[Photo Spread] Book Annotating That’s Better over the Long Haul; Overcoming Distraction


I hope this post finds you well!

Below I share a photo spread. If you click on a picture, it will display the large photo viewer where you can see more details.

About the photos: The book annotation techniques on display in the photos have saved me SO MUCH time and helped me get the most out of my books and my reading. The photos depict how I take notes in books such that not only are the notes useful soon after they are taken (while still in the memory a bit), but they are useful months and years later.

The annotations are made and placed in such a way that I might not even have to open the book to know if it contains annotations leading to content that I need. And if I do determine to open the book, I can know to a high degree of certainty after skimming the Table of Contents or going to a select number of TABBED pages whether to keep with the book for my present needs or look elsewhere.

To close the post, below the photo spread I list four INCREDIBLY helpful (to me) links that lead to really great (to me) material that I’ve encountered over the past week or so. It didn’t feel right to “sit on them” without sharing. 😉 I hope you find something useful in one if not most of them. Please add your comments.

Well, back to thesising I go! Wishing you joy, clarity, and any breakthroughs you desire as you continue to squash effective tomatoes and cross off tasks toward reaching your milestones and crossing that finished line.Quote_DecideThatYouWantItMoreThanYouAreAfraidOfItWe’re going to get there! We are closer today than we were yesterday. Let’s do this! Solidarity vibes. 🙂

Please enjoy the photo gallery and links below.




Some Reads Perhaps Very Worth Your Time

  1. Distractions and Solutions posted at the (research) supervisor’s friend
  2. The Different Stages of the Writing Process posted at the Research Voodoo blog NOTE: The author recently enjoyed having one of her posts Freshly Pressed!
  3. Using English for Academic Purposes (a webguide for students in higher education) by Andy Gillett: This is a clear, illuminating, easy-and-even-fun-to-navigate website all about academic writing at higher levels. It’s the simplicity and CLARITY of the explanations, married with the diagrams, that strike me about this content. I’ll be back lots, I think.
  4. 6 Easy-to-Steal Rituals of Extremely Successful People posted at the Marc and Angel Hack Life blog

Good Point!: Breathe OUT Sometimes


Today I seem to be receiving the same message again and again, via various platforms:

  1. First, this link popped up in my twitter feed: http://researchvoodoo.wordpress.com/2013/03/05/the-perfect-sentence-vortex-and-how-to-escape-it/.
  2. It mentioned this excellent article, which changed my whole outlook on thesising for today: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/06/magazine/be-wrong-as-fast-as-you-can.html
  3. Then this blog post arrived in my email inbox, referring me to this excellent read: http://sivers.org/io.

These all spoke the same thing to me: “Z, get some things down, quick, and take a look at them!”

I must have been listening, subconsciously, because for the past hour I’ve been zooming along, capturing in text and with picture ways to maximize the research benefits of my current study. Consequently at the moment I’m feeling GREAT about my project, and if you are a student scholar especially, you know how significant it is to experience genuinely good feelings about your project, your work (both yield and process), and your sense of making progress.


At the moment I am inspired!: “breathing out” instead of always “breathing in.” My creative juices are flowing, and I see a clear connection between this work and the eventual write-up! Yes! I’m taking a Tiger Woods “knee to the ground while pumping the fist!” 🙂

What encourages you, academically-speaking and research or writing -wise? What inspires you? Have you connected with it today? As the links above advise, try “breathing out,” keeping in mind the wisdom of “being wrong as fast as you can.”

Godspeed with today’s endeavors,

Mickey (Z)

Letter for a Dissertating Friend Who Said S/he’d Really Hit a Low Point


I hope this post finds you well!

The other day I sent a note of encouragement to a fellow graduate student who expressed that he or she had “really hit a low point.” He or she shared that there were just several issues that hit all at once.

This was my reply (I made a few edits so that it can be understood apart from the contents of the graduate student’s original post/note). I share here just in case it might encourage someone, inform someone, or inspire someone to create a note or have a conversation to support a fellow graduate student.

As always, blessings!


Hi! Many hugs. 

Is it possible to just take a breather-day of self-care? In K-12 teaching, we call this a personal health day. 

