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The importance of rest, reflection, and perspective

mm_collage_smallI’m taking a short (ten day) break from writing my dissertation proposal.  It’s weird to not be writing or thinking about writing.  I’m not much of a television watcher, but I love to listen to music and work with mixed media collage.  I also love to read and I’m reading Tywla Tharp’s book The Creative Habit: Learn it and use it for life.  While reading the book I realized that I have already incorporated some habits into my life, but I’ve always thought of them as productivity habits while Twyla calls them creativity habits.  These habits are really just mindsets, or ways of thinking, about how you will live your life.

I do the creative exercises in the book as they are introduced, and this prompted some reflection.  People often ask me what I will do once I finish my PhD and I always say I don’t know, I hadn’t planned to get a PhD and I’ve just been involved in living the process.  While it’s true I never planned specifically to get a PhD I have always planned to take advantage of opportunities to learn.  Taking advantages of opportunities is my habit.  I know lots of people who have had the same advantages presented to them, but the difference is, they don’t take advantage of them!

An especially helpful exercise for me at this time, is number 3: Face your Fears.  Turns out, facing my fears helps me to gain new perspective on the PhD process.  The process is not really any more difficult than many other things I’ve done.  A problem for me is that I wanted to make it a BIGGER thing than it is.  With my new perspective I realize that I will do the dissertation process until I get it right.  And I have excellent mentors to help me through the process. “Doing is better than not doing, and if you do something badly you’ll learn to do it better”. Twyla Tharp

So the time I’ve taken to rest my brain, think about what I’ve done and where I’m going, and take on a new perspective has been a valuable learning experience.  I think I’ll try to make this an annual rest, reflect, perspective experience one of my creative/productivity habits!

From there to here

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I’ve spent four years of writing and reflecting on my learning process in the Instructional Design and Development PhD program, I’m now a Doctoral candidate.  From here on it’s all dissertation!  On this blog I’ll be writing about the research process, academic workflows, and the tools I use and the tools I try out for the dissertation process.  Achieving the goal of doctor of philosophy includes managing time, resources, and administrative and academic tasks.  I’ll use this newly designed blog to write about all of these topics.  I hope others will find my posts useful as either a cautionary tale or advice on accomplishing academic processes.