My writing routine is #BetterThanBefore

I recently finished listening to Gretceh Rubin’s book Better than before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives. It was great because I understood my own habits much better after the book. Refreshing! Rubin uses many fun categories for readers (listneres) to reflect their own ways of organising their lives.

I wasn’t reading it for any particluar purpose but after a while I was encouraged to rethink my writing habits. After an intensive 2016, which was mainly about delivering against deadlines, early 2017 has been about transforming my writing habist from goal orientation to time orientation. That has not been easy since I had gotten used to writing because I had a deadline. Therefore, developing a habit of writing because it was time for it (i.e. developing ideas) seemed difficult.

Out of curiosity I decided try follow one of the examples she gave for larks, i.e. people who are at their best in the mornings.

Start immediately after you wake up.

Before I had started my writing sessions after morning streches, breakfast, and orienting for the day’s tasks. As a contrast, the new style meant starting immediately after waking up and moving on to other tasks after an hour or so. My only edition was to have something to eat while writing because everyone close to me knows what happens if I delay the first meal of the day. You do not want to be around for that event.

After a week I can happily conclude that my new habit of 60 minutes of early morning writing seems to work GREAT. It pairs up with a to do list for writing that sets up my priorities per each day & week.

Before finishing each day, I decide what I write after I wake up.

The to do list has two columns per day: (1) early morning writing goals (60 mins) and (2) before lunch writing goals (60-90 mins). In the worst case scenario, I will have to skip the second writing session because of teaching/meetings/fieldwork – but NEVER the first one. So I get writing time every week day (or every day if in hurry) no matter WHAT. And like Rubin argues, such a freedom from choice is extremely liberating. I’m in awe!

Apparently writing life can be a beach.

But remember, I’m a LARK, which means I love waking up early. Like really early. Like before 6 am. I’m serious. If you aren’t a lark, this probably feel likes a terrible idea. But if you don’t know, it doesn’t hurt to figure out if one is a lark or an night owl or something in between and rethink one’s writing schedule based on that.

The importance of reading

When I was 8 years old, my primary school substitute teacher hinted that I might have faked my reading diary. For two weeks I marked two books read per week. I assure you I wasn’t. There was absolutely no incentive for faking anything since it was a pro reading campaign detached from grades. Simply, I just loved reading and felt that finally I got to share all the fun things I had found.

This unfortunate story has a happy ending: others’ opinions didn’t make me lose my interest in reading. In fact, I’ve kept my hobby and made it into a profession as a researcher. Now, imagine if I had kept a reading diary since I learned how to read. Not meaning to brag – or seem like a fraud – but that list would be massive.

But in research one can never read enough so I’m definitely in the right business. I plough through smaller or bigger piles of books and (digitalised) articles every week. Be assured that my pile includes more than two pieces per week. I’m loving it! My sincerest thanks to great library services.

I’ve also learned to stop reading something if it has not attracted my attention for long enough. In diplomatic terms, that’s called skimming.

My favourite reading meme
My favourite reading meme

Partying is reading. Reading is learning. And there’s no research without learning. There’s no living without learning. Someone would say there’s no living without partying, which is practically the same thing as proven in the quote above. So let’s keep on reading and learning.

A 4-year postdoctoral funding by Nessling Foundation & Kone Foundation to study post-growth self-employment

Eeva Houtbeckers has been granted postdoctoral funding from Nessling Foundation and Kone Foundation for a four-year study titled “Social entrepreneurship for post-growth societies in the global North: An ethnographic participatory study of self-employment practices for ecologically and socially just world”. Her aim is to use video ethnography to explore activities related to gaining a livelihood when aiming for an ecologically and socially just world in the global North, Finland in particluar.

Previous research has shown that we need alternatives to the dominant paradigm of continuous economic growth. Yet, we know little about work in post-growth societies. How the rethinking of
economic growth affects contemporary enterprises, which are currently expected to grow? How do people in post-growth organisations gain a living? What employment looks like in a world with social and ecological crisis?

