21 dic. 2007

Here's another motivational trick for Thomas Basbo/ll [can't get that slash to pierce the letter o, sorry]

Do things quickly. For example, if I get two articles to review for a journal, I will read them the same day I get them and write up my reports within a day or two. Why? I am likely to be more busy, not less, at any given moment in the future, than I am right now. Waiting for a time when I am less busy is not all that productive. And by doing them now I am making myself less busy in the future too, since part of feeling "too busy" is having a lot of things still to be done. Also, having "more time" to do something is not helpful if it is a routine task that can be done fairly quickly. You are better off if someone gives you less time to do that kind of task, because then you end up having more time--for something you'd rather be doing.

If I am asked to review a scholarly book I don't let any time pass between reading the book and writing the review. I begin to formulate sentences of my review as I read, and then the review is essentially "written" in my head by the time I finish the book. I can write a 600-word book review in less than an hour after finishing the reading.

However, you should never work on a book review or other minor project instead of your main project in your minimum number of minutes of writing per day. Work on your main project first. Then you can do a few other things later on in the day, a letter of recommendation, the review of an article, a blog post... If you wait till your desk is cleared to work on your major project, then you will never work on it.

So to summarize: do minor writing tasks quickly, but not at the expense of the big enchilada.