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Time spent “on the runway” is time well spent

A week or so ago, I discussed how much time I spent every morning just “getting warmed up”. I love how Dr. Meredith Clark put it “3 hours of runway”.

There is A LOT of preparation work that goes into doing stuff. For example: earlier last week, I was part of a panel. We met at my 4:30am (11:30am Paris time), via Zoom, but I had to wake up at 3:30 am to shower, read again the questions we would be discussing, write up a few notes about what I wanted to say, etc.

I finished a paper last week, yes. BUT I spent hours creating the dataset. I also spent hours cleaning up the references of everything I downloaded and read. I uploaded hundreds of articles on to Mendeley and cleaned the fields so citations would turn out ok. I also invested a lot of time coding the articles I read. HOURS reading and re-reading.

Yes, I am a proponent of the “write every day” mantra. But if the “runway” time is way more than the time we actually have to write, then it’s obvious we’re not going to get any work done. I did not realize how much runway time *I* needed until I had to do dishes, cook, wash, much more regularly.

Posvar Hall (University of Pittsburgh) desks

Under normal circumstances (when I am able to pay a house cleaner, laundry, buy food, etc.) OBVIOUSLY I get more work done. Right now I spend a lot of time in the “runway”. I always knew I was privileged, but right now it’s sinking in even more.

As I have written before, sad as this sounds, we DO have to do The Grunt Work.

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Posted in academia, productivity.


2 Responses

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  1. Roslyn says

    I like that! “Runway time”.
    I am slowly studying a coursework Masters degree. I have 6 children still at home, three parents on the property, my husband runs his engineering business from home…..but I do have house help and helpful children. Yah!
    You better believe I have a lot of runway to my 90- 120 minutes a day I set aside for reading and writing. I am finding your advice re writing routines and organizing material inspiring and useful. Thank you.

  2. Rashida L. Weaver says

    I appreciate this article so much and you for writing it. You have no idea how much it helps right now.



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