Blog

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!

SHARE

Succeeding in a Research Higher Degree

Doing a Research Higher Degree (like a PhD) is hard, but lots of people have succeeded and you can too. It’s easier if you understand how it works, this blog gives you the insider view.

Contact

Related Posts

Between the paragraph and the word is the ‘line edit’

There is another intermediate stage of editing, which is typically called ‘line edits’ in creative writing. This is the edit that is all about style and grace, about flow, about clarity and voice. In other words, this the edit that is absolutely not essential and many academic writers don’t bother with it. It’s a ‘nice to have’, a cherry on the cake, which is why I haven’t written about it before.

Read More

Getting back into the swing of this

The book is now in with the series editor and going out to reviewers (2 weeks late, but also 2 weeks before the deadline I had written on my otherwise trusty whiteboard… a story for a later post!!). So in this little writing block I had in my day—too small for getting back into another big project—I thought I’d warm up the blog machine.

Read More

Five finger exercises for academic writing

If you have ever learned the piano, you may have had to do ‘five finger exercises’—little pieces that are less about their musical value, and more about making you use all five fingers on your hands, to improve your technique. They are warm-ups, strengthening and skill-building exercises. They are part of the invisible part of performing music—I have never seen a concert performance of these exercises, but I’m also certain that every concert pianist I have ever paid to listen to, has done hours and hours of them in their time.

Read More

Get the latest blog posts