30 Days of Research Challenge

I’m a fan of 30 day challenges. I’ve been a regular participant in AcWriMo for a few years running, and I occasionally do 30 Days of Creativity in June. A few of my colleagues are participating in 30 Days of Biking this month, and Runner’s World famously does a holiday running streak, where you pledge to run every day between Thanksgiving and New Year’s.

There’s something really appealing about these. The challenge is short enough to not be daunting (unlike, say, Project 365), but still challenging enough (you know there will be at least one crazy day where it will be a struggle to fit in that run or make that craft or draft that article). And there’s always the hope that the 30 day kick-start of a habit will prolong the habit once the project ends.

While, to be honest, I’ve not yet found that any of the 30 day challenges I’ve done actually translates into an honest-to-goodness daily habit, I still like doing them. They give me permission to spent concentrated time on things I deem important—communicating my research, in the case of AcWriMo, and taking creative time for myself, in the case of 30 Days of Creativity. And even if I don’t end up continuing the daily aspect of the challenges past the 30 days, I often sustain some momentum post-challenge, which is definitely worthwhile.

So I’m embarking on a 30 day challenge of my own, in hopes of kick-starting a habit that’s sadly fallen by the wayside: research. Winter term was insane, and even though I consider myself the Queen of At Least 30 Minutes of Research Every Workday, that hasn’t happened regularly since….er, January. And even the few times I had time, theoretically, for research, I was somewhat stuck on some difficult problems and at some point it just became easier to….do other things and ignore the research.

This madness has to stop, if for no other reason than I genuinely like my work and want to get back to it!

So my challenge: 30 days of research. Yep, every day in April, I pledge to do between 30-60 minutes of research. Every day. Even weekends.

Research is (almost) anything related to my work. Right now, for instance, I’m reading/working my way through a fascinating article. I did an extensive lit search the other day. I need and want to sketch out some article ideas. A while back someone emailed me for help replicating one of our experiments, and I need to get back to them with some setup-related things. I want to play around with a related dataset I found. These all count. However, some research tasks, like meeting with my research student, don’t count—this has to be MY work in order to count.

It will be interesting to see how many days I can keep this up, and how much this will kick-start my productivity on the research front. If you’re interested on embarking on this with me, let me know in the comments or on Twitter!