Thursday, September 19, 2013

Finding Time To Write At A Teaching-Focused Institution

I've often wondered about this issue -- how do faculty at teaching-focused institutions find the time to write? While many teaching-focused institutions do not place an emphasis on scholarship, some faculty still feel the pull to write. While I am not faculty (some law librarian positions are tenured faculty, others are not), I also feel the pull to add to the discussion of my profession. It can be a struggle to find time amid a busy teaching (including library sessions or reference) schedule, but one professor recently expounded on how he does it.

"Although it’s true that I may have more regular, day-to-day responsibilities that limit the time I can spend on research than those in more research-intensive positions, I’ve found ways to keep up a meaningful research and publishing program. Given my teaching schedule and other responsibilities, it’s rare for me to have huge chunks of uninterrupted time that can be used for research and writing. My free time during a normal day is usually composed of numerous, sometimes sporadic chunks of 15 to 30 minutes, 45 if I’m lucky. Rather than viewing this time as downtime, I try to make the most of it, using it as efficiently as possible. When all is said and done, that time can easily add up to a couple of hours of solid work, depending on the day."

This is a good point. Sometimes when I only have 15 minutes of downtime, I might take a mental break and read an article for professional development purposes. But I could easily use this time to write a few words.

The professor went on to say, "I also try to set small, achievable goals for each day. My current goal is to write 500 words a day, no matter what. If I do that five days a week, that’s 2,500 words a week."

It can be a huge adjustments to work in short spurts of time, but the words do add up -- sometimes to a full working article. As the professor noted, not all of his writing is useful, and he might scrap entire portions, but I am sure he still feels a sense of accomplishment when he meets his daily goal.

"It is possible, then, to do real, meaningful scholarship in a teaching-intensive environment and, more importantly, to sustain and enjoy it."

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