My writing routine is #BetterThanBefore

I recently finished listening to Gretceh Rubin’s book Better than before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives. It was great because I understood my own habits much better after the book. Refreshing! Rubin uses many fun categories for readers (listneres) to reflect their own ways of organising their lives.

I wasn’t reading it for any particluar purpose but after a while I was encouraged to rethink my writing habits. After an intensive 2016, which was mainly about delivering against deadlines, early 2017 has been about transforming my writing habist from goal orientation to time orientation. That has not been easy since I had gotten used to writing because I had a deadline. Therefore, developing a habit of writing because it was time for it (i.e. developing ideas) seemed difficult.

Out of curiosity I decided try follow one of the examples she gave for larks, i.e. people who are at their best in the mornings.

Start immediately after you wake up.

Before I had started my writing sessions after morning streches, breakfast, and orienting for the day’s tasks. As a contrast, the new style meant starting immediately after waking up and moving on to other tasks after an hour or so. My only edition was to have something to eat while writing because everyone close to me knows what happens if I delay the first meal of the day. You do not want to be around for that event.

After a week I can happily conclude that my new habit of 60 minutes of early morning writing seems to work GREAT. It pairs up with a to do list for writing that sets up my priorities per each day & week.

Before finishing each day, I decide what I write after I wake up.

The to do list has two columns per day: (1) early morning writing goals (60 mins) and (2) before lunch writing goals (60-90 mins). In the worst case scenario, I will have to skip the second writing session because of teaching/meetings/fieldwork – but NEVER the first one. So I get writing time every week day (or every day if in hurry) no matter WHAT. And like Rubin argues, such a freedom from choice is extremely liberating. I’m in awe!

Apparently writing life can be a beach.

But remember, I’m a LARK, which means I love waking up early. Like really early. Like before 6 am. I’m serious. If you aren’t a lark, this probably feel likes a terrible idea. But if you don’t know, it doesn’t hurt to figure out if one is a lark or an night owl or something in between and rethink one’s writing schedule based on that.

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The importance of reading

When I was 8 years old, my primary school substitute teacher hinted that I might have faked my reading diary. For two weeks I marked two books read per week. I assure you I wasn’t. There was absolutely no incentive for faking anything since it was a pro reading campaign detached from grades. Simply, I just loved reading and felt that finally I got to share all the fun things I had found.

This unfortunate story has a happy ending: others’ opinions didn’t make me lose my interest in reading. In fact, I’ve kept my hobby and made it into a profession as a researcher. Now, imagine if I had kept a reading diary since I learned how to read. Not meaning to brag – or seem like a fraud – but that list would be massive.

But in research one can never read enough so I’m definitely in the right business. I plough through smaller or bigger piles of books and (digitalised) articles every week. Be assured that my pile includes more than two pieces per week. I’m loving it! My sincerest thanks to great library services.

I’ve also learned to stop reading something if it has not attracted my attention for long enough. In diplomatic terms, that’s called skimming.

My favourite reading meme
My favourite reading meme

Partying is reading. Reading is learning. And there’s no research without learning. There’s no living without learning. Someone would say there’s no living without partying, which is practically the same thing as proven in the quote above. So let’s keep on reading and learning.

A 4-year postdoctoral funding by Nessling Foundation & Kone Foundation to study post-growth self-employment

Eeva Houtbeckers has been granted postdoctoral funding from Nessling Foundation and Kone Foundation for a four-year study titled “Social entrepreneurship for post-growth societies in the global North: An ethnographic participatory study of self-employment practices for ecologically and socially just world”. Her aim is to use video ethnography to explore activities related to gaining a livelihood when aiming for an ecologically and socially just world in the global North, Finland in particluar.

Previous research has shown that we need alternatives to the dominant paradigm of continuous economic growth. Yet, we know little about work in post-growth societies. How the rethinking of
economic growth affects contemporary enterprises, which are currently expected to grow? How do people in post-growth organisations gain a living? What employment looks like in a world with social and ecological crisis?

Eeva’s multi-sited, participatory and institutional ethnographic study aims to understand the paradoxes related to self-employment for and in post-growth societies. The contributions of her study relate to rethinking the notion of entrepreneurship, advancing the multidisciplinary research project challenging economic growth as an imperative, and raising awareness of alternative forms of economic activities in the Global North.

More information: Dr. Sc. (Econ.) Eeva Houtbeckers, eeva.houtbeckers [ at ] aalto.fi, 045 676 0608, @aatteinen (Twitter, Instagram) or on ResearchGate project site

The post has also been published at Sustainability in Business Research group website.