Discipline is critical for all professionals, genealogy or other. Achieving discipline can be a real struggle. While I talk about discipline a lot I still consider myself to be a work in progress. Some things are very easy to do while with others I find I really need to push, even force, myself to get moving.
Here’s a case in point. Recently I was invited to write an article for the Association of Professional Genealogists Quarterly (APGQ). I accepted the opportunity and was excited about my topic.
Unfortunately, I have a bit of a quirky side when it comes to writing. I prefer to “feel” what I am writing while I am writing it. I guess that makes me a “passion writer.” Sometimes when writing for publications (rather than for myself in my blogs) I get excited about the idea of writing but then when I sit down to do it my passion seems to be gone.
Not surprisingly, that happened this time as well. I loved my topic and I pushed myself to write but it seemed so forced. I was frustrated.
When it comes to writing for publications, deadlines loom and there is nothing that will make them go away. These days there is nothing more that I would rather be doing than transcribing my great great grandfather’s diary. That can’t be considered regular work by any means. I had to push it out of my mind and save it for non-working hours. I gave myself one last shot at discipline.
After getting the family out of the house, I sat down with a blank sheet of paper. For a 2,500 word article I predicted that ten subheads would be reasonable. I sketched out two main sections and then added a total of ten sub-topics between the two.
Surprising myself, I also wrote out the final paragraph.
Next, I headed to my computer with paper in hand. I refused to open any programs except for MS Word (yes, avoidance of the internet is critical). I even left my cell phone on another floor so that I wouldn’t be tempted to look at it.
First I re-read what I had already written, making some minor edits. Then I wrote to the key points on the paper positioned directly in front of me. Thankfully, some of the key points had already been completed. You may consider it cheating by including parts that I had already finished but I consider that a motivational saving grace. Small victories matter!
I sat there until it was completely done. I think I did give myself a quick tea and water break but otherwise I held fast to the task at hand.
This was a victory for discipline. I admit I am not always so successful. Sometimes it takes two attempts or more to get a task done.
How do you feel about your own professional discipline? Can you stay on task or do certain subjects distract you away from what needs to get done? Do you have any tricks to keep you focused and productive on a daily basis? I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic that effects every genealogy professional.
Photo by: Rainer Stropek