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Dissertation Writers Resources

A list of resources for Dissertation Writers at all stages, based upon the workshops and materials from the Dissertation Writers Retreat.

Staying on Track: Habit Trackers

Sometimes it can be helpful to keep track of how much time or how many days in a row you have consistently worked on your dissertation. For some folks, having that visual is both a reward for the progress they've made and a motivator to maintain that steady pace. The video below explains how to make best use of habit trackers. 



Staying on Track: Habit Stacking

Another useful tool in establishing a consistent writing habit is the idea of habit stacking. Simply put, habit stacking is a modified version of setting an intention for the day; it is also the concept of building positive habits into the rhythms of your daily life.

For example: You might already drink two cups of coffee every morning to kickstart your day. If you use the idea of habit stacking, you might stack on the habit of starting a writing session with your second cup of coffee. The image below provides a sample of setting your intention for a new habit; the video underneath the image likewise explains how you might brainstorm new ideas for stacking your habits to create new routines that will help you finish your dissertation.

After/before I do [current habit], I will do [new habit]



A Productive Workspace

Virginia Woolf certainly knew a thing or two when, in 1929, she wrote that a "woman must have money and a room of her own to write." Woolf's proclamation could be readily applied to any writer, however, and it is advantageous for dissertation writers to have a dedicated space set aside in which to study, research, brainstorm, outline, and compose their dissertations.

Work-Life Balance

Dr. Ijeoma Kola, a graduate of Colombia University's Mailman School of Public Health, shares some of her personal tips for maintaining a work/life balance, particularly as a doctoral student. From keeping integrity with yourself by sticking to a self-imposed schedule to actively incorporating self-care into your weekly schedule, Dr. Kola's ideas for holding onto your sanity, your personal life, and your family time during your Ph.D. come from a voice of experience.


Dr. Kola also writes ongoing blogs about maintaining one's work/life balance as a doctoral student and a professional academic. See the link below for one of her articles about balancing family life with the Ph.D.

Managing Your Time

You're a graduate student. That means you're balancing a number of priorities, among them coursework, professional development, conference presentations, journal abstracts, not to mention the pressing needs of your family or any attempt to have a social life.

While the University of Memphis does not endorse the use of either of these applications, we have found that they may be of use as you wrestle your many responsibilities into a manageable schedule. Both the Forest and Flora phone apps can help you stay focused by setting a timer on your phone for a set amount of study time. If you complete your study session without picking up your phone, the app will "grow" a plant for you. You can also track how many hours a week, month, or year you have studied!

Both are available in the Apple App Store and Google Play.

Helpful Books

These two books were recommended by Stephen Turner at the Winter 2021 DWR, available as eBooks from University Libraries.