For me, the best time of the day for new ideas for a new paper, a blog, or an interview with someone with a great deal of experience in evidence-based policy making, is in the morning when I cycle to work. I found few good jalan tikus (alternative roads) here in Jakarta which allow me to ride in not so much traffic and be bale to think. The problem is that I cannot stop on the spot and make a note on a piece of paper or in my mobile phone about the idea I just had.
Sometime I get to the office and the idea is gone. Taken over by the to-do-list or the emails I have not yet replied to.
Sometime the idea sticks. I get to the office tower where the office is. Fold my Brompton. Get upstair. Change. Do the 10 minutes breathing and meditation exercise with my colleagues. All along I think about when I will sit at my desk and start to type to ‘great’ incipit I have tried to remember for an hour or so but then …… I start checking my emails and get a bit lost. Then comes the first meeting of the day. Then, somehow, it is already lunch time. More meetings and a review of a paper that somebody else (but me) has written but we are soon going to publish later, it is time to change and get back on my bicycle to go home.
The ‘great’ idea I had in the morning on my way to the office is now regret for not having written a single line and a promise to myself that the next day I will double the time for writing, which I of course will not be able to do.
So, how about instead of aiming at one blog per day or one blog per week + working papers, interviews, podcasts, etc. aiming (to start with) at 10 minutes of writing per day and stick to that even when I feel that I could go on and am in the right mood to continue typing? Maybe that is the way as Oliver Burkeman has written in his column in the Guardian Weekly a couple of weeks ago:
At 10 minutes of writing per day means that progress will be slow, but also steadier. At the end of the year I may not have written the 25 blogs I unrealistically set as a target. Maybe I will have just five blogs. However they would be the ones I really wanted to write and not the ones I set as a target I will not meet.
Worth giving it a go. This short post was written in about 10 minutes and I feel already better for this weekend. Let’s see how it goes next Monday when the work starts again. That will be the real test.