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Finding Time for Scholarly Writing (Part I)

by Justin B. Moore, PhD, MS, FACSM

The Scholarship of Public Health addresses topics relevant to scientific publishing, dissemination of evidence and best practices, and the education of current and future professionals. This column presents some considerations and best practices for finding time to produce scholarship in the form of a manuscript or presentation.

Justin B. Moore, PhD, MS, FACSM

One of the most oft-repeated statements in the academy is “I really should be writing.” It has even evolved into a number of humorous memes that you shouldn’t search for (since you should be writing). Despite the ubiquity of frustrations over self-sabotage of the writing process, there are a number of productive scholars who successfully produce a robust body of scholarly work. Even if you take away the superhuman, Stephen King-esq scholars, you still have many of our colleagues who are amazingly productive despite having many responsibilities and, dare I say, happy lives outside of work.

While I don’t consider myself among the publishing elite, I do feel that I have learned a few things that can help a struggling writer increase productivity. These suggestions are behavioral, environmental, and social by nature but fall neatly into two broad categories: a) avoid time sucks, and b) seek efficiency everywhere. In this Part I, I’ll cover “Time Sucks” and cover “Seek Efficiency” in Part II.

Avoiding Time Sucks

What are time sucks? In a broad sense, they’re anything that delays your journey to self-actualization (or whatever your goal in life may be); in a narrow sense, they’re the things that keep you from writing or harm your scholarly productivity. There are many, but here are a number of common dangers and how to avoid them:

While there are a million other time sucks out there, these are often the most consuming. Next month we’ll cover strategies to maximize efficiency, which will hopefully help you optimize the time that you’ve made available by avoiding time sucks.


Justin B. Moore, PhD, MS, FACSM, is the Associate Editor of the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice and an Associate Professor in the Department of Implementation Science of the Wake Forest School of Medicine at the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, NC, USA. Follow him at Twitter and Instagram. [Full Bio]

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