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Category Archives: Motivation, Discipline & Routine

The middle of the academic year is always the time where students find themselves in a frenzy over just one thing: DATA. How many participants? Where and how to find them? And then what? It’s overwhelming. Now is the time to take stock of the overall picture– where you are at and if you’re progressing on schedule. Take double stock of your data– this is the backbone of your thesis. Data handling has many moving parts, and many students do not make the transition from student to researcher with ease. It’s a giant leap and requires meticulous record-keeping and strategy. If you’re lucky, your research will yield plenty of studies to use as your scaffold, but you will have to conduct your own research, compare it to previous findings, and come to some (hopefully) new and fresh conclusions.  If you’re in the throws of your thesis year, you’ll know I’m…

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Writing a thesis is a singular and solitary journey. You may well have the support from your family, an amazing supervisor and an academic coach to help you navigate the challenges and obstacles (of which, let’s be 100% honest, there are many), but in the end, you and only you can be the one to put the words on the page. And you, only you, will be awarded the degree/diploma in the end. Therefore, You are the champion and you have to learn to champion yourself. What do I mean? While having everyone else cheer you on throughout the thesis writing process may give you the warm and fuzzies, you need to be your own biggest fan. It’s not conceited to have a healthy amount of self-confidence in your abilities or to champion yourself. In fact, I’d like to argue the opposite is true. If you don’t believe in yourself,…

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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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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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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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You don’t know what you don’t know. Coaching in the athletic arena was first documented in the mid-1800s, but it wasn’t until the 1980s that coaching as a profession, outside of sports, emerged.  For many, the notion of engaging with a coach is still a foreign concept. Why on earth would you pay a stranger to tell you what to do? Which brings us back to: you don’t know what you don’t know. Once you’ve experienced quality coaching in an area of your life that is truly meaningful for example, work, relationships or academia, your life, and I do not say this lightly,  will never be the same again – for the better. If you are feeling stuck, anxious, fearful, not sure what to do next you would benefit from quality coaching. Having someone think through the options with you to illuminate thinking, resources, and actions that were hidden before…

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“If you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will.” This is just one example of many of the a-ha moments triggered whilst reading Greg McKeown’s book, Essentialism: The Discipline of Pursuing Less. This blog aims to serve as a summary of the book – not an original article proposing an opinion thereof.  Greg believes that our society is consumed with wanting more and that’s why we consistently take on additional things.  How many of these statements ring true for you? How often have you responded yes to a request without really thinking about it? How often have you signed up for something and then resented it? How often have you said yes simply to please? How often have you said yes simply to avoid trouble? Greg recognises that we face an unholy alliance between social media, smartphones, and consumerism. He suggests that “it’s not all bad, but certain forces that…

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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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With the office Christmas party invitations flooding in, and end of year meetups filling up your calendar, not to mention that Woolies Christmas mince pies are already getting shelf space – you’re right in feeling that the silly season is fast approaching. But before you find yourself spinning, take a moment to reflect and prepare to attain a sufficient and sustainable balance in all the areas of your life, so that you can still be productive and have fun amidst the goings-on of the season. One thing is for sure, you are going to have to adjust your schedule. Pretending that your rigid work-study-life programme is still valid through December is probably the biggest mistake you can make. Don’t allow tiredness, burn out and loss of energy to deplete your self-esteem and confidence levels over this demanding time of year.  Because there is no energy in the pit of low…

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