I work alone on my own schedule. Although there are many perks to working alone, I found out very quickly that finding the personal motivation to put in eight hours of work a day can be difficult. It is very easy to become distracted, and with doctoral work, you must set aside time to write, read, and think.
Fortunately, a number of my classmates and friends have developed systems for keeping each other accountable and motivated. For me, I rely a lot on writing sprints to get me by. A writing sprint is a designated amount of time (usually 25 minutes to an hour) where you work, nonstop, without any distractions. I do several of these every day!
In future articles, I will share some of my strategies for eliminating distractions during my sprints. For now, let me explain how my sprints work:
- I start a sprint by sending an email blast to people on my email list who have said they would like to sprint with me within the next few minutes. If anyone is interested, they email me back – usually with goals, and perhaps a time they would like to start.
- We agree to an end time (usually a half hour), and sometimes share our goals.
- At the start of the sprint, I turn on my Pomodoro timer to keep track of my time and my goals. My web blocker goes on, my document is up, and I commit to sitting in my seat for that full 25 minutes of productivity.
- At the end, I send an email to my sprint buddies, to check-in. This is a great time to be honest with each other (yes, sometimes we end up in the kitchen mopping the floor, without any recollection of how we got there), but to also offer some motivation and support, too.
- If everyone is for it, you start the next sprint and so on.
Because of summertime schedules and varying goals, there are some days when I may have three sprint partners, and other days where I may end up sprinting alone. I stumbled across an article by Story a Day, which outlines how to host a Twitter-based sprint with anyone using #writingsprint as the hashtag. The article had a lot of good ideas, which I will be trying.
Are you interested in sprinting with me? I’ll be posting #writingsprint hashtags on my Twitter when I’m working. Hope you will join me!
#acwri – hashtag for all you academic writers out there!
Happy Writing and Researching!