- Action Planner (PDF)
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Well, we’ve almost reached the end of this course. Now it’s time to put everything together. Hopefully, you’ve identified some steps you’re going to take. This action planner provides some structure and accountability. Note down what you want to do – this might be creating a thesis outline, working out your weekly schedule, or learning a new piece of software. And then give yourself a deadline for doing it.
Then have a think about what’s going to be happening today, this week, and this month. Give yourself a tiny task that you’ll tackle right away. This gives you a quick win, providing satisfaction and motivation.
On the other side of the Planner, you can consider some of the potential challenges. Plans operate very differently in reality! By contemplating what might go wrong, you’ll be better placed to come up with contingencies and identify alternative routes.
To summarise what we’ve covered
- Make sure you’ve adopted a growth mindset
- Listen to your inner mentor, not your inner critic
- Focus on your circle of control, rather than all the mayhem outside it
- Identify a Minimum Viable Thesis and don’t try to do any more
- Understand the requirements for your thesis
- Audit what you’ve done so far and locate the gaps
- Think creatively about solutions rather than focusing on problems
- Check where you are on your PhD timeline and work backwards from your submission date.
- Work with your supervisor to establish what you need from the relationship
- Break your work down into sprints to make it more manageable
- Spend most of your time in Quadrant 2 of the Eisenhower Matrix – the important stuff.
- Plan your week according to those priorities and your energy levels
- Prepare for writing sessions so you get the most out of them – quality, not quantity.
- Improve focus and eliminate distractions with the Pomodoro technique and by introducing accountability
- Create startup and shutdown routines to maintain clear boundaries between life and work
- Monitor your progress by updating an audit sheet. Trust the evidence, not your emotions!
- Look after yourself and be mindful of the Human Function Curve. Downtime is part of your PhD, not an obstacle to it.
- Seek better ways of working to improve your efficiency. Sharpen the axe.
- If you follow these steps, something will emerge that looks a bit like a thesis. It’s what you do each day that counts. Those tiny actions build up to big results. That thesis won’t be perfect, but it’ll be good enough for the examination process. Finished is better than perfect. Remember, you’re aiming for a Minimum Viable Thesis, not a Nobel Prize.
Thank you so much for joining me. Wishing you all the very best of luck with your PhD and beyond!