Over the past year, I’ve received support from an academic coach who has helped me to become better at carving out time to work on focused writing on papers, book chapters, and grant proposals. I highly recommend her if you’re feeling overwhelmed with your academic work, are constantly working on other people’s agendas, and are looking to make lasting improvements to your academic quality of life! You can reach her at Scholars & Writers consulting (not sponsored :)).

Yesterday, I was asking her for advice on how to better fight the constant urge to check the news, social media, my phone, and whatever else digital interruption I am craving in these wonderful pandemic times. In addition to other advice, such as making a list of three to five things I would rather be doing than that, she asked me the following: do I want to produce or consume? This sounds simple enough, but is very powerful. For social media, do you want to consume whatever the latest and greatest engagement-optimizing algorithm decides is worth your attention or rather engage in activities that are adding value, either to your own life or that of others? For checking the news, is it helpful to constantly check in on ongoing events and worrying about their outcomes?

What would I rather do instead? I have many hobbies that are in many countries considered for grannies, such as crochet, knitting, sewing, where I could actually be making stuff for myself or to gift to others. In addition, I love to play story-driven videogames, enjoying beautiful graphics, worlds, and rich stories. Though games are arguably more on the consuming side of things, it inspires me more than doomscrolling does. Finally, I remembered that I actually enjoy writing a lot. Not only professionally, but also on this very blog that I began while I was still a PhD. So here we are, with a short blog post after a century of blogging hiatus. My hopes and dreams for this blog are to produce content that has the potential to be helpful to others. To produce more and consume less.

One of the things I produced recently, Raven Queen Mitts. Pattern by Jacquline Rivera

I will wrap up this post with some more recommendations of things I enjoyed not too long ago, so that the title hopefully makes sense ๐Ÿ™‚

I’d love to hear your recommendations in the comments (hopes and dreams), but that might be too big of an ask ๐Ÿ™‚ Whether you comment or not, I wish you a wonderful productive day!


  1. Wow, thank you for this, a really great re-entry into the warm wonder-world that is the blogosphere!

    “Do I want to produce or consume?” — this is indeed simple but powerful.

    We have talked about this before, but how can we keep these verbal amulets of clearly great power constantly in our vision? Tattoos maybe?! ๐Ÿ˜‰ (it would have to have a typo of course)

    1. Thanks! I was thinking a post-it not under the screen, but tattoos only if we can do this with incorrectly translated Chinese characters with a tribal outline ๐Ÿ˜€

  2. Great post, Noeska! All these “distractions” train our brain to be less and less focused everyday. It is important to step back and really focus on what really matters, and questions like the ones you mentioned helps to shape a meaningful reality.

    I am half way reading Atomic Habits, great book. After I will be reading Deep Focus by Cal Newport! Lots to reflect, learn and share, maybe I should get inspired by you and also start a blog! – Cheers!

    1. Thanks, Allan! You are right, lack of focus seems to be getting bigger and bigger, at least for me.

      Nice that you’re also reading Atomic Habits and thanks for the extra recommendation! I would love to read blog posts from you! Hope you do it ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Hi Noeska,

    I’ve always loved your insights, so I’m here to cheer on the fact that you wrote a piece!

    I too have been thinking a lot recently about creating versus consuming. I try to move away from the mindless scrolling and use social media for what I originally wanted to use these tools: connection and exchange of ideas. I’m now not opening a social media page without either posting an original thought of myself, a reflection on something I read, or commenting on a reflection of someone else.

    For work – as I move towards the midcareer years, I feel torn between all the admin requests, service responsibilities, need to review the work of my students etc – and my own research, writing and datacrunch time (the things I love most, after all, because otherwise I wouldn’t be an academic). I’m also thinking a lot about where I want my career to go, bigger projects/problems I should address, and if I want a small group in which I do a big chunk of research myself or a larger group of graduate students, which then requires more of my time for supervision.

    And for personal life: the pandemic has made my life consist of work and childcare duties and not much more. I’m now trying to carve out time for creative projects (currently knitting and learning the cello, voice and piano lines of an old favorite, …a distance there is… by Theatre of Tragedy to see if I can record a cover).

    1. Wonderful to hear from you, Eva! I remember your blog being such an inspiration for starting myself and I’m so happy it is still going strong! ๐Ÿ™‚

      Great suggestions regarding social media use. It seems like a conscious and mindful way of engaging with it!

      I also notice these work life changes as my career advances. The hardest has been carving out time for my own research for sure!

      For personal life, I do not have children, but hear many are in the same situation and can imagine it is challenging to carve out time for anything at all then! I hope you find time for your creative pursuits soon! Piano Theatre of Tragedy cover sounds really exciting!

Leave a comment, why don't you?