Saturday, February 10, 2018

Me and my (shadow) notebook

We're getting good at keeping track of time, my little black notebook and I. 
  • Yes, it took me 7 hours to do that administrative task. It takes what it takes, but the thing is, I can't feel despairing because I wasted the day. It's not wasted. It has to be done. My notebook tells me how I spent that day when I'm beating myself up mentally about not writing more.
  • Receiving a long, detailed, multi-part email about non-urgent minutiae? How long will it take to read and respond? My notebook tells me. It's a number, that, anonymized, averages out to  "too long." Bottom of the reply list for it.
  • I send an email that doesn't receive a response but receive more non-urgent minutia-driven emails. Do I hasten to reply? I see from my notebook that this was discussed already with the person sending the email. I let the email sit for a while.
  • Meeting that's supposed to take two hours and we're only 2/3 of the way through the agenda? Unless the president or provost has convened it, I'm leaving at the end of two hours. This is the 70% rule that xykademiqz and gwinne have talked about.
  • Document, document, document those progressive emails.
    • X writes to say "I need you to break this rule for me" sent to someone not me. I reply to the person who forwarded it saying when X contacts me, I'll respond.
    • X writes to someone not me to say, "hey, could you get on this right now? Time's a-wastin' here!" Same answer. When X contacts me, though, I'm ready with a reply.
  •  The To Do List is in the little black notebook as well as in the spreadsheet. It's more satisfying to cross things off in pen than in a spreadsheet.
  • The spreadsheet only tells me when I didn't meet a goal (as in Paul Silva's How to Write a Lot) or how many words I wrote. The notebook tells me that I didn't get home until 9:15 p.m., which puts a little different spin on what looks like a wasted writing day though it was a useful campus one.
  • Because it also holds some drafts and bibliographies all in one place, I can tell when I've added something to a main document: the transferred material has a line through it.
  • In the notebook, I can trick myself into writing with pen and paper sometimes when the computer holds too many other distractions (grading, etc.), as Dame Eleanor talks about. 
  • And every day when writing happens, there's the number of words, circled, at the top of the page. Pasting or stamping gold stars to the page might be a step too far, but I don't need them anyway. The circled numbers are enough.

4 comments:

gwinne said...

This made me all kinds of happy.

I'd love to hear more about what you're recording in this notebook. I should also pay more attention to time devoted to different sorts of emails...

I need to come up with about five hours to finish grading a stack of papers...before noon on Monday. Not too likely at this point.

JaneB said...

My written big group has weekly stickers. My little black diary (where I time track) definitely benefits from weeklyvstickers!

JaneB said...

My REAL LIFE WRITING GROUP - dear heavens my phone autocorrect....

Undine said...

gwinne, I used to keep a separate time and tasks notebook on a steno pad and "save" the black notebook for writing, but that moment of anxiety about sullying the black notebook with anything other than Real Writing meant that it didn't get much use. Now everything goes in the black notebook--time spent doing things, writing, lists, ideas, drafts of bibliographies, etc. The only downside--or is it a downside?--is that I feel as though I can't work without logging it in the book. I guess that isn't a downside.

JaneB, the stickers sound wonderful! If I had an in-person writing group, I might try those.