I am glad your health crisis is over and you’ve healed.

Are you 100% in charge of [major, not-dissertation-related, family-related task]? If so, is there anyone who could pitch in and help? Do you belong to a community or church that might help?

I am sorry to hear of the challenges in your relationship with your partner right now.

Is there a library, coffee house, park, and bookstore where you can go, declare that it is your space for working in peace, and make a work sanctuary of sorts? Perhaps you can find a variety of these, take your headphones, take a thermos of your most delicious and soothing tea, play soothing instrumental music softly, and allow yourself to run a peaceful, non-pressurized reading or writing routine while there. It’s the space where no on gets to psychologically hitch a ride along (not partner, not scary-to-write-for-instructor, not the phony police–no one).

I am sorry you have more courses than normal. 

Might it give you peace to map out everything you must read and write and submit . . . on, say, a reverse calendar? That way you can visually see it for what it is and make decisions, such as “this reading will get 70% concentration, this will get 50% effort, this will get full effort,” etc.

A simple gantt chart can function like a reverse calendar. There are tons of resources out there for making a gantt chart. I use Liquid Planner, but it has a small learning curve. I’ve heard good things about Comindwork and TomsPlanner, but haven’t used either. You may not be into such reverse calendars or software. 

I am sorry that your one instructor is scary to write for.

Would it help to think of yourself as writing for some other specific, reasonable person? Perhaps you just say to yourself, “Scary-prof-to-write-for perhaps won’t be satisfied. That’s her issue. Let me write the piece with Scary-prof-to-write-for’s requirements, but that _____ would appreciate.” To burn into your brain that you are not subject to Scary Prof’s anxiety-inducing nature, you could write the name (or grab a photo of replacement audience person from the web, print it, and tape it) to the front of the manila folder where you collect your notes, drafts, stickies, etc. for the paper. It’s hard to remember otherwise!

Here are some writing refresher sources, to perhaps help drive the phony police (imposter phenomenon) back:

Writing a Literature Review and Using a Synthesis Matrix

There’s a PhinisheD thread or two that you might find particularly useful and inspiring: http://www.phinished.org/showthread….ndset+sabotage andhttp://phinished.org/showthread.php?…n+once+for+all. You might check out books such as “Writing Your Dissertation in 15 Minutes a Day” by Bolker or “Writing for Professors” by Boice or “Demystifying Dissertation Writing” by Single. These help with the process, psychology, and emotion of writing.

PhinisheD members have shared tips over the years with me. A few about how to establish a peaceful AND effective writing routine have stuck with me:

  • At the end of each writing session, leave a note for yourself about what you just finished, what you are doing, and where you can start the next time you start back up
  • At the beginning of each writing session, give yourself a tomato (25 minutes) just to re-acclimate: Perhaps skim notes, flip through articles, simply open files, make tea, stretch, write a journal entry about how you’re thinking about your writing project, review your writing plan, dictate into a recorder how you’re thinking, etc. Ease in!
  • Be tolerant of iterative writing: That is, in the beginning just type from an outline a series of g’nuff (i.e., good enough) paragraphs. After you’ve set it aside for a day, return to it and make it better. But do not refrain from getting stuff down. If it helps, at first think of it as simply speaking on paper. Hone over time. But at least give yourself the chance to do so by typing early versions. Writing is thinking. Then we hone for the reader. 

Last thing I’ll share is how I’ve come to find my academic voice: http://theblossomingfledglingresearc…thorial-voice/

Wishing you self-patience, baby-stepping, and phony-police-defeating powers and vibes!

Some Ideas for Surmounting Lack of Motivation


Below are ten ideas for surmounting lack of motivation. Please chime in with your ideas by commenting. Many blessings! Scenario: Say it is time to conduct the analysis of your data so that you can present data findings, write up … Continue reading

[Quick Reflection] An Aha! Moment: “Visualize and Envision to Publish . . . and not Perish!”

An oft-cited scripture from the christian bible is that of Proverbs 29:18. In the King James version of the bible, it reads:

Where there is no vision, the people perish.


Such a strong word, no?

Around my stomping grounds of late (well, actually, of the least 6 years), the word “perish” is usually uttered or printed within the admonition “Publish or perish!”

