Monday, 19 February 2018

Keeping it Real

When we start doing a research project we really need to think realistically about how much time we have got. An article or a report can easily take 300 plus hours to write, so we have to think carefully about how much time we have spare to prep, plan, research, write and proof it.

If we need three months to do the research itself, then realistically it will take a month to negotiate and plan the project, and at least a month to write it up. So that blows our project out to five months: twenty weeks. If we think about that in terms of hours, that's 15 hours a week for those twenty weeks. Do we have the time to take that long? Do we have the spare capacity to fit it into any less time?

In all likelihood, most of us won't have five months to do a project. Organisational demands will want it done in three months. That means we have two choices. Firstly, do the work the way we had planned, and increase our hours per week, in order to condense the time we take. Or secondly, narrow the scope of our project.

If we take the first option, that means we have to flag that we need to postpone other work that we are doing now, or get incredibly good at planning. No minute wasted. Planning done in detail: adjusted, followed, reported on, appointments made, tracking used.

If we take the second option, then we have a much more manageable project. By narrowing the scope, I mean using method, field or theme to make the data collection and write up more focused, so reducing data complexity (read more here). Sometimes this may mean breaking the project into a Stage 1 and Stage 2 project, which makes life so much easier!

Ideas for keeping it real, with either option: 
  1. Use a calendar to roughly plan out the timeline for the project. Think about what resources you will need, and when.
  2. Get a detailed plan off someone who knows their stuff, modify it and use it (here). Stick to it. 
  3. Draw a map of your journey (here).
  4. When you lose motivation, decide to just do five minutes (then that's another five minutes done - read more here). 
  5. Schedule blocks of time to work on the project, and turn off email, phone and non-essential internet to avoid distractions. Close your door, or work away from others.
  6. Start with the big ugly bits that you don't like, then, once you have done some of that, reward yourself with the bits you do like doing.
  7. Keep visualising the outcome.
 Hope that helps!


Sam

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