Mr Zero's back with some thoughts on work habits, echoing, if memory serves, some of Second Suitor's thoughts at the previous venture (too lazy to look). --STBJD
So, there's been a bunch of discussion (here and here) about the work habits of philosophers. This discussion is of particular interest to senior grad students, who are balancing teaching duties with dissertating, and VAPs and junior TT people, who are balancing teaching way more than they did in grad school with writing quality articles for publication so they can stop getting their asses handed to them on the job market or get tenure or something. It's serious business.
I am notorious for my time-management problems, but I seem to have constructed a way of striking the balance that works well for me. For starters, I get my teaching out of the way early. I find that it's bad to try to write before I teach for two reasons. One, I find it hard to concentrate when the specter of public speaking looms in the immediate future. Two, I might nevertheless manage to get into the zone, space out, and work straight through class.
Once I'm done teaching, I need some wind-down time, so I eat lunch, read the blogs, and fart around. This takes about an hour. Then I write until dinner time. Somewhere (I forget where; might have been PEA soup or something) I read about a couple of motivational strategies that have been helpful. The first comes from Jerry Seinfeld, who recommends getting a big calendar that has a full year on one page. You write a red 'X' over a day in which you write. Pretty soon, you get a chain of 'X's going. Your job is, don't break the chain. Write at least a little every day, and your project will get done.
The second comes from Isaac Asimov, I think. It's called the Martini Method: If you write a thousand words, you get to have a martini. If not, not. For some reason, and I hesitate to speculate about why, this seems to work really well for me. I don't think the "thousand words" thing to be immutable or anything--it's especially poor for representing work done during the editing and revising process, and I sometimes find I've worked all day on formulating some argument or principle in just the right way, so it does exactly what it's supposed to, but maybe having less than100 words to show for it. I do enough work to feel as though I've accomplished something, and then at around dinner time I knock off and have a martini. A martini seems special, somehow.
I almost never do any work in the evenings. After dinner I try to relax, decompress, and get ready for tomorrow. Sometimes I've got something I have to do, but I try to treat it in a 9-to-5 kind of way. One of the perks of this job, of course, is that it's not a 9-to-5 gig, but if I don't treat it like one, I never get anything done.
What do you do? Any tips, strategies, etc?