Hmm! Common to both of these ideas is the word “perish.” So . . . what if I let the word “perish” function as a hinge while I try to reconcile these two ideas?

So far I’ve come up with this blend: “Visualize and envision to publish . . . and not perish.” In other words, if I don’t want my writing and writer’s identity to perish, I probably need to visualize and maintain a vision:

  • a vision for my writing process,
  • a vision for the work day,
  • a vision for the work hour,
  • a vision of the produced draft,
  • etc.

I took 1.5 hours this morning to really think about this. Because today needs to be a day that I produce (I know you’ve been here!).

Below are the graphic results (CLICK TO ENLARGE) of my serious attempt at having a VISION for how each span of working time (work day) “should” go and a VISION for each work hour.

So, are you strategic about how you work–about how you spend the work day and about how you spend an hour working? As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts. In the meanwhile, I wish you vision, and I send you vibes! Images are below! TO ENLARGE AN IMAGE, PLEASE CLICK IT. 

Blessings! 🙂

[By Z] Photo - Vision for Work Day (edited)


You Want LiquidPlanner: It’s the Reverse Calendaring Answer and a Dream Work Environment


Having a reverse calendar is pretty important, IMHO. I have never had too much luck with getting a good, accurate, full/complete reverse calendar made.

. . . Until now. I now have a “soul-satisfying” reverse calendar that is ridiculously realistic, asks me to “okay” a recalculation of the reverse calendar as I tick of tasks as “done” or when I don’t and the estimated finish date passes, etc. The app itself does SO MUCH MORE in a very “get in and get out and on with your work” kind of way. 


  • If you’ve been fine without it and don’t really need an accurate and/or constantly auto-updating reverse calendar . . . ignore this post wholly.
  • If you don’t like stuff like Kanbanflow and just prefer paper-and-pencil, CERTAINLY ignore this post wholly! 
  • If you don’t like Internet apps even a little, then likely ignore. Note: I get the aversion, but for this one I gladly make an exception. It’s that important to my accurate time and task management.

Okay: I’ve tried my best to save people time from reading on who don’t need to or won’t benefit.

On to the information . . .

Fast, simple, fluid environment–compatible with all operating systems. Yay! NOTE: REQUIRES INTERNET ACCESS, THOUGH.
I made the reverse calendar (i.e. auto-scheduled list of tasks) in a simple, fluidy application in a short amount of time, despite having about 52 tasks and tiny subtasks on my reverse calendar (everything it will take to finish, 28 of which are to fill in lit review forms).

FINALLY: A truly, truly realist calendar!!!
This app allows you to enter best case – worst case scenario RANGES OF TIME for how long each task will take you to complete. Then it schedules all tasks so that the completion date for the FINAL task is estimated for you as a range.

Here are two videos I made about it (if you let the videos load and EXPAND THEM TO FULL BROWSER SIZE, you can see better/more):

Video 1 (3:14 in duration): Intro . . . a super fast overview that doesn’t show the reverse calendar, but just quickly shows the app work space

Video 1:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-24b4cXLpUk

Video 2 (9:48 in duration): Shows how you can start the timer and stop the timer on a task, link from the task to the FILE ON YOUR COMPUTER related to the task, and most of the major details about the app as a whole

Video 2:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ExQd39ekks

Just had to share, in case this can really help some folks to start getting a grip on their project/thesis/dissertation/tasks/motivation/focus/etc. You REALLY see your project once you have a reverse calendar. This one just stays accurate the whole way through. SOBERING and ENCOURAGING all at once, ya know?


Do you WORK your quirk?


I hope this post finds you well!

So, I just read a powerful book chapter, and it so made me think that I wanted to share.

Here’s an excerpt:

Chapter Title: I’ll Just Take the Shrimp: Embrace Your Weaknesses
Book: 18 Minutes by Peter Bregman, pp. 52, 53, 54

[Set up: Geoff, a very, VERY rich man, refuses to pay $1 extra–just $1!–to exchange salmon for shrimp on his salad, as he had desired to do.]

“What do you call that? Cheap? Strange? Dysfunctional? I call it the secret to his success. Not yours, by the way. His.

