June Writing Roundup
This Month in Review
June is coming to an end, and in my house, we have been celebrating birthdays and Pride Month! It was my partner’s birthday, PNP’s birthday, and a time to celebrate all things LGBTQIA! What a month it has been! I hope you have all settled into your summer schedules, or lack thereof, and are now enjoying whatever balance of productivity and rest works best for you.
Here are some of my favorite media I’ve consumed over the past month on writing, productivity, and managing all-the-things. Some of this content is new, some of it is old, but all of it has kernels of wisdom for busy academic writers.
1. Here are the Publish Not Perish posts from the past month, in case you missed any:
2. I enjoyed this article about the Swedish word, lagom, which
translates as “just the right amount.” It means knowing when enough is enough, and trying to find balance and moderation rather than constantly grasping for more. Lagom is that feeling of contentment we all get when we have all that we need to make us comfortable. It’s neither a millionaire’s splurge in Vegas, nor a pauper’s cold winter night. It means having a roof over your head, food in your belly, friends at your back, and money — just enough money — in your pockets. If Goldilocks had a catchphrase, it would be “let’s lagom this bear house.”
Although the concept is prevalent in many other cultural contexts, particularly eastern religions, it seems novel in a society that is characterized by capitalistic excess. What if we thought about our teaching, research, and service work through the lens of lagom? Instead of always striving to produce more and more publications each year, what if we reached a point where our output was enough? After all,
Many of us have internalized the ideas that bigger means better… and that excess means happiness. Lagom, though, is to enjoy the “just right.” It’s not simply learning to “enjoy the simple things,” but also appreciating that sometimes less really is more.
3. As I recently mentioned to paid subscribers, I have been loving Dr. Leslie Wang's podcast, Your Words Unleashed, which focuses on writing practices, mindsets, and aca-life management in particular for book writers. Episodes that I enjoyed in particular were How to Know if You’re Burnt Out, A Better Way to Manage Your Time, and The Challenges of Writing a Second Book.
What I like best about the podcast is that she examines not only the structural conditions that create challenges in academia but also individual strategies for coping with these conditions. In her burnt out episode, for example, she discusses how to determine if you are individually burnt out as well as how to determine if you work in an organization that fosters burnout. Understanding how structural conditions affect you as a scholar can be a great starting point for reclaiming some of your time and energy from structures that extract too much from you.
4. PNP had our first discussion thread this month, and it centered around the question, “Is accountability a myth?” but also, “Is accountability discourse patriarchal?”
Most of the thread respondents concluded that accountability is not required for your goals and progress, but it can certainly help. For example, when I am working on solo projects with no external deadlines, I do not have much accountability. However, I’ve struggled with completing one such project this year, and knowing that I was in a pattern of delaying submitting it to a journal, I asked my group of graduate advisees to keep me accountable to a deadline. Having that external pressure to not disappoint them ensured that I met the deadline. In learning theory, we often talk about internal and external motivators. Most people would agree that internal motivation (such as wanting to understand something out of curiosity) can get you further in your learning experiences, but that external motivation (such as grades) can also help.
So, while I provided you with a false choice of a yes/no question, I actually believe that having a combination of accountability to oneself and accountability to others in your writing projects can all be beneficial.
As a group, we are still not convinced that accountability is a patriarchal myth. Women and other minorities are frequently judged as incompetent to complete their work in a male-dominated profession, but accountability appears to be a benefit of belonging to a community rather than a requirement for success.
5. Speaking of accountability! put together an expansive list of online writing group opportunities! While we’ve established that you don’t need a writing group, we also know that writing groups can be incredibly helpful —especially if you don’t have a community of support around you.
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7. What if your email inbox could just chill? Enter the “calm inbox,” described here by Alyssa Austin:
A calm inbox is essentially a system for handling your email inbox where you set predetermined (and well-publicized) response times where colleagues know when you’ll be available.
It takes the pressure off you to feel like you constantly have to be checking your email to stay in the loop on important communication, and sets boundaries with coworkers and colleagues so they know when they can expect a response from you. This in turn allows you to spend your time in a more meaningful, productive way. It’s a win-win-win!
She provides the following example of an email signature with a calm inbox mentality:
Please note that this inbox is a calm inbox and is only checked once in the AM and once in the PM. I will do my best to respond to your message within 24-48 hours unless it’s the weekend, then you can expect to hear from me on Monday.
Austin goes on to say that setting boundaries is an important part of efficiently managing emails. By implementing the calm inbox strategy, you set clear boundaries for yourself and others. People you interact with are aware of when you are available or unavailable. As a result, a delayed response does not indicate ignorance but rather adherence to your calm inbox principles. This method not only relieves the pressure to respond quickly, but it also promotes a sense of calm, control, and organization.
Dr. Stephanie Zihms reflects on her experience with the calm inbox in this post.
8. I was thinking that I should add more content to today’s post, and then I remembered lagom!
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