“The usual result of worrying about excellence or perfection before you start creating is that you’ll never start creating. Let go of how good the end product will be and embrace the act of creating. Excellence comes as a byproduct of continual creation and learning.” (Charlie Gilkey, Productive Flourishing, July 30, 2009)
When you only have limited time to do research, it is normal to want to use that time well. But sometimes that desire can get in the way of getting anything done at all.
Research is a creative process. At some point you will need to focus on the quality of the product. Now is not that time.
Write down your half-formed thoughts.
Mind-map ideas that are generated out of that source material you collected last year.
Immerse yourself in that source material. Mess around with data.
Freewrite on a specific idea.
Sit in a comfy armchair with a cup of tea and just think about your research.
All of this is work.
Real work. You are not slacking.
I know you love your research. I know you love thinking big thoughts. But spending 15 minutes a day doing something you love is not something to feel guilty for.
In fact, I will hazard a guess that actually allowing yourself to ponder the ideas that brought you into this profession in the first place on a regular basis will energize you to be a better teacher and a better colleague.
And will lead to more (and perhaps better) products. But don’t worry about the products now.
Embrace the creative research process.
This post was edited June 29, 2015.