Eeva’s multi-sited, participatory and institutional ethnographic study aims to understand the paradoxes related to self-employment for and in post-growth societies. The contributions of her study relate to rethinking the notion of entrepreneurship, advancing the multidisciplinary research project challenging economic growth as an imperative, and raising awareness of alternative forms of economic activities in the Global North.

More information: Dr. Sc. (Econ.) Eeva Houtbeckers, eeva.houtbeckers [ at ], 045 676 0608, @aatteinen (Twitter, Instagram) or on ResearchGate project site

The post has also been published at Sustainability in Business Research group website.

Doctoral dissertation: Debunking the heroic social entrepreneurship myth

Social entrepreneurship is about mundane work and not about heroism, argues Eeva Houtbeckers in her dissertation to be defended on 28 October.

Social entrepreneurship has been developed as a reaction to “conventional” entrepreneurship, which is connected with maximising profits and taking risks. The uncritical understanding of social entrepreneurship repeats the myth of a heroic individual, also commonly linked to entrepreneurship. Houtbeckers’ study challenges this and other myths related to social entrepreneurship by examining mundane work practices.

Mundaneness essential for understanding phenomena

Because social entrepreneurship and conventional entrepreneurship are empty signifiers, examining mundane work is essential for understanding the phenomena. In her research, Houtbeckers focused on four organisations within the fields of co-working spaces, open data, recycled clothing, and veganism. All of these organisations had been established to address or resolve societal challenges.

– It has been difficult to position these young urban entrepreneurs who aim to make a living by addressing contemporary challenges. Yet their work needs to be understood as one means of practicing entrepreneurship, comments Houtbeckers.

However, any reference to social entrepreneurship creates an implicit juxtaposition between social and conventional entrepreneurship.

– Previous research has shown that it is impossible to provide an exhaustive definition for entrepreneurship. Therefore, Houtbeckers argues, there is no “conventional” or “social” entrepreneurship, rather entrepreneurships which represent a variety of everyday practices.

The microentrepreneurs followed for the study aimed at influencing existing practices with business ideas stemming from their concerns on the contemporary issues, such as clearcutting rainforest or intensive animal farming. However, the microentrepreneurs were limited in their power to affect wide-ranging processes. Nevertheless, social entrepreneurship as a popular concept could be a rational and socially acceptable way to disguise radical aims for social change and provide space for experimenting with marginal ideas that may challenge existing ways of doing things. Thus, social entrepreneurship can be understood as everyday activism.

– If there is something heroic in social entrepreneurship, it is the mundaneness of the work, claims Houtbeckers. Understanding this is essential for considering entrepreneurship as a means to solve or alleviate complex societal challenges.

The doctoral dissertation of Eeva Houtbeckers, M. Sc. (Econ.), in the field of Organization and Management “Mundane social entrepreneurship. A practice perspective on the work of microentrepreneurs.” will be publicly examined at the Aalto University School of Business on Friday, 28 October 2016. The defence of the dissertation will be held in the Chydenia building (address: Runeberginkatu 22-24, Helsinki, Finland): Saastamoinen Foundation Hall (3rd floor), starting at 12 p.m. (noon). Opponent: Professor Karin Berglund (Stockholm University); Custos: Professor Minna Halme (Aalto University).

Eeva Houtbeckers’ dissertation has been published in the Aalto University publication series DOCTORAL DISSERTATIONS (171/2016). The dissertation will be published electronically in Aaltodoc service

Further information:
Eeva Houtbeckers
045 676 0608

Twitter: @aatteinen



Väitös: yhteiskunnallinen yrittäjyys murtaa sankarimyyttiä

Yhteiskunnallinen yrittäjyys on arjen puurtamista eikä sankaritarinaa, esittää Eeva Houtbeckers 28. lokakuuta tarkastettavassa väitöstutkimuksessaan.

