Monday, August 25, 2008

Welcome to the Working Weeks

"I know it don't thrill you, I hope it won't kill you."
Elvis Costello

I'm taking a work-flow management course tomorrow, which I'm looking forward to. As the semester begins, this is in any case a good time to reflect on how my work week is organized.

There are now 17 weeks until the Christmas break begins. One of those will be devoted to the fall break. As you know, I am a big supporter of knowing what you will be doing when you get up in the morning, five days of those 16 sixteen remaining working weeks.

My plan is similar to what I was doing in the spring. Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, I will blog bewteen 6 am and 7 am. (Tuesdays and Thursdays, I will jog.) Monday's post will be devoted to writing process or scholarship issues. On Wednesday I will normally write about grammar. Friday's post will consist either of a Shadow Stabbing vlog post (the goal is to make 12 before Christmas) or some reflections about the new media.

After blogging or jogging, I will go to the office where I will normally edit someone's work for about three hours. Then I'll eat lunch. The afternoons are devoted to meetings with authors, my writing process reeningeering groups, and writing workshops.

That's pretty much it. I think it's going to be a good semester.


ChrisC said...

Hi Thomas - I'm a longtime reader, struggling like many others with work flow, writing and research management in academia.

A question: do you find that your routine can be *too* organised? Perhaps it's just my ADD tendencies, but I find routines stifling. Complete lack of structure isn't productive either, but I seem to lose motivation if my life is too structured. I end up going through the motions more than anything

Thomas Basbøll said...

Good question. Yes, on May 30, 2008 you might say I felt the effects of too much structure ... or rather, too much arbitrary structure ... too much structure for the sake of structure itself and not for the sake of accomplishing something.

My advice (which is exactly what I failed to heed back in May) is to arrange periods of highly structured, regular work, and periods of "lateral inquiry", where you can let your attention wander a bit.

Remember how the Great Wall of China was built.

A typical year can give to 2 times 17 weeks of intense structure, each containing a one-week break. That leaves 18 weeks. You take at least one more week off for Christmas (or the various equivalents) and do three or four weeks of lateral inquiry. That now leaves 12 weeks, usually in the summer. At least two should be off altogether. And the remainder can be used to wind your research/teaching down before vacation and wind it slowly back up afterwards.

I guess some would take that as a structure too, but it certainly confines the "routine" at tolerable levels.