This post follows the discussion on competition and I came up with it as I tried to figure out how to reorganize my files so as to work better, and considered programs like Scrivener.
I saw that Scrivener is a wiki, which is why I find it attractive; it has a sidebar that you can customize, and you can split the screen. This means you have a map of your project around you at all times. I like the idea because it is how I write, except that the map is all around me physically on cards and in paper files. Yes, I could have all that digitally, but it would not be around my draft, it would be behind it, and this is why I like the idea of a wiki.
What does managing a manuscript have to do with managing a career or indeed, a self?
After the discussion on competition I realized that the way people get bogged down is that they place competitive projects — getting funded, getting a job, getting a book contract, receiving tenure, getting promoted, winning awards — everything where you compete and are judged or ranked, and win or lose, in their research folder. If you do that, or if you allow teaching related service to crowd your teaching folder, then you are essentially strangling the plant you want to grow.
You should do things as with a wiki. The main part of the screen is split between research and teaching, with research at the top. You resize these windows depending on your type of job or the semester or the day it is, but this is always the main part of the screen. In the sidebar you have service tasks you must do, and research support activity like practice in the new language you are acquiring, as well as teaching support activity such as attending seminars in SLA.
Counterintuitive though it may seem, the sidebar is also the place for every competitive activity. This means the decks are always clear for research and teaching, that is to say for the further development of expertise. You also get things done since you have your sidebar right there and you do the things that are on it, but you never let COMPETITION move into the place of RESEARCH.
This leads us, then, to another of my famous dicta, along the lines of “writing is fun, and publishing is easy” — competition is not part of research, it is part of service.