I block time but other things come up
Is this you?
Anna is familiar with time blocking as a technique for managing her workload. She is a planner. She knows that her calendar is meant to serve her needs rather than just a place to record meetings and other externally scheduled events. She’s been blocking time for writing in her calendar for a while. Unfortunately, stuff keeps coming up. Teaching preparation takes longer than she expected. Or a student has a crisis. She receives a meeting request for the committee she serves on. She’s got a huge pile of student work to grade.
It’s not that Anna thinks writing is less important than those other things. It’s more that it seems less urgent and she’s the only one affected if she doesn’t do it today. Sometimes she tries to move it to another spot in her calendar but sometimes it just gets endlessly deferred. She knows writing is important. She finds it meaningful, and may even be under some pressure to do more of it (or at least to have more to show for it), but she struggles to protect the time she blocks for it.
Obligers need external accountability
Are you familiar with Gretchen Rubin’s work on habits? She has devised a typology of how people respond to expectations: Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, Rebel. If you are really good at meeting obligations to others but struggle to meet obligations to yourself, you are probably an Obliger. There’s a quiz if you want to find out more.
There’s nothing wrong with being an Obliger. You are not broken. You don’t need fixing. You just need to know how to work with this tendency to get the stuff done that you want to do. One of the things that helps Obligers is externalising their commitments to themselves. Joining a running group rather than trying to go running on your own. Taking a yoga class. That kind of thing.
How the Studio helps
A Meeting With Your Writing goes beyond blocking time in your calendar to make at least some of those time blocks an obligation to others. It’s a group that meets virtually to write together. Other people in the group have similar demands to those you are juggling and they are there writing, making it easier for you to relax about prioritising writing. You see familiar faces each week so even though you know they’d understand if you had to miss, you have an extra incentive to make the effort to attend.
We are flexible about how we use Zoom for this meeting. Some people like to stay in the meeting (muted) with others. Others like to leave the meeting after the opening prompts to write on their own and rejoin at the end for the closing prompts. You are welcome to stay and keep your video off, too. Whatever works for you.
I offer 3 sessions a week to increase the chances that one of them will work well with your teaching and other commitments. Most people find that one session a week is all they can fit in. Many participants have told me that coming to A Meeting With Your Writing makes it easier for them to write on other days. There is a recording of the opening and closing bits available for members to download if having my voice in your head helps.
Other ways the Studio can help
I also offer group coaching because I recognise that one way to make more time for writing is to spend less time on other things. The trouble is those other things are also important. You value collective governance and want to make your contribution to the running of the institution. You value teaching and want to do it well. You care about students. And you care about things outside of work and don’t want your work to take over your life.
There are a mix of Quarterly Planning sessions to help you anticipate and plan for the specific challenges of the next 3 months and Office Hours sessions to help you with whatever you are struggling with as you go along. There are also other themed group coaching sessions focused on working effectively on your writing projects.
Still not sure?
If you don’t have a writing practice at all, you might want to start with the 15 minute per day Academic Writing Challenge (free). My book, Finding Time for Your Scholarly Writing will help you figure out how to fit that small practice in with other kinds of writing time.
You are also welcome to book a free consultation to discuss your needs. Or email me using this form.