Successful Academic - Dissertation Coaching

Inside this issue: Keeping Track of Progress

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The discipline of writing something down is the first step toward making it happen.
-- Lee Iacocca


I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.
-- Oscar Wilde


The Transition from Graduate Student to Assistant Professor is targeted for beginning academics and provided by the Career Center at Berkeley. It covers some useful basics for doctoral students starting to think about the job market.

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A Sample Self-Monitoring Chart

One of my faculty clients has been keeping track of the number of pages he writes each day. Looks great, eh? He has graciously sent me the template of his chart – it is a Microsoft word document – and if you’d like a copy, just email me and I’ll send it as an attachment.

click on image for a larger view of the chart

Increase Productivity with Self-Monitoring

One of the best ways to develop regular work habits is to consciously attend to your daily activities and accomplishments.


Self-monitoring is the process of keeping track of your process and progress. There are many advantages to tracking your efforts in a relatively systematic way and it is worth spending the time to devise methods that work for you. Watching what you do helps you do what you want.

One advantage of self-monitoring is that it helps to structure work projects without a clear deadline -- such as working on the dissertation, sending off a journal article, or completing a book proposal. Your efforts and progress become more concrete when observed by visible, external measures. A second benefit is that simply monitoring a behavior changes its occurrence in the desired direction.

Watching what you do helps you do what you want.
For example, studies of people trying to quit smoking show that the mere act recording each cigarette smoked decreased the total number people smoked.

Ways of monitoring yourself vary as much as the events or behaviors you choose to monitor. Methods range from completely free form approaches, such as a personal journal with no regular schedule of entries, to extremely structured programs, such as a graph indicating the cumulative time you spend on your scholarly work.

Some Types of Self-Monitoring:

  • A journal

  • A monthly, weekly, or daily calendar or day planner

  • Work Plans and Project Outlines

  • Time management diaries

  • “To Do” lists

  • Daily charts of time spent or work produced

  • Cumulative graphs of time spent or work produced

What type of self-monitoring do you do?
What would you like to add to your repertoire?

I’d like to hear from you,


Mary McKinney, Ph.D.
Clinical Psychologist
Academic Coach



“The Overwhelmed Person’s Guide to Time Management” by Ronni Eisenberg with Kate Kelly includes many tips for keeping track of your projects and progress. They will help you evaluate, for example, whether you’re someone who should have a paper or electronic calendar and “to do” list.

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