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Weeks 4 & 5: Prioritising writing & other things 'getting in the way'

The fact that this blog is a week overdue hints at my goal to write 2 hours daily has not been happening. Nonetheless I have written a little about the last two weeks, reflecting on other things 'getting in the way'.  

Week 4

A big part of going on holiday was a desire to have a week away from checking emails and yet it was difficult to stop myself from clicking on my Outlook app. Luckily I was in another country and in the mountains so I did not have access to the internet very often. Despite this, the temptation of checking email then few hours that I had with wifi was hard to suppress and I eventually deleted my Outlook app. My first day back it only took me about an hour to read through my entire inbox, not necessarily respond to everything, and I was so glad that I not read any emails in that time because undoubtedly I would have been thinking about my responses quite a bit.

I planned to add my Outlook app back upon returning to work, but then spoke to a friend that was quite surprised that I had had work email on my phone in the first place. Oddly enough I had not considered the idea of separating my mobile from work before. Yet since this first conversation I have been asking more of my colleagues about their phone/work email practices and found many others adamant about keeping work out of your personal life/mobile. I know that many of the academics that I look up to have work email on their phones and it is perhaps their quick responses are something that I appreciate and admire in colleagues. However, I have enjoyed getting away from email (and thus work) when I am not at my computer/office. That was my main reflection from this week, how good it is to 'get away' simply by not being able to check email and all the thoughts/stresses/commitments that comes with. I think it helped me stay focused on my own research and writing this week too.

Following on from this, I would be curious to hear from others their thoughts on phone/work emails. I thought I may have to add it back because of convenience when meeting people (i.e. if someone is running late and sends a quick email), or travelling (i.e. my train booking is on my work email), or 'taking advantage' of down time (i.e. 'I'll just quickly do some emails while I wait in this queue). So far though, the benefits of a break from thinking about work has outweighed these advantages. Besides the fact that my phone seems quite boring now as there are far fewer things for me to respond to on it!

Week 5

This week I was at a conference. I seem to have a notion that at previous conferences I have often skipped a session or two a day in order to keep writing, respond to emails, and get a break in order to enjoy the presentations/breaks that I do go along to. The last conference I attended, I also went to and ECR session stressing the goal of writing at least 30 minutes a day, conferences being no exception.

I am starting to think that I do not actually do this.

I am also starting to wonder if many academics do this!

While I did spend the majority (i.e. well over 2 hours) of Monday and Tuesday writing, it was hard to find time and focus the rest of the week. Catching up with friends/colleagues, chatting to my PhD students, attending sessions and meeting new people, keeping up with emails, planning/practising my presentation, exercise/eating/ free wine all 'got in the way' of writing. I did try a few times to work on my paper and in hindsight I worry that I should have taken more advantage of so many scholars in one place. For example, because I was writing I did not go to any of the plenaries as I didn't think they were as relevant to my research - which feels like shame now. My favourite part of conferences is the conversations in between sessions and at the end of the day - it is just nice to speak to others who can relate to the academic life and/or your research area - and I definitely felt I learned a great deal from this aspect of the conference.


Nevertheless, I am wondering how others manage to also fit in writing to a conference (if I do not count writing my presentation) or if they decide it is better to be 'present' at the conference. Is continuing academic writing part of the 'doing' of academic conferences? 

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