Tag Archives: productivity

January 17, 2013, 3:23 pm

Let’s skip the small talk

I don’t understand why some people have such a strong resistance to using email to communicate at work. I frequently hear and read that “email is a distraction” and “it’s so much better to communicate face-to-face.” Well, I don’t know about you, but I can deal with most emails in two minutes or less, and I can do it when I want to. It’s a lot harder to get rid of most people who pop into my office in less than two minutes.

Especially when they want to chat.

I am not a small-talk kind of person. I’m not very good at it, and I don’t enjoy it. I’ll do it when it is socially required, and I always try to be friendly, but in general I try to avoid it. I especially hate it at work. I strive to be efficient and productive from nine to five so that I don’t have to work more than forty hours a week. I prefer just to get down to business in a meeting or when I have a work request for someone…

Read More

April 23, 2012, 12:43 pm

Monitoring Productivity Increases Productivity

Coffee helps too. Photo by Flickr user interpunct.

Recently, I read Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength, by Roy Baumeister and John Tierney, which I found to be a very enjoyable read. One of the things that resonated with me was the fact that in many experiments when they asked subjects to monitor their own behavior (such as eating or studying habits), that behavior improved. I’ve found this to be true for myself too. I used to keep a spreadsheet where I recorded my daily word count, and what papers I read. But at some point I got tired of keeping up with the spreadsheet and abandoned it entirely—and my writing and scholarly reading went down, too.

The book mentioned a program called RescueTime that will monitor how you spend your time on your computer automatically. You spend a…

Read More

October 18, 2011, 12:53 pm

The pain of revising manuscripts

Kitten sleeping by a laptop

A well-deserved rest after submitting a manuscript.

My favorite moment of research is right after I hit the “submit” button on a journal’s article submission website. I can breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that I don’t have to worry about that project for a few weeks or months. I move the folder with all of the paper’s files out of my “active research” folder on my computer and into my “in review” folder. I can take the whole category off of my to-do list. Sure, having a paper accepted is a lovely moment too, but for some reason that first moment after submission is extra-special to me.

But the manuscripts always come back to you, which is my least favorite moment in research. Whenever I see that email in my inbox with the words “Decision on manuscript…” in the title, my chest…

Read More

October 4, 2011, 11:55 am


In the Chronicle yesterday, there was a nice piece about “procrastination productivity” that several of my friends posted to Facebook – about all the things you get done because they are a distraction from the real things you have to get done, and while they make you look like you are being productive, you know the truth.

Gray cat sleeping on open laptop computerI am very familiar with that tactic, but I have another one that’s even worse. Fake productivity, or “fauxductivity” as I like to think of it, is where you surround yourself with accoutrements of productivity and busyness so not only does it look like you are busy and important but you are hoping to trick your brain into acknowledging the need to get work done and then spend extra time doing it.

I am in a very importantly busy stage at work right now, and I have given in to my favorite fauxductivity trick (well, it’s less of a trick and more of an affectation): I…

Read More

August 5, 2011, 8:44 am

I'm back!

My Epic Summer of Epicness (and Epic Exhaustion) is pretty much over now – and not a moment too soon. I am tired, people. I spent a month in the field, which was great and all, but tiring, then drove back across the country, went to work for four days, then flew to another place for a friend’s wedding, came home for less than 24 hours – 4 of which I spent at work – and then drove five hours away for a big conference. All of this was wonderful and time well spent, but there wasn’t much time for sleep in there.

Now my life is somewhat normal again, although still very busy. Next week is our center’s annual conference, so it’s a bit crazy around here as we try to get it all organized.

Some updates on my productivity:

  • of the three papers that were in review already, one was accepted (which I already wrote about), one was favorably reviewed but rejected as not being right for the journal,…

Read More

April 29, 2011, 2:45 pm

Being responsible is exhausting

I’ve been absurdly productive for the entire month of April. I have:

  • Revised and resubmitted.
  • Submitted this stupid manuscript to its fourth journal (yep, it got rejected from that submission back in October)
  • Gotten juuuuuuust about ready to submit my research week paper, pending final approval from co-authors.
  • Given a presentation on a fourth project that is finally moving along well.
  • Reviewed three papers.
  • Gotten a blog for the research center up and running – and it’s lovely!
  • Read and taken notes on one published paper a day, every workday
  • Written up my goals and very detailed plans for summer fieldwork

Aaaaand…. I have now hit a wall. For the last two or three days, I have been pretty much braindead and exhausted. My grand accomplishments lately have been the following:

  • ordered a wedding present for a friend
  • printed out directions to a nearby state park, and the trail …

Read More

February 2, 2011, 9:48 am

Snow Day Ramblings

Ah… I’m snowed in at home, the power is still on, and the university announced yesterday that it would be closed today. What a perfect cozy day, the kind I always dream about. Of course, now that I am faced with this amazing opportunity for productivity and focusing on my own research, the only thing I want to do is snuggle under the blankets on the couch and watch movies all day. (“Groundhog Day” is high on the list, as is “Hot Tub Time Machine”…)

But I must resist this urge and Be! Productive!  I have some Center-related work to get done that will, honestly, probably take me less than an hour but will seriously impress the Powers That Be. I have lots and lots of my own research to work on. In particular, I have not even touched the rejected manuscript, or the manuscript that my co-authors finally sent comments on. Both of those are going to require a lot of work and I…

Read More

November 29, 2010, 3:58 pm

Paper finished!

Woo hoo, I did it!! I just sent my manuscript off to my co-authors. I am so freaking excited that I wrote this whole thing in just under one month. I kind of can’t wait to get started on the next one.

Even more exciting, I managed to do this during a really stressful time. We have a major annual deadline this week – and the report that is due on that deadline is primarily my responsibility. That report is now pretty much finished (Hmm, I wonder if I should add it to my November word count? That’s another ~30,000 words), and I submit it on Wednesday. THEN on Thursday I am giving an hour-long seminar on my research to a rather large group of people. I also reviewed 10 grant proposals for a private foundation and reviewed one or two manuscripts for journals, interviewed candidates for an administrative position, traveled to a workshop, and traveled for a family Thankgiving, all in the…

Read More