The When: Setting realistic timeframes for your research

In the first two articles of this series, we explored The What: Defining a research project and The Where: Constructing an effective writing environment. In this article, we are focused on The When: Setting realistic timeframes for your research. Discussion from this TweetChat event focused on accurately estimating the amount of time necessary for completing writing projects and strategies to better manage the time commitments during the writing project.

Q1/1a: Do you regularly track the time spent on research efforts? When planning a research project, do you tend to accurately predict, overestimate, or underestimate the time required?

Defensive scheduling: Increase your productivity & piece of mind

I am a big, big fan of protecting time in your schedule. I live and die by my Google calendar because I can always access it, but on that calendar, you’ll find more than appointments.

There are two kinds of scheduling – appointment and defensive. Appointment scheduling is pretty self-explanatory – you have somewhere to be at a certain time, and so you put it in your calendar. These are the kinds of things that people usually use their calendar/schedule/planner for, and of course, it’s useful. It gets you to where you need to be when you need to be there!

But defensive scheduling is a little different. It’s about protecting time, rather than filling it up. You put something on your calendar so you WON’T give that time away to someone/something else. You claim your time before someone else does.

Focus time lets you do the work you’re obligated and committed to do

When I’m coaching and teaching academics, I recommend that they designate and protect four kinds of time: Free, Fixed, Focus, and Flow. Previously in this series, we looked at Free time and Fixed time. In this short article, let’s consider Focus time.

During designated Focus time, you deliberately design your half or full day to maximize what you accomplish from your task and project list. Before the Focus time block begins, you examine your upcoming deadlines, commitments, and progress milestones and then carefully decide what you will Focus on and for about how long.

To keep writing, use a time log

“What did I do today!” you wail. For the life of you, wiped out at the end of the day and ready for binge TV, you can’t remember anything you did except overeat for lunch. Maybe you recall writing for eight minutes midmorning and half-heartedly pecking at your journal article in progress, but otherwise the day’s a blank. And paradoxically, you feel you’re always so busy, dashing from one thing to the next and never getting it all done.

Sound familiar? Where does the time go? Especially for academic writers, with the responsibilities of teaching, mandatory committee meetings, office hours, reading endless memos, emailing responses, and comforting a colleague who just got her article rejected—again—it’s an ongoing challenge to take hold and wrestle our writing time to the ground, or desk.

Aggregate your fixed time commitments on fewer days

When I’m coaching and teaching academics, I recommend that they designate and protect four kinds of time: Free, Fixed, Focus, and Flow. Previously in this series, we looked at Free time.

In this article, let’s look at Fixed time. This is one of the areas where you can get control. And, you need to get control as quickly as you can, which requires that you be intentional about making the necessary changes.

3/25 TAA Webinar: “How Trello Can Transform Your Life as an Academic”

Do you juggle multiple teaching, scholarship and service projects and worry about ‘dropping the ball’? Do you wish you had one place to easily organize your life as an academic? Then Trello might be for you. Join us Monday, March 25 from 1-2 p.m. ET for the TAA webinar, How Trello Can Transform Your Life as an Academic, where Angelique M. Davis and Rose Ernst, both associate professors of political science at Seattle University, will provide an overview of the magic and logic of Trello. They will show you how to use it to masterfully manage multiple projects in one place—without having to switch between paper and multiple digital programs! They will also show you how to use Trello to move your scholarly projects forward. This will include a demonstration and template of a Trello board based on Erin Furtak’s publishing pipeline. You will leave this webinar with a plan to set up your Trello account so you can become a master juggler and calmly manage your academic life.