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  • Writer's pictureMaria Stefanidi


I recently came across an enlightening podcast episode from Sandy Grigsby's "Life in focus" podcast.

In episode 20, she talks about a very simple acronym (S.T.A.R.T.), which she believes is the best thing anyone can do for themselves and their personal brand.

Now, you may wonder what your dissertation has to do with personal branding, and that's a fair question to ask...

My answer is that while listening to this whole S.T.A.R.T. idea, I couldn't help but think that it could be perfectly applied to anyone's dissertation journey.

And here is how.

Let's S.T.A.R.T. from the start!


What does S.T.A.R.T. stand for?


Even while working on your dissertation, It's critical that you prioritize your own health and well-being.

That's a rule you MUST follow!

Most students are so focused on their dissertations that they tend to forget all about taking care of themselves.

Has this happened to you?

Making time for self-care is essential to becoming the most productive student that you can be.

If you don't take care of your physical and mental health, your productivity and output will suffer. You will end up exhausted, overwhelmed, and stressed. In this way, you sabotage both your dissertation and yourself.

Self-care can include anything that makes you feel good, whether it's meditating, getting enough sleep, working out, eating healthy, hanging out with friends, or watching your favorite show.

Create a healthy routine and constantly check in with yourself.

Taking care of yourself NEEDS to be your top priority!


Your time is priceless.

Let's S.T.A.R.T. from that!

So, I guess it makes sense that if you spend your time doing things that aren't helping you move forward with your dissertation and if you procrastinate, then you are adding more stress and pressure onto yourself.

Don't waste any of your precious time.

Don't spend it; invest it.

Just say "no" to anything and anyone who doesn't help you grow and reach your goals.

Take control of your time by deciding where and how you will invest it. That way, you will become more productive.

Make rules for yourself and stick to them, no matter what!

Claim your time!

Time ownership is vital in all aspects of your life, whether academic, personal,


If you want to finish your dissertation, you must put in the effort.

That's a fact!

You are defined by what you do, not what you say you will do. There's a difference right there.

Action is everything.

Take small steps every single day, consistently and persistently, instead of just talking about how much you want to finish your dissertation.

Even the tiniest action will move you forward. So, don't stress out over the "end result."

It's okay if you don't finish it all at once. Simply ask yourself, "What is the next step that will propel me forward?"

Getting started is critical: Action breeds more action.

Don't underestimate the power of the smallest actions you can take.

"The journey of a thousand miles begins and ends with one step." - Lao Tse.


Reset means stop.

Allow your mind and body to rest and recharge after a long study session.

So, studying for 12 hours per day is out of the question. It's exhausting and ultimately unproductive. If you work for long periods of time, your work quality, speed, and ingenuity decline.

Allow your brain and body to rest by taking frequent breaks and stepping away from the screen. Do whatever allows you to disengage from your dissertation, just for a little bit.

You might want to take a power nap, go for a walk, get a glass of water, stretch, walk outside, do yoga or have a cup of coffee. It's entirely up to you.

To maximize your time, you need to recharge your id and body.


Total immersion is deep work. Deep work is defined as the work done in states of intense concentration.

In order to give 100% to your work, you must eliminate all distractions. So, you can turn off your phone, put on your headphones, block out time in your calendar, tell your roommate or friends and family not to disturb you, and so on. Make every effort to devote all your attention to your dissertation.


I would encourage you to take some time to map out how you will S.T.A.R.T. working on your dissertation.

  • What are you going to do to take care of yourself?

  • How are you going to take control of your time?

  • What actions are you planning to take to move towards finishing your dissertation?

  • How are you going to incorporate rest into your daily routine?

  • How are you going to totally immerse yourself in your research project?

If you enjoyed reading today's blog post, I encourage you to follow me on Instagram and Facebook for more tips, techniques, and tools to make your dissertation journey a success!


Have an amazing day!

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