January 1st: Goals and Tasks

Happy New Year!

This is it, the official beginning of my book-writing endeavor. Today is my last day of Winter Break –my young son’s preschool opens tomorrow, which means I can get back to the office for an admittedly short workweek.

I am the kind of person that needs plans –usally a plan A, B, and C. Things often don’t go according to plan, and I like to think I’m flexible enough to adapt to changing circumstances, but having a plan of action in place –a set of immediate tasks that eventually takes me to my goal– worked when I was writing my dissertation, and has continued to work as I have written and submitted articles. A caveat, of course, is that now I have many more things on my plate than I did back when I was writing my dissertation –teaching, advising, grant-writing, and other professional responsibilities take time. One thing I have to reconcile myself with is that I need to start my day earlier and end it later. I’m trying to be realistic, and simply add one hour to my day at the beginning, and a half hour to the day at the end (so that I leave work at 5:15 rather than 4:45). It will take some adjustment in terms of home life, especially cooking for my family, which I do, but I need to take advantage of all the time I have to work if I am going to succeed.

The first chapter in Belcher’s book deals precisely with creating a plan of action for writing. Designing a writing schedule is central to this plan, and so I am attempting to balance the relatively unpredictability of my schedule with a regular routine I can stick to. Belcher has these awesome worksheets you can download to help you do this, but (for now), I need more flexibility. Maybe, once the semester starts and I get a better sense of my time, I will actually go all out and schedule every hour of my day. For now, this is what I have:

Daily Tasks


8:00-9:00 am SwimWriteCode/transcribeLast-minute course preps
Tuesday WriteOH 1-3Class 3-4:50
Wednesday 8:00-9:00 am SwimWrite (grant-writing & PD)At least 15 minutes on the book.Log in to online class
Thursday WriteOH 2-3Log in to online classAdvising activity
Friday 8:00-9:00 am SwimWriteLog in to online class

As you can see, the only thing I have scheduled is my morning swim, my regularly scheduled office hours, and my class times. The rest are tasks I want to complete during a given day. Reserving one day for grant-writing worked last semester and helped me get a draft going, so I’m going to keep that custom and devote one day grant-writing and similar activities, while making a commitment to spend at least 15 minutes on the book in order to keep it “fresh.” Next week, when classes start and I actually have to work on each of these tasks in a given day, I will have a better idea of how much time to allot to each task.

Aside from these daily tasks, I have also come up with a list of weekly tasks to complete in order to reach my monthly goals.

By the end January,

  • I would like to have a clear vision of the book, its argument, style, and length (still working on figuring out the other 11 monthly goals).
  • I would like to have a chapter well on its way to completion.
  • I also need to submit another article for publication by the end of the month, using discourse analysis to examine police reports of suicides in a town in Yucatan, contrasted to observations made during a “ride along” I participated in of a suicide crime scene investigation.

In order to reach these goals, I need to complete the following tasks this week:

Week of 1/2-1/4

Book Manuscript Other Writing Project (discourse analysis article)
  • Decide prospective length and number of chapters for the manuscript.
  • Write a book abstract (to better elucidate the argument that brings the book together).
  • Review dissertation and determine if any of it can be used in the book.
  • Review old field notes, determine if any additional transcribing or re-coding needs to be done.
  • Review most recent data and come up with a plan of action regarding coding and transcribing.


  • Set deadline for submission.
  • Finish re-coding
  • Develop new analytical framework (discourse analysis).
  • Write argument, re-write existing text.
  • Make a list of prospective journals for submission.


I’m not sure how frequently I’m going to be posting, though I am planning on blogging regularly. I don’t want writing the blog to supersede writing the actual book, so somewhere in this list of tasks, I’m going to have to schedule time to blog and stick to it (maybe once or twice a week?). I’m also starting my reduced facebook time tomorrow. I’m curious to see what it will do for my productivity.

Here is to a happy and productive New Year!


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