Geoff has a fixation on value. He can’t stand the idea of spending a single extra dollar if it doesn’t provide at least two dollars of extra value. Maybe that’s extreme. But so is a fortune (and foundation) of hundreds of millions of dollars. He’s not successful despite the quirk; he’s successful because of it.

And what’s made Geoff successful is that he’s not embarrassed about it. Or ashamed. he doesn’t hide or repress or deny it.

He uses it.

. . .

‘The most interesting novels,’ Newsweek editor Malcolm Jones wrote in a recent book review, ‘are the ones where the flaws and virtues can’t be pulled apart.’

That’s even truer for people. The most powerful ones don’t conquer their dysfunctions, quirks, and potentially embarrassing insecurities. They seamlessly integrate them to make an impact in the world.

Another man I know was the driving force behind health reforms that saved the lives of millions of people in the developing world. Literally millions. Certainly he achieved this feat with great strengths. . . .

But he had a quirk. He lived and worked in the hyper-intellectual world of the academia, where nuance is valued far above simplicity. Success as an academic traditionally lies in one’s ability to see and expound the gray.

But he never saw the gray. He saw the world in black and white, right and wrong. This simplistic view of the wold is something that people in academia try to hide or overcome all the time. But he never hid his simplicity. He embraced it. And that was the source of his power, the secret ingredient that enabled him to save so many lives. He cut through the morass of a debate and arrived at the simplicity of righteous action.

. . .

We all have quirks and obsessions like these. Maybe won don’t admit them, even to ourselves. Or we worry that they detract from our success and work hard to train ourselves out of them.

But that’s a mistake. Our quirks very well may be the secret to our power. . . .”

So, aside from your feelings about Bregman’s characterization of the academy, do you have a major quirk that you work?

I’m inspired! I keep centering on the sentence “They seamlessly integrate them [those quirks of theirs] to make an impact in the world.”

So, I’ve been viewing my quirk as a problem, and it would be AWESOME (and is highly possible, I think!!!) to have it work in my favor as a researcher-writer and joiner-to-my-field.

Just wanted to share! Thought-provoking, no?


The Good that COULD NEVER Have Happened without the Bad That SHOULD NEVER Have Happened


When I’ve been thesis-ing for hours and just reach a point where I can’t process another dat-gum thesis-related thought, I switch to some other activity such as (a) watching episodes of “Suits” (USA) or “The Big Bang Theory;” (b) taking a walk; (c) “fixin'” myself a healthy snack; (d) or reading what I intend to be non-thesis pleasure reading or personal development reading.

So, I just read the most INTERESTING phrase in one of the personal development -type books I’m currently reading during thesis down-time. It is:

“In the case of human-caused evil, it will be a good that never could have happened without the evil that never should have happened. We’re dealing with the mystery of paradox here.”–Paul F. Knitter

Mm. What a profound description to bring to the fore the neatness and coolness of such occurrences, ya know? It’s like in the bible story of Joseph when he tells his brothers, “You meant it for my bad but God meant it for my good” (serious paraphrase).

So, once again, my non-thesis related reading takes me straight back to thinking about my thesis and graduate school and life in general.

Question for you: Has this happened in your thesis or diss writing, or in your graduate school experience as a whole . . . that something really important and good has come of and is only possible because of something bad that never should have happened?

It might be some good idea, good resource, good connection, good meeting, good class, good opportunity, what have you, that happened precisely because initially something “bad” happened.

I dunno! I’m sure this has occurred for me, but I’ll have to think about it a moment before I have clarity about it.

And you? Any such joyous, inspirational, and/or victorious stories of this nature to share?

Regardless, it’s a thought-provoking phrase, yes? Food for thought indeed!

Blessings, and I hope your day is bright today.  


Understanding the Affective and Cognitive Domains of Researching, and Making These Work FOR Ourselves and Not Against Ourselves

As a blossoming researcher, how are you treating yourself, emotionally and psychologically speaking? What are YOUR tips for staying in a mode and mindset of self-care?

