Coaching notes from Sally: outlining is writing, the priority principle, Turning Things In Already (they don’t need to be perfect)

January 25, 2013 – 9:14 am

More notes from Sally Schmall, my (awesome!) academic career coach. I’m still working on getting my weekly rhythm down (easier said than done for distractomel) but it’s settling into niceness; this week’s job is to come up with a revised weekly calendar based on my (not particularly successful) attempts to stick to what I thought would be my weekly calendar the past two weeks, a task whose impossibility soon became obvious.

Other insights from Sally:

Outlining is writing. Structuring is writing. Doing research and formatting citations is writing. There’s a lot more to writing than “look I have produced new text!” and having my information organized well can help me get into a good flow state (just like warming up and having the right props/equipment helps you play sports better).

My ADHD brain likes immediate feedback. Working in small chunks of time (even 5, 10, or 15 minute sprints) is a way to give it that sort of feedback without relying on someone else — short bursts of time and tightly defined tasks… ooh, shiny, done!

Boice’s “Priority Principle” — if you write every day for a small amount of time, your writing stays at the top of your head. So true. I have such a tiny amount of mental RAM that I do need to do my important things every day to keep them intellectually afloat.

I have a habit of perfectionism and spending way too much time on an assignment because I passed the “good enough to ship!” point long ago and veered off into the unreachable territory of “good enough to be ABSOLUTELY PERFECT!” Therefore, some questions to ask myself to manage time:

  1. Have I already met the requirements?
  2. Is this critical to work on at this time?

If the answers are yes, it is time to let it go. Turn it in. Shift gears. (This particular lesson has been a huge one for me this week; it’s hard to practice, but I can see the value in it, and am much happier with how I spend my time when I adhere to it.)

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  1. 2 Responses to “Coaching notes from Sally: outlining is writing, the priority principle, Turning Things In Already (they don’t need to be perfect)”

  2. Things I am also trying to work on – getting out papers and things. Yes, I will keep learning and yes, six months from now I could probably write it better, but six months from now I should be writing the next thing better.

    By Ana on Jan 25, 2013

  3. If it’s time to turn it in and shift gears, shouldn’t the answer to number 2 be ‘no?’ I think I see what you’re getting at though, perhaps I’m being pedantic.

    By Grant on Jan 26, 2013

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