‘That time of year thou mayst in me behold’
The main topic for the last week has been summer goals. I’ve had some interesting discussions on Twitter with various people.
To summarise the main points:
- What are summer goals? And how do they differ to normal goals?
- How does one get themselves in the frame of mind?
- How do you ‘stick’ to your summer goals?
- How do you divide up the summer period?
Reasons for implementing summer goals
- As this may actually be the final ‘full’ summer of PhD writing (hoping to submit next July), I want to make sure that I extract every last inch of productivity and creative work that I can;
- Hopefully through introducing this concept, this may help other PhD candidates instil a sense of order in potentially wobbly summers;
- To kickstart my own productivity by announcing these goals and setting up the #summergoals hashtag on Twitter. I’m locked in an unbreakable contract now. Have to do it.
What are summer goals?
From ‘when’ to ‘when’?
That’s just my vision. It could also be a desert. [Insert your own metaphor for summer here].
Why differentiate from normal goals?
How to get in the frame of mind: tools and techniques
- A short ‘free-writing’ exercise. This is a technique established by leading authors of ‘PhD self-help’ type books. This is a really effective way of delving into your unconscious and ‘word-vomiting’ what’s on your mind. You can set up a leading sentence, such as ‘The main obstacles to my writing are…..’ or, as I tried, ‘What I’d like to accomplish this summer is…..’. Once you’ve written for between 5 and 7 minutes, sift through your notes and extract the key points.
- Use the information gleaned from free-writing and construct a mind-map. It should still be rough at this stage. Plenty of time for honing ideas and using coherent sentences later!
- Try to evaluate what you’ve done, and set up a reflective tool. What I’m doing is to write a 300-word abstract of the chapter I’m editing before I edit it, identifying what I think the chapter does at present. This was quite tricky in the case of my first chapter, as I hadn’t looked at it for almost two years. Once I’ve finished editing it, I will then write a new abstract for what it now does. As a short reflective exercise, compare these two abstracts, and see how your writing/editing has taken shape and generally firmed up. I’m really looking forward to doing this! This will also help you to stick to your goals. In locating an obvious improvement or an important breakthrough, you will get an immediate confidence boost, which which reaffirm your dedication!
- Stationery! As a self-confessed stationery-addict, it seems only logical that I buy new post-its and notebooks for this task. It also helps with productivity, for some reason. (There’s an anthropological study in there, somewhere…)
- Publicise your goals. Use Twitter or Facebook or a blog to publicly track your progress. In announcing your intended goals and how you work on them helps to cement a sense of purpose. If social media isn’t for you, maybe keep track of your progress in a new notebook. Keeping track is important, as well as staying organised. Of course, I’d love people to use the #summergoals hashtag on Twitter, both to see how my first attempt at establishing an academic hashtag goes, and also to learn about your processes/successes/problems, etc.
These are just some of my musings at present. As noted above, I’ll be tweeting my progress and new thoughts that occur to me throughout the summer. Good luck to everyone working over the summer, and may you all achieve your goals! I hope to hear from people on Twitter :)
*Disclaimer: these are only starting point trains of thought! All feedback and suggestions welcome*
*Major thanks go to the following: @MsFloraPoste; @JoParsons; @AmberRegis; @cemathieson; @EMMAREES. Your feedback was enormously appreciated!!*
(Tweeting at @AnnaFMackenzie: check out #summergoals hashtag)