Thursday, June 05, 2014

Academic Productivity Habits

I really like this blog post by Brandon Valeriano at RelationsInternational, where he links to an 6-point article on productivity making its way through the interwebs and says he would do the opposite of every single point. So would I. I also advised people that the most important rule about blogging is to ignore rules.

1. Manage your mood. Your mood is not just generated automatically. You can try to be positive but you also deal with other people and situations that affect it. If you were up all night with a vomiting child and wonder if the stomach bug will hit you in the middle of class, your mood just won't be chipper.

2. Don't check email in the morning. This doesn't work for me. With a cup of coffee and about 15 minutes, I get my day going productively by dealing with immediate emails. If I don't do that, then there are just more emails to do deal with throughout the day. You have to deal with them at some point and I don't see why afternoon is inherently better. Like everyone else, I like to complain about email but it's just not that big a deal to me.

3. Before you try to do it faster, ask whether or not it should be done. This puzzles me. I cannot remember doing anything I didn't need to. Why would I assign myself meaningless tasks? If someone higher up gives me something to do, then by definition I have to do it.

4. Focus is nothing more than eliminating distractions. This is tautological. If you are focusing then you have eliminated distractions, and vice versa. We all define "distraction" differently. I cannot work in silence, for example, and write well when I can break it up with internet forays.

5. Have a personal system. The way this is described seems rather OCD to me. I work well in the morning, for example, but I don't have a routine and I would find a strict routine oppressive. I know some people literally block off time during the day for certain things, which I would not like.

6. Define your goals the night before. Brandon: "This has to be the absolute worst part of the article.  Defining your goals before sleep sounds like the best way to have nasty dreams, worry all night, and stay up watching Antiques Roadshow (or is that just me?)."  I absolutely turn off work before sleep and normally read something completely unrelated to work.


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