Yhteiskunnallinen yrittäjyys on kehitetty vastavoimaksi ”tavanomaiselle” yrittäjyydelle, joka liitetään voitontavoittelun maksimointiin ja riskinottoon. Vallalla oleva yhteiskunnallisen yrittäjyyden kritiikitön ymmärrys toistaa yrittäjyyteen liitettyä sankarimyyttiä, joka ulkoistaa yhteisen vastuunkannon kyvykkäille yksilöille. Houtbeckersin tutkimus kyseenalaistaa tämän ja muita yhteiskunnalliseen yrittäjyyteen liitettyjä myyttejä tekemällä näkyväksi mikroyrittäjien arkisia työkäytänteitä.

Olennaista on arkinen tekeminen

Yhteiskunnallinen yrittäjyys on samalla tavalla tyhjä käsite kuin yrittäjyys, ja ilmiön ymmärtämisen kannalta arjen työn tuntemus on olennaista. Houtbeckers seurasi väitöskirjaansa varten neljää organisaatiota uusilla toimialoilla. Toimialoja olivat avoin data, kierrätystekstiilit, veganismi ja yhteisölliset työtilat. Kaikki yritykset oli perustettu jonkin yhteiskunnallisen ongelman ratkaisemiseksi.

– Yhteiskunnallisten haasteiden parissa toimeentuloaan yrittäviä urbaaneja nuoria on ollut vaikea sijoittaa mihinkään olemassa olevaan määritelmään. Heidän työnsä tulee kuitenkin ymmärtää yhdeksi muodoksi harjoittaa yrittäjyyttä, sanoo Houtbeckers.

Puhumalla yhteiskunnallisesta yrittäjyydestä luodaan implisiittinen vastakkainasettelu sen ja tavanomaisen yrittäjyyden välille.

– Aikaisempi tutkimus on osoittanut, että yrittäjyyttä on mahdotonta määritellä tyhjentävästi. Siten ei ole olemassa mitään ”tavanomaista yrittäjyyttä” eikä ”yhteiskunnallista yrittäjyyttä”, vaan kyse on mielikuvista, toteaa Houtbeckers.

Tutkimuksessa seuratut mikroyrittäjät pyrkivät vaikuttamaan olemassa oleviin käytänteisiin liiketoimintaideoilla, jotka pohjautuvat heidän huoliinsa maailman tilasta. Mikroyrittäjien valta muuttaa laaja-alaisia prosesseja on kuitenkin rajallista. Yhteiskunnallinen yrittäjyys voi rajoitteista huolimatta olla sosiaalisesti hyväksytty tapa tavoitella kestävää yhteiskunnallista muutosta, joka poikkeaa vallitsevista tekemisen tavoista. Siksi yhteiskunnallinen yrittäjyys voidaan ymmärtää arjen aktivismiksi.

– Jos jokin on yhteiskunnallisessa yrittäjyydessä sankarillista, se on arjen puurtaminen, sanoo Houtbeckers. Tämän ymmärtäminen on olennaista, kun yrittäjyyttä ajatellaan yhtenä tapana ratkaista tai lievittää kompleksisia yhteiskunnallisia ongelmia.

Kauppatieteiden maisteri Eeva Houtbeckers väittelee 28.10.2016 klo 12 organisaatiot ja johtaminen -alaan kuuluvasta aiheesta Arkinen yhteiskunnallinen yrittäjyys: Käytäntöote mikroyrittäjien työhön (Mundane social entrepreneurship: A practice perspective on the work of microentrepreneurs). Vastaväittäjänä toimii professori Karin Berglund (Tukholman yliopisto) ja kustoksena professori Minna Halme (Aalto-yliopisto). Väitöstilaisuus järjestetään Aalto-yliopiston Chydenia-rakennuksessa, Saastamoisen säätiön salissa (3. kerros) osoitteessa Runeberginkatu 22–24, Helsinki.

Houtbeckersin väitöskirja on julkaistu sarjassa Aalto University publication series DOCTORAL
DISSERTATIONS (171/2016). Väitöskirja ilmestyy myös sähköisenä Aaltodoc-palvelussa

Eeva Houtbeckers
045 676 0608

Twitter: @aatteinen