Time Management Tips for Authors and Researchers

November 20, 2014 Joan Capua

I collaborated with the Wiley Author Team to launch a webinar on November 13, 2014 on time management for authors. As the Manager for Training and Development at Wiley, I was pleased to apply time management techniques to feedback and live questions from authors and researchers. If you missed the webinar, you can listen to the recording for free on the Wiley Author Services Channel.

With participants calling in from 37 countries, we provided an introduction to the latest research on time management, a step-by-step application of a professional time management tool to examples of real author concerns and stressors, a strategy for the best way to trim down the typical researcher “To-Do” list and prevent burn-out, and tips on preventing distraction.

We had a wide range of questions submitted from participants that we did not have time to answer during the session, so as promised, please see below for a sample of these responses.

1.  How can I handle a boss who keeps interrupting my agenda? If your professor/advisor asks you for 5 minutes, you can't really refuse that request, right?

Right! There are of course some people that you can’t and shouldn’t turn away. Try to think of it as giving five minutes to interact with someone with whom you are looking to build a long-term and valuable relationship. But if you find that this kind of interaction keeps occurring and is truly impacting your productivity, you have a few options: If your boss is asking you questions about projects and other items that are related to your workday, you can use this as an opportunity to discuss a common framework that will get you both approaching your workload the same way. But if your boss is actually distracting you on a regular basis to talk about the weather or a football game, consider that this might be their way of connecting with you. To diplomatically turn things back toward immediate productivity, you might try mentioning a key deadline that you are working toward for them and then schedule time LATER to stop in and have a discussion about that football game.

2.  What do I do when I have 10 minutes scheduled for one task but due to an emergency, this time is now 15 or 20 minutes, changing the rest of the day? (Related: How do you identify what a “crisis” is?)

That is why we advocate building in a “time cushion” of up to 25% of your day - so that you are able to handle true emergencies or crises. But do try to step back and reflect on whether something that’s come up is definitely an emergency and requires your immediate attention. If you find yourself having “emergencies” every day, then - unless you’re a doctor or nurse - you might need to consider either re-categorizing what an “emergency” is and how you react to it or else consider adding even more cushion time into your schedule. Whenever possible, try to step back and see if there are steps you can take to prevent things from becoming emergencies in the first place. This isn’t always possible but it’s worth a shot. Emergencies cause the most stress and really can completely disrupt our plans if we don’t figure out a way to get control.

3.  I would have more time if I just stopped sleeping – ha ha. What is the latest research on the impact of sleep loss on productivity and are there ways people can sleep more efficiently?

We do need our sleep! There is a lot of science out there about how critical sleep is to being productive. Here is an article on “The Science of Sleep” that contains some of the most useful information I’ve found that ties in closely with time management.

4.  Do you have any recommendations for resources on how to cut time off meetings? Like “How to Make an Agenda for Dummies” or websites on meeting preparation?

We do have a Running Great Meetings and Workshops For Dummies book as well as Successful Time Management For Dummies, and the more specific Time Management for Department Chairs. And here’s a blog post on “Conducting Effective Business Meetings” on the Dummies blog, as well as a post on “10 Tips for Effective Meetings.”

5.  Is it possible to get the presentation/slides so I can formulate questions later on? I am not prepared to fully concentrate on this presentation right now.

Yes of course! Please refer to the Wiley Author Services Channel for a recording of the full webinar, including slides, and please do enter any questions in the “Comments” section below this post and I’ll respond.

6.  Pressure to publish articles from my department sometimes makes me push back by not doing what I need to do for an article. I recognize that this is an emotional reaction and likely at my own expense. Is there a way to block off that external pressure in my mind so I can focus?

Yes, there is an element of emotion and pressure that can impact attention and effectiveness. So what you want to do is determine which articles you can handle, present those to your department or to the person who is actually doing the pushing, and discuss and agree on some realistic deadlines with them so that you can achieve them without being overly stressed. Simply communicating often leads to the easing of emotional pressure on both sides.

Read the full list of questions and answers from this session here

Thanks again to everyone who called in and especially to those who submitted questions. You can listen to the recording on the Wiley Author Services Channel and don't forget to leave any additional questions in the comments section below!

About the Author

Training and Development Manager, Wiley // Joan Capua has 20 years' experience as a professional development coach. She has consulted on time management, among other core communication and sales practices, at leading advertising, finance, publishing and software firms, as well as the NY Science and Business Library and universities. Joan has contributed to the Wall St. Journal and serves as a subject matter expert for the Association of Talent Development in NY.

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