Thinkwell Workshops

Maria Gardiner and Hugh Kearns have worked as an award winning team for the past fifteen years. They are well known as leading practitioners and researchers in cognitive behavioural coaching. As well as publishing ten books that have sold many thousands of copies, they are regular contributors to Australian media, including a popular segment on ABC radio.

Their particular expertise is in working with high performers and they have a long history of providing specialist services to the medical and academic professions.

For more information visit their website.

When: Wednesday 8 March 2023 at 9:30am - 12pm AEST

Register here:

A PhD is a major undertaking yet many people spend more time planning a weekend away than they do planning the next three years of their life. This generally leads to missing deadlines, running overtime, regular crises and lots of stress. If you want to finish on time and enjoy the process along the way then it is important to have a good plan.

You need some very specific skills and tools to plan a PhD. This workshop will introduce you to the PhD Planning Toolkit. You will learn how to use these tools to:

  • create your big picture thesis plan
  • unpack your thesis down into logical parts
  • create tasks lists for each stage of your thesis
  • estimate times and schedule tasks
  • create a Gantt chart for your thesis
  • keep on track as you implement your plan
  • plan your writing
  • manage the finances
  • identify risks and deal with setbacks

At the end of the workshop you will have your own PhD Planning Toolkit and know how to use it to plan your PhD.

When: Wednesday 8 March 2023 at 2pm - 4pm AEST

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Would you like to know the secret to high output, high quality, scholarly writing? In academia, because writing is such a big part of what you do, it is often assumed that it comes naturally. However, for most academics, it can be a hit and miss activity, with some days (weeks or even months!) being hard to get started. And when you do get started you might sit there for hours and not produce many words. Finally, when the words are on the page, you may wonder why you bothered since what you have written isn’t very good.

This workshop draws on the overwhelming body of research (and experience with thousands of writers). This research shows that there are very clear and practical evidence-based strategies that can greatly increase your writing quality and quantity. Key aspects of this workshop have featured in the journal Nature.

This workshop will help you to understand:

  • why it can be hard to get started
  • how we deliberately use distractions to slow down writing
  • the principles of quick starting
  • why snack writing is generally more productive than binge writing
  • how to deal with the internal committee that slows down writing
  • how to set achievable goals by writing in a silo
  • how to greatly double (or more) the number of actual words you produce
  • how to clarify your thinking and improve the quality of your work

When: Tuesday 18 April 2023 at 9:30am - 12pm AEST

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What do research higher degree (RHD) students do to finish on time, to overcome isolation, doubt and writer’s block, and to enjoy the process? And just as importantly what do they do in order to spend guilt-free time with their family and friends and perhaps even have holidays? If this sounds appealing, then this session will be of particular use to you.

This workshop describes the key habits that our research and experience with thousands of students shows will make a difference to how quickly and easily you complete your RHD. Just as importantly, these habits can greatly reduce the stress and increase the pleasure involved in completing a RHD.

The workshop helps you to understand how to increase your effectiveness and outcomes in the following key areas:

  • how you deal with your supervisor
  • how you structure your study time
  • your attitude (or lack thereof!) in relation to your research
  • dealing with writer’s block or having difficulty writing
  • getting the help you need when you are stuck
  • juggling multiple commitments and never having enough time
  • keeping on going when the going gets tough

When: Friday 21 April 2023 at 9:30am - 12pm AEST

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If you're a researcher then at some stage you are going to have to present your findings. It's tempting to get up and just read your paper, but to really speak to your audience you need to be able to communicate skilfully and with conviction. We've all been to dull presentations so it's worth your while spending a little time to learn how to do it properly.

This workshop will provide a clear step-by-step structure that you can use again and again to give high quality presentations. It will cover:

  • How to make your message relevant to your audience
  • How to structure and link parts of your talk
  • Preparing materials, notes, handouts, PowerPoint
  • Practicing
  • Delivery
  • How to handle questions
  • Dealing with nervousness

And it will be interactive and fun!

When: Wednesday 21 June 2023 at 9:30am - 12pm AEST

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Do you know the single most important thing that determines the quality of a piece of academic writing? You might think it is the data that you have. Or perhaps it is the literature on which you base your research question. Maybe it is the theory you choose. While all these things are important, none of them is as important as the narrative that you construct in your writing.

This workshop will show you why narrative is so important and how to construct a narrative. There will be demonstrations of creating a narrative and opportunity to practice creating your own narrative for either a part of your work or your whole work.

In this workshop you will learn:

  • why narrative is so important
  • where you will find the narrative
  • the power of the 10 year old, and if that doesn’t work, the border collie
  • how language gets in the way of narrative
  • how to recognise narrative in others work
  • how to write the narrative of your own piece of work

When: Wednesday 21 June 2023 at 2pm - 4pm AEST

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Increasingly PhD students are being told to publish during their candidature and many students are hoping to complete a PhD that consists substantially or entirely of publications. Some universities now require students to publish at least one paper during their candidature.

While this is a great way to help students be more employable in academia once they have finished, it can be daunting as a student when you don’t understand how the “secret squirrel society” works. This workshop will help to unpack how publishing in academia works so that you have a better understanding of how to successfully publish during your PhD.

In this workshop you will learn about:

  • journal selection: impact factors, h-indexes, SCIMAGO
  • getting past the first hurdle: the editor
  • getting past the second hurdle: the reviewers
  • tips for abstracts
  • what are journals looking for?
  • why publication is just the beginning!

