Original Article #2:
Fight Writing Woes by Investing in Good Habits
By Kristen Wortman, PhD
Can you relate to this thought process? “I am excited to be working in my field. I often work late. I have a hard time saying no. I am so busy that I often have to work right until the deadline because I have too much going on.” You probably also would like to work less and feel a little more confident, but do not know when you will have time to work on that. Reading this article is a great start. Way to go you!
Invest in your wellbeing and you will be rewarded with less stress, increased productivity and confidence. As a psychologist I have found throughout my training that supervisors and professors would often lament their inability to perform self-care while advocating we handle our own. So, what to do?
Science has shown that multitasking impairs performance, unfortunately you are no exception. You have been shooting yourself in the foot a bit. As much as you think you are getting things done, you are performing at a worse level than if you would schedule out your time. But why do so many people do it? My conjecture is that it is somewhat culture, and somewhat laziness. It takes effort to maintain boundaries and can feel uncomfortable at times to state that you have needs. You deserve to feel good about your work! Keep investing in yourself.
Break from old habits, and let go of faulty logic that blocks progress, leaving room for new habits. There is no need to do this all on your own, there are plenty of self-care models that will leave you feeling less stressed and more in control of your work. Two resources that provide solid models are Paul Silva’s How to Write A Lot, and Joseph Ferrari’s Still Procrastinating. While you may not identify with either of these as problems, these are great resources for how to organize your time and work smarter, not harder.
You can produce a lot more, with a lot less energy through structure and habit. Silva’s book has practical advice for building good writing habits such as tracking your progress, scheduling writing time, and maintaining accountability through social support. Ferrari’s text is chock full of research that address common misconceptions about productivity. As a scientist, I find it difficult to continue down my path of misconception when I have data that tells me otherwise. I can hear your excuses rising, you do not have time to read books or schedule time to write. Time management is a key problem for most writers and procrastinators. Both authors give the audience a lot of tools to manage time, and maintain firm boundaries. Change has to start somewhere, why not with this article?
To me, the best part of these books are how the authors address faulty logic and excuses. In my academic career, I developed a narrative that I was a flawed writer and I just could not be helped. This led me to perform badly, not take pride in my work, and continued to reinforce my writing inferiority complex. I am still developing as a writer, but I feel empowered by accomplishments I have made over the years. By assessing my weaknesses, meeting goals, and recognizing my own progress I see a future that is full of hope, not dread. You deserve to feel empowered and hopeful about your work, I encourage you to lighten the load and pick up one of these books.