won’t be able to do your best.

The solution here is simple. Be direct. Let them know you’re serious about becoming a good scientist one day and are now dedicating time daily to get closer to your goal. Figure out when you’re most productive during the day and which hours you’ll invest in focused work, and tell people not to bother you during that time if it’s nothing urgent.

3. Social media and other Internet distractions.

It would be great if you could just unplug and be laser focused until you get your Ph.D. done. But most of your work is online, and there are plenty of distractions in the digital world, too. You may spend too much time on social media and mobile apps, or have the bad habit of browsing the Net for hours without looking for anything in particular. Some prefer to watch meaningless videos, check email too often, or else.

All that wastes your precious time. So, set some limits. Get a software that blocks your access to the Internet for a start. It will help you when you need to get to writing, for instance.

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4. Fear of failure.

That too distracts us and makes us procrastinate all the time.

Many students feel afraid of not getting things done well, or in time, or else. They think about other works they’ve seen recently and think they can’t create anything like that. As a result, they start playing negative scenarios in their heads, imagining how others won’t like their work, and how that can ruin their whole career plan.

But all that is just in your head, if you too are going through such uncertainty. Fear of failure is an illusion and you’ll need to let go of it and get to work instead. Or try the opposite. Visualize yourself doing great, being respected for your work, becoming a successful scientist.

Now that you can easily detect the main types of distractions and focus more easily, it’s time to boost your productivity more. Here are some things to keep in mind:

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4 Productivity Tips and Tricks

1. Know your why.

Every time you do research, complete an assignment, or write a thesis, you have the chance to do it mindfully and even enjoy the process if you develop the right mindset. That can easily happen by knowing why you do what you do and keeping it in mind until you complete it. Every single task you finish gets you one step closer to becoming a scientist. Everything you read expands your horizons and becomes a powerful asset in the future.

2. Break big projects into smaller ones.

The big picture is scary most of the time. But every huge project consists of small steps to take. So, define them. Write them down. Then turn them into even smaller ones until you get to one action you can start with right now that will take less than 5 minutes. This way you won’t procrastinate or fear failure as this one step will be easy and simple.

What’s more, it will give you a sense of accomplishment and will motivate you to move to the next item on the list.

3. Be organized.

Have a place for everything, and get it back there after you’ve used it. This one single habit can save you a lot of time and worries. Also, have a to-do list. Write down everything that needs to be done the moment it comes up. This way you won’t need to remember every little detail and will always know what’s left to be done. Last but not least, declutter. Keep your workspace organized. Have less belongings and get rid of anything you don’t really use.

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4. Prioritize.

Sometimes there will be way too much stuff to get done. And our time is limited. Therefore, you’ll need to be selective if you want to keep seeing progress. Once you’ve defined your most productive time, for instance, make sure you dedicate it to nothing else but studying. And when you create your to-do list, decide what’s most important and put it on top. Then, work on it first thing in the morning.

So that’s how you hack productivity and start getting more done in less time. All the rules are simple, but you’ll need to build the productivity habits mentioned here and stick to them.

What about you? What other distractions get in the way of your productivity and how do you deal with them?

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Last Updated on December 9, 2019

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

1. Get Rationally Optimistic

Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

The result: no more mental stress.

2. Unplug

Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

3. Easy on the Caffeine

Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

  • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
  • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
  • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

The result: mental stress will be gone!

So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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