So, what’s this Shut up & Work all about?

Eren Bilgen, PGR Community Development Officer in the University Graduate School, runs regular “Shut up and Work” days at Westmere and here she tells us what goes on…

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Shut Up And Work Graphic
An idea that started in San Francisco became a popular activity among writers around the world and transformed writing from being an isolated activity into a social experience. You probably came across “Shut up & Write” sessions for researchers in different universities. We call ours “Shut up & Work (SUW)” because working on your PhD involves many other activities as well – reading, data analysis, thinking, planning and so on.  We all know that shutting up and working is what we need to do to get our work done, but let’s face it; this is easier said than done. Somehow, the magic happens when it becomes a collective activity. This is how it works.

  1. One task at a time

Based on the concept of “Time Boxing“, we break the day (9:30-16:30) into 1-hour focused work sessions and 15-minute breaks. For each focused work hour, we choose SMART targets (you can learn more about SMART targets from a previous post).

  1. The power of sharing

After we plan the day, we share our targets with each other. I personally find sharing what you want to achieve that day with others as one of the most powerful motivators.

  1. Time to “Shut up and Work”

When it is time to work, we switch off from everything and focus on that one task. This means you only think about the task you chose to work on and nothing else. Of course, it also means no talking, Twitter, Facebook or e-mail (unless it is part of your work).

  1. Guilt-free breaks

This is probably everyone’s favourite part. Good coffee, biscuits and a chat with people who are going through similar challenges can work miracles to lift your mood up before you move on to the next work session.

  1. Reflecting on the day

At the end of the day, we go over our targets and reflect on the day. It is important to remember that SUW is not only an activity to get work done, but also a learning process. People tend to plan more than they can achieve in the first couple of sessions, but with more practice, they develop a better understanding of how much they can actually get done in an hour.

  1. Planning the next day

At the end of the day, we create a to-do list for the next day. Here you can list anything that you could not get done on the day. This saves at least 30 minutes of our time when we go back to work. Until then, it is time to reward yourself and celebrate your daily progress.

What do our regular SUW participants think?

“Shut up & Work Sessions help me in tackling anxiety and guilt as they ensure that I do a whole day of work without interruptions. The scheduled breaks are important for relaxing and socialising with peers.” Viola Wiegand

“Through organising your day, doing actual work and having lovely quick breaks, you are motivated and, indeed, with a fresh mind you go back to your research.”  Anoud Al-Tarawneh

“Shut Up and Work has allowed me to combine productive working with meeting other PGRs. It has also really helped me plan how I work so I get the most out of my time not only when I’m at SUW sessions but also across the rest of the week.”  Coralie Acheson

“I need pressure to do my best; therefore I am much more productive closer to my submission date. However, I am starting to use the Shut up & Work days as deadlines -every fortnight- and I am also leaning to control the time I need for every single task.” Alba de Juana

So, what do you think? Will you give SUW a try?

  • To attend SUW at Westmere, get in touch with me to reserve your place, or attend virtually: #Westmeresuw
  • Get involved in virtual SUW groups without leaving your home or office
  • Organise your own SUW session with your colleagues

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