Did you ever have a "non-day"? Or possibly even a "non-week"? Days when your mind felt fuzzy and you were not able to concentrate? Everyone has days like that, and for some reason they are very common among graduate students. Sometimes a day when you were supposed to get a lot done goes by without the single trace of tangible result. You know you want to be more productive, but how can you be when it is difficult to get your mind to focus?
It turns out that the thing that is toughest to do is what will get your mind to open up: writing. Just when you think there is no way you can write a sentence for a manuscript, presentation or thesis, the act of writing is the best medicine. By writing, I do not necessarily mean work-related writing, but journaling. Ideas are born with writing, and if you begin putting ideas on paper about anything at all (it does not even need to be grammatically or stylistically correct), sentences will soon pour out of you.
One of the reasons that journaling is so effective, is that it will bring underlying personal issues to your awareness. During journaling you might realize errands that need to be taken care of or personal ides that must be dealt with before you can concentrate on your work. It is also common for to-do's to arise while you are writing because our minds like to wander, especially when we are faced with a challenge. I usually keep a little notepad next to my computer and write the to-do's on it to attend to after I finished writing (sometimes by then they do not seem so urgent).
Journaling is also a great tool to help you get organized for studies or experiments. Writing will clear your mind, get your thoughts in order, and (most importantly) get ideas on paper. A good rule of thumb for journaling is two pages a day. Just put anything on the paper so you can keep writing. It will work.
Are you struggling with writing blocks? Have you found journaling useful (or useless)? We would love to hear from you! Simply click the orange reply button at the end of this post.
Wishing you the best,
Dora Farkas, PhD, Founder, PhDNet