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World’s most sadistic alarm clock. . . and more | Issue 193

As Maya Angelou said, "Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it." Our new supplement to our traditional issues will help you do your best and feel your best—and get that dissertation out the door. You'll find tips for career networking, getting out of bed, funding your degree, recalling emails, and feeling better about dissertation length.


1. The ACE Fast Track to Hot Non-Academic Careers


More Ph.D.'s than ever work outside academia—so start your career exploration early. Building the needed professional network can seem scary or difficult. But it gets more doable when you follow the free Active Career Exploration (ACE) plan created by University of Michigan Ph.D. students and postdocs. They show how you can invest ten hours to develop the vital connections to smooth your transition to a rewarding non-academic career. Get started by reading here how to identify, contact, and interview successful people in your areas of interest.


2. Wake Yourself with the Most Sadistic Alarm Clock App Ever


Just how challenged are you to get up each morning? Now you can choose the most apt app to help you get moving. Hit "snooze" and Better Me will shame you by posting your laziness to your Facebook page, while Wake N Shake insists you shake your phone to turn it off. Meanwhile, Morning Routine keeps ringing until you scan barcodes of household items, making it "the most sadistic alarm clock we've seen," according to Thorin Klosowski at Lifehacker. He notes that if scanning barcodes is too boring for you, Sleep If U Can forces you to take pictures. Details here.


3. Physics PhD Hopeful Finds Innovative Way to Fund Degree


Newly graduated from Wesleyan with a physics degree, LaNell Williams dreams of joining the 74 other African American women who hold a physics doctorate. (Note: 1,743 doctorates were awarded in the U.S. physics in 2013.) She hopes to attend the Fisk-Vanderbilt Master's-to-PhD Bridge Program that provides support to promising science baccalaureates. To raise the needed funds for basic expenses, she turned to GoFundMe, where $4,170 of the needed $5000 has already been donated.


4. How to Avoid Drama at Your Dissertation Defense


Unnerved by tales of harrowing dissertation defenses that sound more like scarring coming-of-age rituals? While that phenomenon is relatively rare, the principle of "testing" the candidate still prevails, says one Texas Tech dean. "A successful defense. . . is not just a knowledge quiz; it is also about performance and communication," asserts David P. Perlmutter, Ph.D., in his Chronicle career column. His counsel: Give your committee plenty of time to express concerns in advance; know your material cold; rehearse well; present clearly with summaries and handouts; be the first to mention the dissertation's limitations and problems; and defend without getting defensive. Full article here. You might also set up a "mock defense" with peers, as described in the ABD Survival Guide archives.


5. Wish You Could Undo that Email You Just Sent?


Did you regret hitting "send" on that frustration-filled email to your advisor just as it flew out into cyberspace? Now you can undo it—if you use Gmail. Here's how: Click on the gear icon, then select "Settings." Scroll down to "Undo Send." You can choose an "undo window" of 5, 10, 20, or 30 seconds. Be sure to hit "Save Changes" at page bottom. Read more here. [Editor's tip: Forget the "undo" button. Instead of sending that incendiary email, save it in your drafts folder overnight. In the morning, you are more likely to do what is in your own best interest.]


6. Your Dissertation Is Too Short!


One data mining ABD blogger devised a unique way to procrastinate by analyzing the average length of electronic dissertations in the University of Minnesota library system. In the 2,536 dissertations completed since 2007, he found pages ranged from a scanty 21 to a stupefying 2,002. Most dissertations were around 100 to 200 pages. Chapters may account for less than 50% of the page length, he notes, as considerable space gets filled by formatting requirements and appendices. As much as dissertators obsess about number of pages, quantity is never a good indicator of quality.


Watch for our upcoming announcement of our free ABD Survival Guide summer teleseminars in our next issue.





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About the Authors


An accomplished coach, workshop leader, keynote speaker, and educator, Gayle earned her doctorate in social psychology from the University of New Hampshire. Her deep expertise in positive psychology allows her to help clients build their personal strengths, positive habits, and confidence to overcome procrastination, self-doubts and other blocks in order to reach vital academic and personal goals. In addition to editing the ABD Survival Guide, she contributed two chapters to the positive psychology anthology, Women's Paths to Happiness. Contact her at for coaching, presentations, and workshops on thriving in graduate school and beyond, and find free resources at She also speaks fluent Spanish and delights in new exotic Scrabble words as she savors life in the Chesapeake Bay area, California, and Argentina.


BEN DEAN, Publisher, ABDSG
Ben holds a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Texas at Austin. He began writing the ABDSG in 1997. Over the years, the ABDSG has published hundreds of articles and provided thousands of hours of pro bono coaching and teleworkshops to ABDs all over the world. Ben is also the founder of MentorCoach (, a virtual university focused on training accomplished professionals to become part-time or full-time coaches. You may wish to subscribe to the Coaching Toward Happiness eNewsletter! It's on applying the science of Positive Psychology to your work and life (131,000 readers). Ben lives in suburban Maryland with his wife, Janice, their two children, and Dusty, their Norwegian dwarf bunny.



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