When: Wednesday 12 July 2023 at 9:30am - 11:30am AEST

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No matter how well you prepare for your presentation, the part that freaks out most researchers is question time.

  • What if there are no questions?
  • What if they ask really tricky questions that I can’t answer?
  • Worse, what if they ask really easy questions that I can’t answer?
  • What do I do if I don’t know the answer?
  • What do I do if I can’t understand the question?

Fortunately, you can prepare for question time. You can predict and get ready for most of the obvious questions. And you can learn strategies to deal with the others.

  • Topics will include:
  • Preparing for questions
  • Inviting questions
  • Dealing with tricky questions
  • What to do if you don’t know
  • Coping with the anxiety
  • Lists of typical questions
  • Asking questions

When: Thursday 27 July 2023 at 2pm - 4pm AEST

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A lot of hard work and time goes into conducting research. And then more time and work goes into publishing the results. And yet sadly many papers are never read and many findings are never translated into practice. So how do you communicate effectively about your research and its impact? This is important to fulfil funding obligations, to create further funding and collaboration opportunities, to encourage the application of your findings and for your own career.

In this workshop you will learn strategies for:

  • Developing a communication strategy
  • Pitching your message to the your audience
  • How to make it accessible without dumbing down
  • Dealing with media
  • Using new media
  • Developing your one minute pitch
  • Dealing with the discomfort of it all

When: Wednesday 6 September 2023 at 2pm - 4pm AEST

Register here: TBA

These days if you want to work in academia when you finish your PhD it is important to know there are no guarantees for getting a job, so you should always have a plan B! But that doesn’t mean you can’t do some things to try and position yourself favourably so that it at least remains an option.

And at the moment you are probably so busy just trying to get your PhD finished that it is hard to even think about what might come next. However, if you are interested in continuing in academia, it is now, while doing your PhD, that it would be good to think about what this might entail and what you could be doing to increase your chances of getting a job.

This workshop will discuss what is involved in a career as an academic. What is expected of you and what skills are required. We will also discuss things you can be doing now that will make it more likely that you will get a job. This will involve a combination of strategic choices (publishing, presenting, etc.) and getting yourself known (self-promotion, but done nicely!).

In this workshop you will learn:

  • what being an academic/researcher is really like
  • what is expected of academics/researchers
  • what you could be doing now to increase your chances of getting a job in academia
  • what are reasonable research goals for your discipline
  • how to get yourself known
  • how to make contacts that will increase your chances of getting a job
  • how to generally improve your profile and make yourself more interesting!
  • how to deal with the uncertainty of employment in academia

When: Thursday 7 September 2023 at 9:30am - 11:30am AEST

Register here: TBA

Thirty years of the best research in psychology has shown that it is possible to change habits and behaviours that can get in the way of us achieving our full potential. It is possible to change the beliefs that underpin our behaviours and consequently our successes. Despite there being an incontrovertible evidence base for how to improve our thinking and therefore our behaviours, the skills required to do this are not readily available to those wanting to maximise their performance. This unique workshop will bring you the latest research and practice in cognitive behavioural coaching (CBC) and show you how to apply it to your everyday (and academic) life.

This workshop is an excellent one to do if you have already attended other ThinkWell courses, although it will still be useful for those who are attending for the first time.

In this workshop you will:

  • find out what CBC is
  • understand the fundamental thinking errors that reduce our performance
  • discover how we can use CBC to improve our performance
  • develop the skills you need to use it for yourself
  • explore other things that CBC is good for – writing, confidence, resilience, work/life balance, good mental health and more!

When: Thursday 12 October 2023 at 9:30am - 11:30am AEST

Register here: TBA

Many graduate students cite getting and dealing with feedback from their supervisors as one of the most frustrating areas of candidature. You can wait for ages and when it comes it’s not what you wanted. Feedback is essential to help you make progress and improve the quality of you outputs. But if you just say “give me feedback” you are leaving it completely up to chance. So what can you do to ensure you get the feedback you need?

This workshop will look at asking more specific questions and being clear about the type of feedback you want. It will cover:

  • create your big picture thesis plan
  • when to get feedback
  • how to ask
  • getting timely feedback
  • feedback on writing, feedback on performance, on everything
  • written and verbal feedback
  • interpreting feedback
  • dealing with the emotional reaction to feedback
  • how to respond to feedback
  • how do you manage the feedback you didn’t want?

When: Thursday 19 October 2023 at 2pm - 4pm AEST

Register here: TBA

Working in research is both an exciting and challenging experience. It can be an emotional roller-coaster. The excitement of working on something you care about, exploring new ideas and making a contribution to knowledge. The challenges of feeling isolated and overwhelmed, dealing with setbacks, uncertainty, conflict and loss of motivation. Inevitably over the course of your research career you will experience times when things aren’t going so well. This workshop draws on evidence-based strategies to help YOU stay well during your research career.

Topics will include:

  • Managing the workload
  • Resilience and finding a balance
  • Learning how to switch off
  • Dealing with worries about setbacks and progress
  • Good habits e.g. exercise, sleep, routines
  • Dealing with isolation, lack of structure and loss of motivation
  • Procrastination, perfectionism and over-committing
  • Disagreements with supervisors and other colleagues
  • Support for more serious mental health issues
  • Supporting friends/colleagues who may be struggling