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Not forgetting everything you did last year

So I love a good plan, and a good schedule, and a good daily resumé/done list.

I keep track of all my projects on a white board and enjoy erasing the deadlines as they get met and ticked off. I often use post-it notes or index cards, and then rip them up into 4 when I’m done (as I discuss here) which is extremely satisfying. Even though this literally erases my achievements as they are completed, I finish each task and each day feeling like I’ve got things done.

For the last few years I’ve changed jobs or picked up new projects pretty often, so my CV needed to be updated multiple times a year. My CV was therefore the place where I recorded all the big tasks that ‘count’ in academic and professional terms: publications, conferences, professional development, project, awards.

But I now have an ongoing position, and when I sat down for my annual CV update, I had quite a lot of work going through my diaries and emails trying to reconstruct what outputs and milestones I had achieved. I realised that I couldn’t assume that my CV would continue to be a living document.

Additionally, I have a new potential writing project about writing: we imagine it as a record of how we are writing and living for a calendar year. And that requires me to keep some kind of record of how I am actually writing and living! In the past, I have kept home project journals–for gardening, cooking or yoga study. So this is the year to start keeping a writing journal.

I plan to list major writing project milestones. But also to mark what days I engage with the projects in smaller ways, perhaps by sending an email or two, or chatting with a co-author on social media. These small interactions are, I think, the invisible work of ‘bumping along’ a book project–the little, regular nudges that are needed to keep any project bouncing forward.

I’m using a super-cute Midori notebook and a new fountain pen (do whatever works for you to be motivated!). I’m marking days when I work on each project in the little calendar block, and then using the notebook sections to record lists of what I did, anything I achieved, any positive feedback that I’ll want to remember, and anything else about the month that I want to remember. I’m hoping this mix of daily detail and monthly reflection will be sustainable, but also help me to tell the story of the year… if only to myself.

After a year where so many external markers of time were taken away, I am more committed than ever to finding a way to mark and differentiate time, to understand it, to value it, and to share what I find from my experiment. I hope you enjoy coming along for the ride!

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