Rituals are a hallmark of highly successful people. Working within established routines and practices creates reliability within your field that breeds productivity. It also lays the ideal foundation for continued growth, allowing you to first learn and perfect new skills and then move beyond to build upon those skills.
Whether professional athletes or prolific writers, having a sort of pre-game (or pre-writing) ritual sets you up for success. When it comes to writing your dissertation, it’s important to establish a ritual and routine that pushes you towards greater productivity and prowess as a writer and academic. The end result is a better dissertation, as well as a more well-rounded skillset as you start your career in academia… and here’s how:
For some, taking the time to start the day with the ritual of brewing tea or coffee is the key to getting productive. The reason is simple: you’ve already completed one task (and been rewarded for it with a yummy cup of coffee!), so it’s easier to take on other tasks.
So, as you think about your dissertation and what rituals you can use to boost your productivity, think about what tasks you can take on before you start your day at the keyboard. Make sure it’s something you can feel accomplished about – if it has a built-in reward, it’s even better!
A Pavlovian Readiness Response
With your pre-writing ritual done, you set yourself up for a sort of Pavlovian readiness. When done enough times, your mind and body knows that, once this ritual is complete, it’s time to start working.
Getting in the Zone
With your mind and body ready to work, it’s easier to transition into “the zone” — that special place where you’re getting the most bang for your proverbial buck. When you’re “in the zone,” your writing comes naturally and quickly, unfettered by writer’s block and other annoyances that frequently plague writers (dissertation and otherwise).
Don’t Stop Believing
The key, though, to reaping the benefits of a pre-writing ritual for your dissertation is to stick with it. Make it a part of your process and don’t stop believing in it. If you’re finding your ritual isn’t as rewarding, you should modify it, but always make it part of your process, lest you lose the benefits and see your overall productivity falter.
As you complete your time in the trenches as a PhD student and move into your career in academia, you’ll find that your ritual sticks with you, giving you a leg up as you write for your department, prepare to teach, and more.
Only Work in Isolation if That’s What Works for You
This is all about finding a process that works for you. Your writing ritual need not be an isolating experience. Whether you’re working with your peers, your partner, or a dissertation editor, you can reap these same benefits working with someone, rather than working alone. Indeed, for the more extroverted PhD candidates, it may be essential to seek out a social routine to create the energy necessary to see a real productivity boost along with your ritual.
So, what rituals do you have to boost your productivity?