I mentioned in my previous progress report that I never really wrote down any goals. Writing them down was a good exercise, but clearly some things also went wrong. In this post I talk the most important goal – writing – and what I will do about it in 2018.
My “Submit all the papers” goal was way too abstract. Although I had an idea of how many papers I wanted to submit, and therefore also how often I would need to do that throughout the year, I did not plan how I was REALLY going to do this.
Another thing I realized is that a year is just too long. It is easy to postpone something you haven’t done to later on in the year.
I also did not review the goal often enough, and didn’t have the same kind of accountability I created for myself with my blogging goal. Below I explain how I want to improve these points.
This time I’m going to try something different – the “12 week year”. There is a whole book about it, which I haven’t read (yet?), but there is a lot of information online, such as this post by AsianEfficiency. Basically you set goals per quarter, rather than per year. A quarter is easier to plan, and the review/evaluation is much sooner, which helps to stay motivated.
After examining the commitments I already have, I decided my goal is to submit ONE paper before the end of March. It’s a survey paper of sorts, and I have started on it, but did not get very far. It is a paper that I think I will enjoy writing, and will have some impact. So, there is really no reason to put if off any longer.
Ideally, I would plan out all the sections I need to write and when I will write them via my Todoist/Google Calendar system. But I find it difficult to estimate what sections I need, and how much time each section is going to take. I will go through this planning step, but I will also do something else. I will get into the habit of writing for 1 hour each weekday.
This idea is inspired by this #AcWri challenge by Jo van Every. She talks about 15 minutes a day, but I am reasonably confident I should be able to get an hour in, with the following rules:
- I can split up the hour into blocks of 15 minutes
- I can exchange blocks between days
- There has to be at least 1 block per day
If I aim to write during my morning commute (1 hour train ride) and for at least half an hour when I get to the office, I would even more than the required time in. But since I don’t expect to have this “perfect start” every day, moving the hours around a bit should help.
Review and accountability
I also need to update how often I review my goals. When I wrote about my GTD system, my weekly review was mostly focused on the week ahead. Later I also added a “what did I do this week” note in Evernote, but it was disconnected from my “goals” note.
Now I actually made a table with a row for each week, and two columns: “what did I write” and “what else did I do”. I already prefilled the second column with several commitments I have. This was quite a revelation – I do see why I had a hard time writing last year!
Lastly, I plan to report my progress with the “what did I write” column here on the blog. I want to do this more often than once a quarter. Once a week (together with my weekly review) would be logical, but it seems a bit of a waste of a blog post. So I would either need to add more things to the post, decrease the frequency, or do something else that I haven’t thought of. Please leave a comment if you have ideas!