一小时工作法

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The 1-hour workday[1]

Jeffrey J. McDonnell [2]

Personal Problem

When I was an assistant professor, I felt constantly overwhelmed. I had classes to teach, relationships with new colleagues to navigate, a lab group to assemble, and an infant at home—not to mention research to conduct and papers to publish. To get ahead, I took on any opportunities that were offered, including membership on various editorial boards and professional committees. Despite working like a madman, my productivity as measured by paper output was meager. I simply could not find time in my day for undistracted writing. And when I did find the time after an extended stretch away from writing, the warm-up period to get back into the paper was often long, further slowing my progress.

当我还是一个助理教授的时候,我经常感到压力山大。我要教课、维持和新同事的关系、领导一个实验室团队,家里还有一个小孩要照顾,更不用提开展研究和发表论文。为取得进展,我抓住所有可能的机会,包括参加各种编辑委员会和专业委员会。 尽管像一个疯子一样工作,如果以论文数量来衡量的话,我的产出非常有限。 我根本无法在我的一天当中找到时间进行不被干扰的写作。很长时间不写之后,再次写作所需的热身时间往往很长,这进一步减慢了我的进展。

1-hour workday

At first I thought that this kind of frustration was routine for academic researchers. But as the years passed, I noticed a few senior colleagues who published with impressive regularity and always had a paper in the works. When I asked them what their secret was, I found that they prioritized doing small amounts of focused writing every day. I've since developed my own version of this approach. I call it the 1-hour workday, referring to the short, sacrosanct period when I do what I see as the “real” work of academia: writing papers.

一开始我以为这种沮丧对于科研工作者来说是老生常谈。但随着时间过去,我注意到有一些资深的同事可以做到非常规律地发表论文,任何时候都有一篇在写的论文。当我问他们有什么诀窍的时候,我发现他们每天优先做少量的集中精力的写作。我采用了这种工作方式,并发展出了我的个人版本。我称它为一小时工作日,指的是固定一小块雷打不动的时间用来做我认为是学术界的真正工作:写论文。

First thing in the morning is when I'm at my mental best, and when I'm still most in control of my time, so I now use the first hour of my day to write. For me, it's best done from home. I've developed something of a ritual: I wake up early, make an espresso, and write until I'm spent—or until distractions like email or the day's deadlines and meetings start to intrude. This is usually about an hour, some days a little less and some days more. I've found that, like hitting a ball in golf, regular writing is easier if I tee it up. I plan my early morning writing the night before. It is in my calendar and on my to-do list, with details about which paper and section I will be working on.

早上做第一件事情的时间是我我精神最好的时候,也是我最能掌控我的个人时间的时候,所以我现在使用我的一天当中的第一个小时用来写作。对我来说,在家里做这件事情最好。我已经发展处了一种仪式:早起,倒一杯咖啡,开始写作,直到时间结束或者直到一些干扰开始出现,例如邮件或者其它必须当天完成的事情和会议开始入侵。这段时间通常是一小时。有一些天时间短有些天时间长。我发现,正如高尔夫球一样,如果我发球,规律性的写作变得简单了。我在前一天晚上就计划好第二天早上的写作。我把它记在日历和我的待办事件列表中,详细的列出我要写的是哪篇文章的哪一部分。

“I wake up early, make an espresso, and write until I'm spent.”
“早起,倒一杯咖啡,开始写作,直到时间结束”

Effect

This routine has transformed my work life. Instead of the frustration that frequently plagued me early in my career, now—no matter how work proceeds after I've completed my writing time—I go home at the end of the day with the satisfaction of having accomplished something.

这种方式改变了我的职业生涯。我职业生涯的早期经常被沮丧的情绪所困扰,现在当我完成我的写作时间之后,不管工作进展多少,我在一天结束之后准时回家,并因为已经完成了一些东西而感到满意。

I have in no way mastered the writing game, but my 1-hour workday has certainly increased my academic output. And by keeping me focused and in practice, it has improved the quality of my writing and made the process much more enjoyable. It also offers an opportunity for deep thinking. I remember rarely having any such thinking time when I started out as a professor, but now I find that my daily keystrokes can lead to new ideas. When I string together days of successful writing, ideas flow and new connections present themselves even when I'm away from my keyboard, particularly on my bike ride to work or when I'm reading for pleasure.

我并未掌握写作游戏,但是我的一小时工作日确实增加了我的学术产出。并且通过保持专注和练习,我的写作质量得到提高,整个过程变得更加令人享受。这种工作方式还给我提供了深入思考的机会。我记得当我一开始做(助理)教授的时候,我很少有这种思考的时间,但是现在我发现每天敲击键盘写作可以带来新的想法。在我把成功写作的时间长了之后,即使当我远离键盘的时候想法流和新的联系也会自己出现,尤其是在我骑自行车上班或阅读时。

Many days, “writing” means editing and revising the work of others. This work can sometimes be a slog, but I keep my spirits up by thinking of it as a game of table tennis. My goal is to return the serve—when done quickly, this greatly improves the game.

很多时候,写作意味着编辑和修改他人的工作。这种工作有时是一个大麻烦,但我通过把它当成乒乓球比赛的方式来振奋自己。我的目标是把球打回去,当很快完成这一目标的时候,非常有利于比赛。

In any sport, one must stay toned and conditioned. If I fall out of practice, I quickly lose that fitness, and my writing and editing become labored. So, even though distractions abound, I protect that daily workout at the keyboard during the first precious work hour of the day. I've learned that writing does not need long stretches of uninterrupted time. Focus and regularity are what matter. I now advise my Ph.D. students and postdocs who are going on to faculty positions to adopt daily writing as an early-career habit so that they don't repeat my years of writing frustration. At any career stage, a daily writing ritual can help improve performance—and, perhaps most importantly, job satisfaction.

在任何一种运动当中,一个人必须保持保持节奏和状态。如果我不能坚持的话,我将很快失去这种适应性,并且我的写作和修改工作就会变得令人疲惫。所以即使在有干扰存在的情况下,我确保在一天当中第一个宝贵的工作时间里进行写作锻炼。我领悟到写作并不需要一段很长的不受干扰的时间。专注和有规律最为重要。我现在建议我的那些想要找教职的博士生和博士后把每天写作当成一种早期职业生涯的习惯,以避免他们重复我很多年来在写作方面遇到的挫折。在职业生涯的任何阶段,每天写作的仪式能够帮助提高绩效,并且,也许最为重要的是它可以提高工作满意度。

Reference

  1. Jeffrey J. McDonnell. (2016) The 1-hour workday. Science 353: 6300, pp. 718, DOI: 10.1126/science.353.6300.718
  2. Jeffrey J. McDonnell is a professor in the School of Environment and Sustainability at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, Canada, and Sixth Century Chair at the University of Aberdeen in the United Kingdom. He thanks his Ph.D. students and postdocs for feedback.
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