Monday, February 11, 2013

A question of focus

This week, I will post three short pieces on the notion of focus. To jump into it: should you work on one article at a time? Should you work on one section at a time? These are important questions to consider, and in truth, the answer will usually be “it depends” and “everyone is different.” While there are often personal and idiosyncratic ways to approach these and other questions of focus, this does not mean that we do not have some guidance for you Here, I present several principles  that can guide you as you explore your your working style regarding.

Complete one or work on several?

You will need to decide whether or not to focus on one article at a time, or allow yourself to work on more than one article (or more than one section of an article at a time). People who need structure, a high level of organization, or a sense of completion would be well served to focus on one section and one article at a time. Those who enjoy working more fluidly may find that they are more productive if they focus on more than one section or more than one article at a time. We suggest that you experiment with both styles of working, and decide which is best for you. In general, I believe that it is a good idea to have one article as your primary focus, but to allow yourself some flexibility.

On Wednesday, I will explore the rationale for this guidance.


  1. I think it depends on the nature of the task (e.g., analysis vs writing or editing) and whether you are working on your own or as co-authoring. If I am co-authoring 2 or 3 things, I will work on several pieces at the same time, so that I can send things back and forth to my co-authors, and keep various things moving. However, if I am working on my own, I find it better to focus on each individual piece at one time.

  2. Thanks for your response. A thought for you; if you work on google site with your colleagues, you NEVER have to send things back and forth, and save a great deal of time, and never have to wait for others in order to continue with your work. See my past post on the topic- it has changed the way I work.



  3. When I have large chunks of time, I work on three or even four projects, and spend between 45 min-2 h on each. I usually get stuck or little productive after this time, and this is when I move to another project; I know from experience that if I worked longer on that piece, I would get more and more frustrated. Working on another project, however, somehow reactivates my energy.
    The funny thing is that I do need sense of completion, but since I started measuring time I spend working on projects and writing it down in a journal, I found out that it does the trick: my inner supervisor is satisfied with progress done even if I leave in the middle of a messy paragraph.