Writing when there is too much going on

April just flew by! Well, at least for me. What about you?


LUISSFor me, April was marked by assignment marking, group presentations and visiting LUISS in Rome, as part of their internationalisation programme. The LUISS visit was very energising and gave me lots of food for thought research-wise, even if I did not get any writing done.


But this month will be different!


This month will still be busy. Very busy. But I will go back to my 2 tricks to keep AcWri projects moving when there is too much going on.


[The post below first appeared on the blog Shelf Wisdom]


When life gets a bit too intense, it is really hard to find the practical and mental space to write. Not only there is very little time to write, but when I do sit down my mind wanders off to all the things on my to do list. It feels like a no-win situation: if I don’t write, I resent whatever else is keeping me from writing; but if I do, I feel very anxious about all the other things that need my attention. So, I found a compromise.

When I am overwhelmed with demands on my time (er… like now!) I manage to stay focused on writing with the following two tips:

1. I give myself a limit of 25 minutes writing time. It doesn’t matter how busy or tired I am, I can always carve 25 minutes out of my day for writing. This ensures that the project stays fresh in my mind and is progressing, even if very slowly. Not only that, but I will stop writing when the time comes to an end, no matter what. This may seem counter-productive, but it has the advantage of forcing me to focus on the task at hand because I know that I can only afford a few minutes and because I know that I will get back to the other tasks in less than 30 minutes.

2. I do something that is not writing, but that is related to writing. If I am really struggling with a concept or explaining a point in the paper because, for instance, I am too tired or too preoccupied with something else, then I will work on a task that does not require concentration but that still helps the writing project progress. For instance, I may format the document according to the requirements of the journal I am going to submit it to, or create a figure or table to display some findings, or check my references… you get the idea.


What are your tips to stay productive during very busy times?

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