The Research Skill Development Framework of Cognitive and Affective Facets can help you learn better how to treat yourself well–even as you are in development. Below I share a post I recently shared in response to a Phinished thread prompting us to post what’s helping us manage as we complete the journey. I hope you find something within it that’s a help! Blessings!


So, I love the table attached below. (Please click on the image to ENLARGE it for viewing.)



It’s from this web page http://rsdf.wikispaces.com/Describin…of+researching
There is a RSD (Research Skill Development) Framework PDF available here: http://www.adelaide.edu.au/rsd/
And its developers request that this citation information accompanying its sharing: Willison, J. and O’Regan, K. (2007). ‘Commonly known, commonly not known, totally unknown: a framework for students becoming researchers’. Higher Education Research and Development, 26(4), December 2007, pp. 393-409.

I never thought about it before encountering that table, but I find it all QUITE helpful regarding self-evaluation: From this info, I now know a little bit BETTER how to do self-evaluation that is PRODUCTIVE (causative of positives and growth!) and less . . . emotional or “self-unkind” and detrimental.

Anyhow . . . according to the RSD model, there are AFFECTIVE facets to the COGNITIVE SKILLS entailed in research, and these affective facets run from a spectrum of DEFICIT to EXCESS. This model seems to be saying there is a sweet spot of affect for each cognitive skill/task, as follows:

  1. Skill/taskEmbarking on research . . . Desired affectInspired (on a scale from disengaged (deficit) to unfocused (excess)
  2. Skill/taskFind information and generate data . . . Desired affectDetermined (see the table image above for the scale)
  3. Skill/taskEvaluate information/data/process . . . Desired affectDiscerning (see the table image above for the scale)
  4. Skill/taskOrganize information and manage . . . Desired affectHarmonizing (see the table image above for the scale)
  5. Skill/taskAnalyze and synthesize . . . Desired affectCreative (see the table image above for the scale)
  6. Skill/taskApply and communicate, considering ethical, cultural, & social dimensions . . . Desired affectConstructive (see the table image above for the scale)

This was VERY helpful for me. Downright illuminating!:

I was able to look at my uni and see what cognitive skills they help me to develop and which they cannot or do not help me develop. I decided that I am responsible for my self-development. Even though I sometimes wish these things were treated more explicitly, there may be great and totally sensible reasons why they are not. I’ve learned to withhold judgment until I’ve had to do a thing my own self. (I’ve learned: I don’t know WHAT it’s like having to advise and teach grad students in that environment. I don’t know WHAT hurdles the faculty surmounts and WHAT battles faculty members fight in order to help my peers and myself.)

Regardless, I am responsible for myself . . . for developing these cognitive and affective facets to my advantage, whether with help from my uni or elsewhere.

What can I do to help myself? I can seek out mentors. I can monitor my affect by asking myself “Where AM I on the spectrum right now regarding the task/skill in which I’m engaged at the moment? Am I being excessive regarding this task/skill? If so, why? And how can I stop?”

Another thing I can do with this is to conduct a needs-resource analysis: “I’m anxious. Why? If it’s because a skill of mine is underdeveloped, where/how can I improve it? If it’s not THAT (because I know I’ve got the skill), but it’s just that I’m ‘thinking wrong’ about it or my progress to the end of experiencing detrimental affect . . . how do I turn it around? Do I join a writing group for perspective? Do I post for help and vibes at Phinished? What?”

I hope to be able to be mindful of these and help my students–at least with awareness and direction to help regarding these facts–should I ever advise a thesis-er or dissertater.

So that is a brief explanation of how I began in utilizing the RSD Framework. I wish you perspective, stick-to-it-iveness, and adaptability! I hope you all are finding great ways to be kind to self: Every now and then I have to remind myself: “Mickey, there are some things only YOU can do for yourself. No one can eat for you. Likewise, no one can stop self-badgering you. And that is important because you are always WITH yourself!!! So, it’s YOU who has got to do that–to stop any self-badgering. Don’t self-badger; Instead, skill develop!!!”

What are YOUR tips for staying in a mode and mindset of self-care? And what are your thoughts about the RSD Framework, either the cognitive facts, the affective facets, or both? Please post away by clicking on the comment bubble icon above this post.

Blessings and vibes, all!