My last post about breaking a no-work period by making tiny goals got me to thinking about the best time to make daily goals.

For me, the answer is hands-down at the end of the workday, especially if I’m transitioning between activities.

For example, when I’m researching, I don’t find it that difficult to pick up where I left off the previous day. I organize my files by publication date, and then simply read them in order. If I don’t write down “Begin reading sources from June of 2004” at the end of my work day, chances are I’ll figure it out and start reading the next morning anyway.

But, when moving between chapters, starting a new revision cycle, or approaching the introduction or conclusion of a chapter, I need that plan in place. Otherwise, I sit down in the morning with a panicked, overwhelmed feeling that rarely leads to productive work.

I have a calendar just for dissertation matters, and if I use it to plan my next day’s work, I start the day with a specific, reachable goal. In the calendar box for tomorrow, I wrote “make a list of reasons supporting my conclusion” and “make a new outline” (based on the list of reasons). So I know exactly what I will do tomorrow. I will sit down at the computer, open my chapter and a new document. I will read the chapter, pausing to write down reasons in the new document.

It doesn’t sound hard, does it?

That’s the idea.


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