In this weeks episode, Marvette talks about how to conserve your energy and jump-start your motivation during the writing process so you can accomplish your goals. Marvette also shares her secret to getting what you need done without draining your energy within your intended time frame.
Hey friend, the time has come to finish your dissertation, graduate and become doctor. Welcome to office hours with Dr. Lacy where we talk about how to finally master this time management thing so you can stay on top of it without losing your mind. Every Wednesday you can find a new episode wherever you listen to podcasts, make sure you hit the subscribe button to make sure you never miss an episode. I’m Dr. Marvette Lacy your dissertation writing strategist here to be with you along every step of the way. I would like to thank you for coming to today’s office hours. Let’s get started on today’s episode. Hey, how’s writing going? I know you don’t like the question, but let me tell you, when you join the finish your dissertation program, you will love that question. Clients often report feeling excited and joyful to go into their process even before they even get to the dissertation process, and that’s what I’m inviting you to do. I’m inviting you to come inside the group and join us so that you can get the structure you need and the tools that will help you to show up consistent and disciplined in your process. All you need to do is come on over to Marvette lacy.com/apply and sign up for the wait list and you will be the first notified when doors are open. See you soon.
Hello. Welcome back to a new week. You may hear the wind outside because I don’t know. It sounds like, like several tornadoes are on their way, but the winds just been really high. So if you hear something creepy, that’s what you hear y’all we made it, listen we made it to the other side of the election. What a journey, what a journey I have been just, you know, like last week, you know, the election, like last Tuesday, and of course I told myself I’m not going to be glued to the news. I’m not going to keep watching it. And what was I doing? Just watching everything. But I did my best to take as many breaks as possible and make sure that the same amount of time I was spending, watching the news and looking at election stuff that I was spending equal, if not more time, doing things to lift my spirits, build myself up. And so that is something you can borrow from me. If you find yourself whether its about the election or anything else that may not be the best for your mental health to balance that out with things that are good for you? I was just too curious not to know, and it just got, it was a, it was a journey, but you did not come here to talk about the election before we get off into today’s episode about energy and the writing process.
Client Spotlight: Alexandria:
I want to do a client spotlight. And I know I say this every week, y’all I truly, I just work with some of the most amazing clients ever. And it is listen words don’t always encapsulate, like what our experience together has been and just how amazed I am as them. And so I will try to stop saying I don’t have the words, but I’m like, I truly don’t, but today’s spotlight is Alex. Yall, Alex’s a rock star. And it’s really funny because she gets to listen to this episode before anyone else does. So right now, Alex is my podcast manager. She does all things Office Hours with Dr. Lacy. She is the reason why people know that the episode exists. She transcribes the episodes. She makes the podcast guide, which are the reflection questions that allow you to take each episode deeper and apply it to your life. That’s just, that’s me just talking about like the tip of the iceberg of what she does and what she means to team Lacy. Um, that, that is her official role. I met Alex about a year ago, so it would have been July, July, August of 2019. And she was recommended, she was referred to me by a friend Abiola and the two of them were doing, they were going to go off on a, I believe on a study abroad trip in Europe, or maybe it was a conference or something.
They had a trip coming up. And then right after that trip, Alex was, she volunteered at us like a summer camp for, um, young girls. And so we were talking and she was saying like, I need some support in my dissertation process. I’m getting longer into my program. I’m ready to wrap it up. Um, but she was hesitant to join the program because of the trips, which is why I brought those up. And she wasn’t sure if she was going to be able to keep up with it. And we had a conversation through Facebook messenger of all places. We had a conversation and I just said, you know, every, all the material is recorded for you to review. Whenever you have time, all the calls are recorded, right? And so this is something for any of you who are considering joining the finish your dissertation program, but you’re concerned about, you know, the timing or if you can make the calls, everything is recorded and everything is uploaded to the website for you to review whether you missed the call, whether you want to re review the calls or the material.
Right. Because if you’re anything like I am, I will watch a video over and over and over. I just know that repetition is usually the best way that I learn. Maybe that goes back to like my chemistry days. But yeah, so I was telling Alex that and to tell her like, listen, I understand that traveling is going to happen. I understand that internet is going to be spotty, right? But like, this is really a question of how committed are you to your goals, right? Because if you’ve been in a program, um, and I have several clients like Alex who are in programs where you get both your master’s and your PhD, in the same program. And so you’re committing to a longer period, like we can get into the middle of something and kind of just lose, I mean, I know I felt this way of like, losing like the motivation of like, why am I even doing all of this?
