While the process of completing your dissertation can be taxing on its own, the challenges can be compounded by our personal weaknesses. Juggling the demands of the committee and outside obligations requires a high-level of organization and timeliness in your communication. Often, committee members operate with the expectation that your dissertation work takes priority over other areas of your life. Although this may not align with your other priorities, making sure you are timely and thorough in your approach to your work with them is key.
Your ability to triage work is important in order to make sufficient and timely progress. One important piece of advice is to remember that ignored e-mails do not go away. Occasionally, committee members will provide feedback that seems massive and unwieldy. Breaking the feedback down into what is manageable in a short time, manageable given a bit more time, and what you need assistance with prior to addressing can help you confront their feedback. From there, organize your approach. Follow up with your committee regarding the feedback that you need assistance in addressing. Once you have sent them your follow up message, give yourself a deadline to address the remaining feedback. Give yourself a shorter deadline for the easy feedback and a longer deadline for the more involved feedback. Set both of these deadlines shorter than the time your committee has to respond to your message requesting further clarification. That way, by the time your committee replies, you will have addressed or will be in the process of addressing the feedback that you can handle on your own.
Finally, remember that you are going to function as a communication hub for your committee. Your role as researcher requires you to communicate effectively with your committee and to be responsible for passing along communication among committee members. Be sure to remain on top of communication, because delayed communication can cost you valuable time and progress. Capitalize on the momentum you currently have by remaining engaged and proactive and remember that your committee will only be as invested in your progress as you are!
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