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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 January 3, 2020

The 10 Essential Habits of Positive People

The 10 Essential Habits of Positive People

Are you waiting for life events to turn out the way you want so that you can feel more positive about your life? Do you find yourself having pre-conditions to your sense of well-being, thinking that certain things must happen for you to be happier? Do you think there is no way that your life stresses can make you anything other than “stressed out” and that other people just don’t understand?  If your answer is “yes” to any of these questions, you might find yourself lingering in the land of negativity for too long!

The following are some tips to keep positive no matter what comes your way. This post will help you stop looking for what psychologists call “positivity” in all the wrong places!  Here are the ten essential habits of positive people.

1. Positive people don’t confuse quitting with letting go.

Instead of hanging on to ideas, beliefs, and even people that are no longer healthy for them, they trust their judgement to let go of negative forces in their lives.  Especially in terms of relationships, they subscribe to The Relationship Prayer which goes:

 I will grant myself the ability to trust the healthy people in my life … 

To set limits with, or let go of, the negative ones … 

And to have the wisdom to know the DIFFERENCE!

 2.  Positive people don’t just have a good day – they make a good day.

Waiting, hoping and wishing seldom have a place in the vocabulary of positive individuals. Rather, they use strong words that are pro-active and not reactive. Passivity leads to a lack of involvement, while positive people get very involved in constructing their lives. They work to make changes to feel better in tough times rather than wish their feelings away.

3. For the positive person, the past stays in the past.

Good and bad memories alike stay where they belong – in the past where they happened. They don’t spend much time pining for the good ol’ days because they are too busy making new memories now. The negative pulls from the past are used not for self-flagellation or unproductive regret, but rather productive regret where they use lessons learned as stepping stones towards a better future.

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4. Show me a positive person and I can show you a grateful person.

The most positive people are the most grateful people.  They do not focus on the potholes of their lives.  They focus on the pot of gold that awaits them every day, with new smells, sights, feelings and experiences.  They see life as a treasure chest full of wonder.

5. Rather than being stuck in their limitations, positive people are energized by their possibilities.

Optimistic people focus on what they can do, not what they can’t do.  They are not fooled to think that there is a perfect solution to every problem, and are confident that there are many solutions and possibilities.  They are not afraid to attempt new solutions to old problems, rather than spin their wheels expecting things to be different this time.  They refuse to be like Charlie Brown expecting that this time Lucy will not pull the football from him!

6. Positive people do not let their fears interfere with their lives!

Positive people have observed that those who are defined and pulled back by their fears never really truly live a full life. While proceeding with appropriate caution, they do not let fear keep them from trying new things. They realize that even failures are necessary steps for a successful life. They have confidence that they can get back up when they are knocked down by life events or their own mistakes, due to a strong belief in their personal resilience.

7. Positive people smile a lot!

When you feel positive on the inside it is like you are smiling from within, and these smiles are contagious. Furthermore, the more others are with positive people, the more they tend to smile too! They see the lightness in life, and have a sense of humor even when it is about themselves. Positive people have a high degree of self-respect, but refuse to take themselves too seriously!

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8. People who are positive are great communicators.

They realize that assertive, confident communication is the only way to connect with others in everyday life.  They avoid judgmental, angry interchanges, and do not let someone else’s blow up give them a reason to react in kind. Rather, they express themselves with tact and finesse.  They also refuse to be non-assertive and let people push them around. They refuse to own problems that belong to someone else.

9. Positive people realize that if you live long enough, there are times for great pain and sadness.

One of the most common misperceptions about positive people is that to be positive, you must always be happy. This can not be further from the truth. Anyone who has any depth at all is certainly not happy all the time.  Being sad, angry, disappointed are all essential emotions in life. How else would you ever develop empathy for others if you lived a life of denial and shallow emotions? Positive people do not run from the gamut of emotions, and accept that part of the healing process is to allow themselves to experience all types of feelings, not only the happy ones. A positive person always holds the hope that there is light at the end of the darkness.  

10. Positive person are empowered people – they refuse to blame others and are not victims in life.

Positive people seek the help and support of others who are supportive and safe.They limit interactions with those who are toxic in any manner, even if it comes to legal action and physical estrangement such as in the case of abuse. They have identified their own basic human rights, and they respect themselves too much to play the part of a victim. There is no place for holding grudges with a positive mindset. Forgiveness helps positive people become better, not bitter.

How about you?  How many habits of positive people do you personally find in yourself?  If you lack even a few of these 10 essential habits, you might find that the expected treasure at the end of the rainbow was not all that it was cracked up to be. How could it — if you keep on bringing a negative attitude around?

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I wish you well in keeping positive, because as we all know, there is certainly nothing positive about being negative!

Featured photo credit: Janaína Castelo Branco via flickr.com

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