Right. And you, and it could be helpful to have someone next to you, like supporting you and walking you through the steps, right? Because it’s one thing for you to say, well, I already know what I need to do. It’s a whole completely different thing than actually showing up to do those things. And so that was a lot of what our conversation was. And I absolutely fell in love with her research topic. She is looking at the experiences of young adolescent Girls of Color, who has, um, an immediate family member incarcerated and the impact that has on their identity development. Listen, you tell me anything about identity development. I am, I am all ears. So we started working together then and she showed up even while she was traveling, even when she didn’t have reliable internet, even when she was probably up all night talking to young girls, she showed up, she watched a video, she applied it.
She asked questions when she needed it. She asked clarifying questions and over the year or so that we’ve been working together. What I admire most about Alex is that she is willing to be brave and like courageous and show up to be coached. Now coaching can be when you are someone who is, you want to show up and do the work and you want to be open and you want to be honest, it can be really scary, especially when you’re doing a group coaching call, because we do group coaching calls and inside the program, it can be scary because you’re like, I’m about to lay all of my stuff out there for everyone to see. Like, not only am I going to lay it out there for this person to like dissect it all, but I’m going to it in front of everyone. But she shows up shaking, scared, sweating. You can never tell though, on the video, she says it afterwards, like she just looks cool as a cucumber on the video, but she shows up like she will volunteer to go first to be coach. And I truly believe that is why she has had so many like great results in her time in the program, getting an awarded like grants, being like one of the biggest things that we worked on is being the steward of your dissertation process. She has two co-chairs leading her dissertation committee. And a lot of our work is, you know, the two of them, they’re faculty. They Have things going on. And they have two different ways of doing things which can make like logistic things like scheduling meetings or getting feedback that can make that a little bit challenging. And a lot of the work I’ve been doing with Alex is to say, it’s okay that you can follow up with them.
This is how you can follow up with them. Um, a lot of our work has been about Alex, you are a critical qualitative researcher. I get the, like the program, right, They may be more post positivist. And I’m talking about paradigms. If you don’t know what these words are, they may have a different way of doing things. They may think of research more in a quantitative way, but it’s absolutely okay for you to show up in your identity as a critical qualitative researcher. And that may mean that you may have to do some educating for your committee and for your chairs, which can be scary, right? Because you may think like I’m just a student who am I to go quote, unquote, educate my co-chairs or my committee. But you have to remember that this is your dissertation project. This is your topic. And while your committee and your chairs are there to help guide you, they don’t know it all right? Like no, none of us know it all. And you have been the one that has been focused in the literature and thinking about it. Right? And so that means there’s going to be some exchange there, but listen, Alex will show up. Now she has gone from being like, I can’t send that email. I can’t tell that to now she’s like, listen, I just need to know where my feedback is. Here’s what we’re going to do. Here’s why I made the decision I made in my dissertation proposal. This is why I’m going to collect data this way. This is why I’m using these words. Don’t like, she is not afraid to like push back of like, no, no racism is a real thing. Institutionalized like oppression, is real where like a year ago, she, she would have just ignored me if we had that coaching call, like she has, she has grown.
And Alex is the person who keeps me on my toes. Y’all I have all the ideas. As you probably know this about me. I have all the ideas I want to do all the things. And one of like Alex’s main role on the team is to be like, no, but did you do that? But what about this? Remember you were supposed to do that. And she gets me together, gets me together. So it is definitely an equal exchange. And she started on the team, I think earlier this year. Yeah, the beginning of this year. And she has taken the podcast and ran with it. She updates the website. She, Alex is like a, um, I’m trying to think of an analogy. Like if you go missing from the group, you just need to expect that Alex will roll up in your DM somewhere and be like, where are you? She keeps us together. Y’all um, and she is the sweetest, most kindest person you will ever meet. She is the most thoughtful person like you will ever meet. And her, her beautiful dog and Athena and just everything. And so if you are in the Qualitative Dissertation Made Simple Facebook group, or if you want to hit her up on Instagram, go say hi to her. Go talk to her. Just Good energy. Good, good energy. And she just yesterday I think, or maybe it was the day before she is done with her proposal, it is submitted. She is preparing for the defense and it’s already done. It’s already passed. I already believe she’s going to walk into that room, the virtual zoom room and have no problem. Any question that is thrown at her, she will be able to answer like I am so excited. So, so, so excited to see her get into data collection, to start talking more about this work. Cause she’s already doing a lot of talking. She’s very engaged in the community, but just go say hi to her.
