In which we contemplate our February challenges

I have learned that I do not like working 7 days a week.  Even if one of those days is only for 30 min.

I learned that I will not get up and write for 30 min bright and bushy-tailed every morning  (me, either, says #2).  And that sometimes I need to do a bunch more non-writing work before it is obvious what I should be writing next.  Instead writing comes at different times of the day depending on whether or not it is obvious what writing needs to be done.  When there’s something pressing, morning writing is easiest.  When I have no clue, often something else takes precedence.  Trying to force myself to write in the morning when there’s something else work-related I would rather be doing results in me wasting an hour or three doing nothing but internet surfing.  Doing something work-related is better than doing nothing just to avoid writing.

Also with the 7 day a week writing, I found myself doing things that it would have probably been more efficient for my RA to do.  Like fixing citations.

I also learned that I probably can handle 6 days a week and forcing myself that 30 min can sometimes lead to an hour or three of happy productivity.  And I already knew that I can almost always find 30 min every day for 5 days a week and that writing pushes me to keep up with it through reading and research.  In fact, this past Sunday in March I just didn’t feel right until I did 30 min of writing starting around 6:30pm.  So maybe I’ll try to hit 6 days a week of writing instead of 5.

The other half chimes in:  I have learned that I probably shouldn’t commit to more reading challenges, especially ones with tight deadlines.  It makes something I do purely for fun into something more like work, and that doesn’t feel as good as it could.  However, I do really love the Monthly Challenges idea and its webpage, and I want to be able to show results there.  So that’s motivating.  I have also learned that inbox zero may not be possible when I’m getting 25 new emails in 14 hours, and almost all of them require me to do something or think something or write something or check something… gah.

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19 Responses to “In which we contemplate our February challenges”

  1. First Gen American Says:

    I think your line about reading challenges turning something fun into feeling like work is probably the main reason I think it’s hard to pursue your passion as a career, because then things you enjoy become work and they’re no longer as much fun but tedious instead.

    I think a big learning for me is to allow myself downtime. I tend to be super productive then crash..and I think I need to crash once in a while to prevent burnout.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Boicing is all about downtime. He finds that people are more productive when they are induced to work in small steady intervals with breaks rather than bursts of super productivity followed by crashing.

      • Rumpus Says:

        Boice’ing is awesome. Now if I could only do it. Maybe I should read it again. Instead I anti-Boice even though I’m totally a convert. Though if I didn’t have deadlines at all I would Boice (I also would get less done).

    • Rumpus Says:

      I decided in high school not to pursue one of my primary passions as a career because I was very concerned that doing something I loved for “work” would result in the passion burning out. Instead I feel like I missed a great opportunity to do something I love full time (and explore its intricacies, etc) instead of just trying to shoehorn it into my research efforts and what used to be my spare time. You know those people who are so completely focused on what they want to do with their careers? Maybe I could’ve been one. I tell my students that the hardest thing about what to do after college is figuring out what they want to do, and I actually actively made that harder for myself. Who knows if I would still have this passion if it was my job, but I know that as the years roll on there’s never enough time for it.

  2. Everyday Tips Says:

    I know your writing is different than mine, but I can’t force myself to write for my blog. If it isn’t flowing, it isn’t and I can’t do much about it.

    You need to get more emails like me that require absolutely no action whatsoever, except maybe sending all my private information to some oversees locale with the guarantee of me inheriting millions of dollars.

  3. Molly On Money Says:

    I agree about challenges that turn into work and away from the fun it was intended to be. Challenges get me motivated but I typically end up focusing on achieving some sort of balance with it.
    Good luck on the emails- I vacillate between a love and hate relationship with my inbox.

  4. Comrade PhysioProf Says:

    I have learned that there is a lot more to writing than actually putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard). And I have learned to recognize when what I am doing–while it might on the surface seem like procrastination–is actually providing an appropriate context for the subconscious action that precedes, and is required for, putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard).

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      We’re all about brief daily intervals and allowing the subconscious to do stuff… but, sometimes one really does have to put fingers to the keyboard. We include outlining and written brainstorming in the 30 min writing each day, but not reading articles, for example. It’s too easy to read just one more article etc. If we forced more than 30 min then I think we might be worried about missing out on the important subconscious stuff, but 30 min means we keep moving on things.

      But not 7 days a week. Working 7 days a week sucks.

      • Comrade PhysioProf Says:

        Yeah. Allz I’m sayin’ is that maybe what feels like “procrastination” is your subconscious telling you you’re not ready to pen to paper. (But I have not had trouble with writer’s block or long-term writing productivity, so maybe I have no f***en idea what I’m talking about in the case of people who do have such problems.)

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Nah, I agree with Boice that one should start before one is ready.

        And there’s almost always grunt writing work that can be done… rec letters, article reviews etc. Less glamorous stuff that is easier to pump out but not all that fun.

      • Comrade PhysioProf Says:

        Oh, you’re counting that shitte as “writing”?

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Sure, why not? It’s work writing and it has to get done.

        The blog doesn’t count though.

  5. Afford-Anything.com Says:

    I do think it’s important to write for 30 minutes a day. Lots of people have the idea that they need to feel “inspired” to write; that they have a muse that needs to visit them, or that it’s supposed to flow. This is where the concept of “writers block” comes from.

    I disagree. I worked as a reporter at a newspaper for years, and I had to write articles daily — whether or not the writing flowed! — that, I knew, would be published in the newspaper and read by thousands of people the next day. Having to write everyday forced me to become a better writer. So kudos to you for your 30 min a day, 6 days a week goal!

  6. Rumpus Says:

    I write easily when I have something to say. The words just flow and they go on paper from start to end and then a few editing passes and it’s done. I can write at other times, but what happens is that as I’m writing I realize what I don’t yet know how to say (or can’t say correctly). This week I was working on a paper for which I wasn’t yet sure what to say…and as I wrote it was clear that if I was in the reader’s shoes I would want to read an explanation on one of the details….unfortunately I didn’t have an explanation to give. So I stopped writing and worked on that and then ended up re-writing sizable chunks to accommodate my new understanding. And then it happened again and again. Which fits with another of Boice’s points, “start before you’re ready”, but what really happens is I explore something I find interesting until I have a bolus of knowledge (perhaps a minimum-publishable-bolus?) and that exploration can take months during which no writing occurs…and then there’s a flurry of writing as I put all my newfound understanding in print. Unfortunately, that means I can’t context-switch easily because I have to hold the entire problem space in my head at once to write about it.


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