Six killer tips to erase time-sucks from your day (for historians)

ClockOh!  How much more productive I would be if I didn’t waste so much time reading productivity and time management blogs.  You know, the ones with posts listing ‘killer tips’ and recommendations that you keep a time log?  The ones that command you to chart your ‘energy’, use the Pomodoro technique, go to bed earlier, etc.?

Well, for some time now, I’ve felt there’s a gap out there for a more specialist productivity blog, aimed specifically at historians.  So I’m going to have a go at writing it myself.

Here are my six killer tips to erase those time-sucks from the historian’s day…

1. Walking.  Do you walk?  I don’t have car, and I hate the Tube, so I walk.  A lot.  And while I’m walking I always listen on my headphones to podcasts.  At the moment I’m working on a new book that features Henry VIII, so I’m going through all the excellent British Library podcasts from 2009.  Learning a lot.

2. Watching TV. I feel that I really ought to watch most of the history programmes on the BBC.  But the thing is, I don’t really like watching history programmes.  I’d rather read a book.  So, while I’m watching, I’m often doing something else as well, like exercising.  Many’s the time that I’ve run into distinguished historian X, and gushed ‘oh, I loved your programme on Y’.  And indeed, I may well have watched and loved it.  I usually neglect to mention, though, that I was also doing Tracy Anderson’s Mat Workout at the same time.

3. Shopping. So you already have a vegetable box, or at least you know what one is.  But have you thought about a meat box?  Our one contains all sorts of weird and exciting types of meat, you put it all in the freezer, and if one morning you think, ‘I fancy oxtail!’ or ‘I fancy chewy mutton!’, out it comes.

4. The freezer itself.  I love cooking, and I also love freezing things for later, especially weird things.  The weirdest thing I have ever frozen was a fresh horseradish root.  Glimpsed at the back of the freezer drawer it looked ever so much a dead, frozen version of a certain male appendage.  If ever I discover an intruder in my house I shall say: ‘I think you might want to leave now.  If you’d like to know what happened to the last intruder, take a look inside my freezer’.

5. The hairdresser.  I love writing book reviews at the hairdresser’s.  Partly so I can discuss the book with Ange, who cuts my hair, and who loves her history books, and partly because it’s a set length of time in which I know I just have to bash it out.  Ange will listen to speeches, too, for sense and timing.  She does SO MUCH MORE than cut hair!  Book Ange!  Actually, don’t do that.  I might not be able to get an appointment.

6. Ok, so my killer tips have verged a bit off topic in respect to history, haven’t they?  Let me come back on course.  People’s ages.  If you’re writing about a topic that’s at all biographical, you’ll want to refer to how old they were at the time of certain events, and it’s really easy to get that wrong.  You need to make yourself a table of all the years of their life, their birthday, the start and end of each year in BOTH calendars old and new, and then their age.  Otherwise it’ll take you ages to work it out each time.

Oh, and another thing, these productivity blogs always end with a question.  So, what are YOUR career-specific killer tips to erase time-sucks?

4 thoughts on “Six killer tips to erase time-sucks from your day (for historians)

  1. Andrew West

    Hi Lucy,
    Well that certainly brightened up a gloomy Sunday morning!
    I know just what you mean about the freezer. I find all kinds of bits and pieces hibernate quite happily in there.My favourite is to combine stuff to freeze as soup.
    p s So cock au vin is on the menu?

  2. Harry Butler MBE

    Cooking : Favourite dishes ??

  3. John Atkinson

    I think time-sucks should be traded; I’ll take on your empty time and guarantee to do nothing, stay in bed even, in return for you being busy taking on all the things I might have been doing. Do we have a deal?

  4. Harry Chong

    Writer here.

    I find that not getting into arguments on the internet saves a lot of time. Sure, that person may be undeniably wrong about what they said, and sure, they may be signalling the downturn of humanity as a whole — but correcting them is not going to help. Because most people don’t like to be corrected. They’d rather believe they’re right, and be happy that they were never wrong. For this reason most of society has great contempt for the so called “know it all.”


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