Energy In The Writing Process:
So today we’re going to be talking about energy in the writing process. We essentially have been talking about this for the past few weeks. And I just want to close out this chapter about energy, about taking care of yourself, about dealing with uncertainty. This is just the episode to close that out because everything that I could say about how to have energy in the writing process is what I’ve been talking with you all about for the past three weeks, right? How are, when you, like going back to this whole central thought of when you take care of yourself, when you focus on the things that you can control, when you make the next best decision for yourself, everything else takes care of itself. That is how you have sustained energy and motivation in the process is you focus on you, you focus on the facts, you focus on, what can I control? I can’t control how other people think and how they show up and what they do or don’t do. I can control me though. Those are all key things a part of having energy in the writing process.
The other thing that I want to really bring home in this episode and something I’ve really been sitting with for myself for the past few months is when I think about having energy in the writing process, usually this comes up with clients or people. I talk to that they’re like, I just don’t have motivation to write. I just don’t feel like it. They’re like, yeah, I’ve done the reading. I got some notes. Like I know what I want to say, but I just don’t want to sit down at the laptop and write it. I just don’t want to do it. And like, I just need some energy or I just need some inspiration. And what I know that really helps with that is taking it one thing at a time. Now I know some of you are rolling your eyes and being like, but I know this already. What did I say at the beginning of this? It’s one thing to know something is another thing to do it. And when I say I have been sitting with this for the past three months, I have, because I can get ahead of myself. I can want to do all the 50, 11 billion things that are running through my head, but the brain only has a certain amount of energy. Right. And so what I’ve been doing is being like, okay, what is one small thing that I can do? What is one small thing that I could do right now that will get me closer to the finished product. Right? So when you’re thinking about sitting down and you’re writing, let’s say, you’re working on your findings chapter. And you’re like, Oh, there’s just so much data. And I don’t even know where to start. I mean, I know what I want to say.
What Is One Thing You Can Do?:
I know what the participants said, but I’m just so tired. I just don’t want to do it. It’s because what is happening in that moment is that you’re thinking about every single step you’re thinking about, okay, I need to find the themes. I need to write it out. I need to pull the quotations. I need to make a story. I need to make sure I’m describing everything. And then I’ll have chapter five. And like, what’s the difference between four and five. And like, and if I have like, I don’t know what to say. I don’t know what the implications are. I dunno, like all of that seems so big in your brain in a confused brain will just be like F it, I’m not doing anything I’m done. This is too much. Right. And if you allow yourself to continue to go down that rabbit hole of like, and I got to do this and I got to do that, and I’m going to email that person I got. That is a lot when you can make the decision to say, all right. Yes, we can put all of the things that need to be done on a shelf. And we’re going to come down to, okay. What is one thing? What is one thing? Is there to use the chapter four as an example, is there one thing that I can focus on right now? Can I just brain dump out that section? I don’t need to worry about bringing in quotations. I don’t need to worry about bringing in citations. I just want to brain dump, what this one theme is. I don’t need to worry about organizing it and formatting it. I just need to get words on the page. If you work with me, you will hear that a lot. I say that a lot in the class, get words on the page.
We can’t do anything without words on the page. Okay? The reason like it is simple, but a lot of people don’t want to follow this. And the reason is because you say to yourself, well, that’s not enough. That’s not enough. That’s not going to help me get to my goal. And then that sends you back into this loop of, but I got it. Cause I have to do this. And I got to do that. So how has me focusing on this one theme going to help me finish the whole dissertation. And it’s like, if I can’t finish it all in one hour, then I don’t want to do it at all. You get into this all or nothing thinking, and you get back into this spiral and then you don’t do anything. You don’t take any action because you’re like, that’s not going to get me there. So what’s the point. But if you can allow yourself to stay in a place where you say, my only job right now is to focus on this one task. My only job is to focus on this one task and finishing this one task. I can make a different decision to do something else when I finished this one task. But right now, all I have to do is focus on this one task. And I am reminded of this very often from my father. My father is a Vietnam vet. He has navigated PTSD throughout most of his life. He is 73 years old. He went to Vietnam at 18. He, you know, he’s seen some stuff, right. And he has been working through that. And whenever I’m talking with him, um, and I’m either asking him how he works through it, or I’m telling him about, Oh, I got to do all these things.
