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Category Archives: Effective Planning

The second chapter of your thesis is the literature review (LR), and it is this segment of the written work that often presents as a major stumbling block for students. The biggest issue is not being certain where to start. What is a Literature Review? This is the culmination of all your research, succinctly presented and scrutinised for it’s worth. All that reading and gathering of articles, academic papers and books you read will feature here. In this chapter, you will provide an overview of key findings, concepts and developments in relation to your research problem or question.  As you make your way through the research, you should begin the writing process—take notes that you can later incorporate into the text of your literature review. It is important to keep track of your sources with citations to avoid plagiarism.  A useful technique is to copy and paste pieces of articles…

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Before you get properly stuck into writing your thesis, there’s an important action for you to take. I’m not talking about doing more literature searches or setting up appointments with your supervisor, there’ll be plenty of that in the coming months. The most crucial action you can take right now before the year starts unravelling is to get your mind right and your systems in place. These are the foundations that will hold up all the work you will do in the coming months. What do I mean by getting your mind right and your systems in place? James Clear, the author of Atomic Habits says this:    “You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems. Your goal is your desired outcome. Your system is the collection of daily habits that will get you there. This year, spend less time…

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2020 turned our lives upside down and inside out and it’s not over yet. So, how do we make resolutions for the coming year with this continuing uncertainty? We don’t. Instead, we become master strategists of our own success stories. We have learned that resolutions don’t always last and we understand that it takes more than a declaration to achieve a goal. Therefore, now, more than ever, articulating specific goals to give purpose to our restricted existence is essential. The difference between a resolution that is merely a whimsical wish and a resolution that amounts to achieving a well-considered objective that aligns to your top-priority values, is colossal.  And, formulating a realistic strategy and plan to achieve that goal is fundamental to your success.  Think about completing your thesis or dissertation in 2021. This undeniably amounts to more than just a resolution. It is tangible. You can feel it in…

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If your thesis or dissertation year commences in the new year, and you’re already contemplating the tasks of research and academic writing, this article is for you. Instead of just thinking about what the year will hold as you take on this mammoth task, you can be proactive and start planning right now. Reducing stress, managing your time effectively, and even saving money are some of the major benefits of grabbing the bull by the horns, before the countdown clock starts ticking on 1 January.   What does it really mean to be proactive? The best description I’ve come across is that of proaction expert Thomas S Bateman, who explains that  “…it (proaction) is the “possible you” that 1) spots and prevents problems, 2) identifies, pursues, and captures opportunities, and 3) creates a new, personally-chosen, desired future through a strategic change of trajectory.” Being proactive makes room for possibility and…

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October and the early weeks of November may be the very months in which you feel like you’ve simply “had enough” on your thesis journey. You’re exhausted, stressed and plain old gatvol. While some might convince themselves that they have done all they can and take their foot off the gas at this point, students who push through and work on polishing their thesis are the ones that take their work from good to great and possibly distinction. This is your time to shine: your time to step up where others are slowing down; your time to dig deep for the final sprint and your time to demonstrate mental strength. This is tenacity, the ability to keep going when others give up.   Mental strength Here are some ways you can build up your mental strength and actively put tenacity into practice. Remember that you are in control. There’s a…

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Is your definition of success to pass your degree? What if I told you your definition is too weak, too vague and that should you reach the milestone of passing the final exams or thesis component you still won’t achieve the sense of fulfilment you crave?  Here’s the proven truth about experiencing success in all it’s glory: you need to be specific. You need to apply a level of introspection, decide what success actually means to you. Just you. Not your boss, your partner, or anyone else – just you. According to Debbie Allen’s book Success is Easy: “The meaning of success is different for each person. You may not fit into other people’s definition of success, but you can give yourself permission to be OK with that. Success is an individual concept. Here’s the exciting part: you get to define and design your own success, which will become the…

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While there are numerous definitions of “accountability” most explanations point to one’s willingness to accept responsibility for one’s actions. Other explanations reference the words blame, victim, liability, and answerability. While there is some truth in these heavily emotive words, simply put, being accountable is doing what you say you will do: staying true to your word by following through on your commitments and (here’s the bull’s eye) showing up.     In it’s purest form, accountability is made up of an obligation + an action + a specified other person. Showing up for the specified other person is the crux of true accountability. It’s more than just getting the job done, it’s about having a dedicated individual care about whether you’re achieving your goals. The American Society of Training and Development (ASTD) did a study on accountability and found that you have a 65% chance of completing a goal if…

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Writing a research project, thesis or dissertation is a colossal task. However, it can be accomplished if one exercises discipline and hones their organizational skills. I strongly advise my student clients to categorise and collate all aspects of their research from the beginning of their project; leaving sufficient time for vital complementary responsibilities such as formatting, proofreading, and editing. Even the best-laid plans can veer off course. Few students get through the year without at least one or two significant hiccups and some end up facing a personal or professional crisis whilst working towards the looming submission deadline. In my experience, as an academic performance coach, I’ve navigated these crises alongside my students. I’ve seen some major, and in some instances, multiple, obstacles overcome by students. What’s the secret? Tenacity. That saying, “When times get tough, the tough get going,” has never been more true than when I’ve worked with…

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When you begin your studies with a postgrad degree, remember that you are committed to produce and pass a thesis or dissertation before you graduate.  Choosing the all-important thesis topic may well be the very first challenge you encounter at this stage of the programme. What is a thesis topic? A thesis is an idea or theory that is expressed as a statement, a contention for which evidence is gathered and discussed logically. However, at its core, the thesis is nothing more than a simple question that requires a long-detailed answer. Aim for relevant research instead of groundbreaking Many students start out with lofty ideals of writing a groundbreaking paper that will get recognized as a published piece in an academic journal. But the clock ticks loudly, and too much time spent thinking up “the next best thing”, simply for the sake of it being ‘the next best thing’ can…

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When we take up exercise and eat healthier, we are often driven by improving our bodies: losing the extra kilos, or improving flexibility. We hardly think about the beneficial effects of physical activity and what we eat on our brains – and I don’t mean only for mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. Regular cardio exercise (30 minutes 3-4 times a week) along with the incorporation of memory boosting food will not only elevate your mood but will, essentially, make you smarter. Your brain likes you to move it, move it Researchers have found that regular aerobic exercise, the kind that gets your heart and sweat glands pumping, appears to boost an area of the brain called the hippocampus (responsible for verbal memory and learning). And if you’re wondering if resistance training has the same effect, the answer is no.  Exercise helps memory and thinking through both direct…

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