And he just calmly, he always brings me back to you just got to focus on one thing at a time. He says like that is the biggest thing that has helped him navigate through the anxiety, the depression, the trauma. It’s being like, if I’m talking to you, I’m only focused on talking to you. I’m not thinking about my calendar. I’m not thinking about any other conversation. I’m not thinking about anything else I have to do. I’m only focused on you. He does like Photoshop projects. Like if I’m working on a picture, I’m just focused on that picture and finishing that picture for the client. Like That’s it. And I used to ignore him all the time. Like, yeah, yeah, yeah. I know that. I am telling you the more that I grow, the more that is so true. Especially as someone who loves, I’m like I can multitask. I think it’s a way of life. And then when I get into the moments, like I have been the past month of spinning out, because I’ve been in overwhelm, I have to consciously and intentionally tell myself, what is this one thing we’re going to do right now? Yeah. We’re going to do all these other things. Well, what’s this one thing we’re going to do. And when I finished that one thing, I feel lighter. I feel like, yes, what else can I do? Is there another little thing I can do?
Scholar Planning Routine:
And if you’re in the finish your dissertation program. You are, you already know what your next thing you could do because we in the plan your dissertation program, we, you plan your week, but you, we follow a system, the scholar planning routine that helps you to prioritize the most important things into organize those most important things into 20 minute tasks. And each day that you show up to work, you have three of those 20 minute tasks that you’re working on. And so when you are getting to a place where you’re like, but I’m so overwhelmed and I need to write, you can always go back to that plan and say, okay, what is, when I’m looking at my top three for the day, What is one of the top three, those 20 minute tasks that I can do right now. And you know, it becomes easier to overcome it. Like you find the energy to do it because you’re like, well, that’s only 20 minutes.
It’s something real small. Like it would be something small. Like, Oh, I need to email my chair and schedule a meeting with them. Or I need to request an article from the library. Like they’re just really small tasks. And in the beginning, when people first come into plan your dissertation or finish your dissertation, they’re like, that’s, I don’t want to do that. That’s going to be tedious. But then on the back end, when you get to like Wednesday of the week and you’re tired, you’re so thankful that you have that plan because you know exactly what you can do, you know exactly the next step to take. And when you are very clear on what to do and very clear on the next step to take you find the energy. Cause you’re like, Oh, it’s just 20 minutes. Oh, it’s just this email. Let me send that off. And once you can complete that one task, you build up your confidence in yourself, you build up the momentum in yourself. And when you can continue to check things off your list, when you’re like, I did my top three and you’re like, what else can I do? You keep going. And that is, have you. That’s how you have energy. That’s how you have sustained energy.
So my question for you today is what is one thing like you can do right now, whether you’re writing or you have a list of things that you have in your head, what is one thing you can do right now? What is one small step you can take? How can you take that? Like, what exactly do you need to produce by the end of that step? Right? So is it an email? Is it you have the article, right? And then take it, think about like, what is one thing I can do to get closer to my end goal and that’s it and do it. And then once you finish that, if you’re like, okay, I’m tired. I don’t want to do anything else. At least you got something done. Most likely though, you’re going to get to the end of that task and be like, what else can I do? And that is how you have the energy and momentum. So I encourage you to try this. If you need some more support, you need some people to reach you on. Come on over to the qualitative dissertation made simple Facebook group. It doesn’t matter if you’re not working on a qualitative dissertation, we are there to support you, to hype you up if you need that. So come on over its a free group is open to all doc students. We welcome you. And we are still in the middle of this 90 day challenge. This is week seven. People are over there doing big things. They are changing their life. And if you want to be a part of that energy and the people come on over there, that’s going to do it for this week. I will talk with you all next week. Bye for now.
Join Finish Your Dissertation!:
Hey, you ready to take this work further? Then it’s time for you to join the finish your dissertation program. Finally get the tools, resources, and structure. You need to show up consistent and disciplined in your process. All you need to do is come on over to MarvetteLacy.com/apply and join the finish your dissertation wait list. I’ll see you there. Bye for now. Thanks. Thank you for joining in for today’s office hours. Make sure you come on Instagram and tag me at Marvette Lacy. Let me know what your thoughts were on today’s episode until next time. Do something to show yourself some love. I’ll talk to you next week. Bye for now.