the grid

the grid

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Week 5: summertime, and the bugs are a-buzzing...

Hello everyone, I hope you all had a good, productive week with a little fun here and there!

The UK is having one of its hotter-than-normal few day spells (we nearly made it to 27 degrees C/ 80 degrees F today, and that's a scorcher by local standards) and my cat wants the back door open constantly so she can lie in "outdoors sun" and sniff the air whilst still being cosily settled on carpet (also to show off her power over her human).  I indulged her, and of course several flies decided to come in and are now refusing to leave again.  Add to that the constant niggly itching of a few midge bites from having an outside drink one evening earlier this week, a fruitfly problem in the microscope lab at work (why students put banana skins into the sharps bin I will never know, but it happened again, and this week has been one of constant swatting in there as a result) and a swarm of honeybees deciding to occupy a tree in our building's courtyard on Friday, and it's perhaps not surprising that when I came to write this week's prompt, my favourite of all the writing group inventions came to mind - Dame Eleanor’s Mervaylous Anti-Bugge Power-Writer Spray:
if you’re having trouble with annoying buzzing from obnoxious voices telling you things about being lazy, not good enough, etc., or if you are visited by Saint Anthony’s Demons of Temptation suggesting that you should just spend ten minutes doing something else and then you will write better, squirt some of this on the little buggers.  Both demons and disembodied voices just shrivel right up
Our discussion topics so far this session have all been about the writing mindset - considering when we feel competent and powerful, imagining alternate selves, finding a drishti, setting goals - and have been focused on positive thoughts.  So this week let's talk about those habits of mind that really deserve a good dose of Anti-Bugge Spray to help us make mental space for the positive things we've come up with in earlier weeks.   ___________________________

Last week's goals:

Contingent Cassandra (carried over)
get pool pass
lift weights 1x
work in garden 1x
pinpoint some potential days off in the June/July calendar, and plan to protect them

Dame Eleanor Hull
Keep packing.
Keep working on the garden.
Do necessary TRQ stuff like pay bills.
Keep on with the process of getting estimates and scheduling stuff that needs to be done to the house.
Do a bit more about the summer course.
Do some research: 2-3 hours. Try changing venues.

Elizabeth Anne Mitchell (carried over)
Walk a half-hour a day or more.
Write five sentences daily.
Journal daily.

Good Enough Woman
1) Make major progress on the study. Empty desk drawers. Put daybed/trundle online for sale. Take books to office.
2) Swim 2x. Yoga 1x.
3) Write 3x, 15 minutes each.
4) Read two short stories (along with other reading).
5) Visit mom.

heu mihi
1. Totally finish and print ACLA and Norway; print and organize all travel materials.
2. Totally finish and upload tenure statement and all research-related stuff.
3. First round of revisions to ch. 5
4. Read and incorporate last essay for ch. 3.
5. Survive Saturday's birthday party.

This week:
1 write 5x
2 read 5x
3 finish outline for workshop
4 yoga, even if just 1x

1) polish up my SCConference talk for the regional workshop
2) Spend some time on GrantINeverShouldHaveStarted (say 2 hours)
3) rough outline both of the ProblemChild paper 2's.
4) stay away from sugar!

(1) make progress on the printing project.
(2) finish the marking
(3) make a cake
(4) make progress on knitting project
(5) do something with one of my single author papers

1) Finish the important book.
2) Revise Chapter 1
3) Revise the outline of Chapter 2
4) Work on the main material on Chapter 2
5) Make it a habit to do 5- minute-exercises several times a day
6) Find more ‘my own 15 minutes’

Notorious Ph.D.
• Write 2500 words on Hot Mess Chapter
• 3 days yoga + 1 day morning meditation
• finish reading 2 major source collections (messy medieval handwriting and all!)
• Toss or file 30 things

1. Do minimal draft of assessment report
2. Turn to violence paper
3. Walk in the mornings - its about to be fiendishly hot here (40 degrees C, over 100), so the morning is the only time to exercise
4. Read
5. Do at least one fun thing over the weekend

1. Write out my RSA presentation script into ppt notes and run analyses
2. Review methods paper and send to first author
3. Run other searches for scoping review
4. Figure out methodology for OTHER scoping review (ugh)
5. Methods for PTSD paper
6. Do online trainings for new university
7. Resubmit aging paper


  1. Habits of mind, eh? I have this particular downward cognitive spiral that once it starts, it just goes and it gets dark - fast. Interestingly, this particular spiral went away during my break in grad school (I had to leave for a few years due to getting behind deadlines after my dad suddenly died). But, once I was readmitted - it started up again, and it is particularly pernicious. Academia tweaks me like pretty much nothing else does.

    In grad school, we learned about these cognitive spirals and about how one of the theories about cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) was that that spiral gets reinforced the more you go down it, and it gets easier and easier to access - and thus takes less and less to go down it. It’s kind of like when you make a path in some thick, deep grass - the first time you try to follow it again, it is hard because your first foray down it barely made a dent - but by the 100th time, the grass is flattened and it is super easy to go down it.

    So, CBT is supposed to help train your brain to take other paths so that one withers. It’s thus interesting to me then that despite a break of a few years during which I never went down that path, it was so easy to go down again - and again, and again. (as an aside, I'm not a fan of CBT - but I think the theory here is interesting).

    Last week
    1. Write out my RSA presentation script into ppt notes and run analyses - DONE except for discussion
    2. Review methods paper and send to first author - DONE
    3. Run other searches for scoping review - DONE
    4. Figure out methodology for OTHER scoping review (ugh) - DONE
    5. Methods for PTSD paper - DONE
    6. Do online trainings for new university - DONE
    7. Resubmit aging paper - DONE

    This week
    1. Finish RSA presentation and practice it to death
    2. Review med student’s paper
    3. Revise NIH grant (since I am transferring it to my new university - I have to revise it for that university; I want to get this done this week so that the funding doesn’t get delayed)
    4. Write search string and run searches for other scoping review
    5. Keep trucking with first scoping review (this is a beast - 8000k+ publications that I have to sift through)

    Working from home full-time is working out very well - I am way more productive and keeping up my exercise schedule - despite the horrible heat here (mid 90s with 60+% humidity; I have no a/c). My mentor and I are going to a conference next weekend, and it is projected to be in the 90s there too - which is miserable (I hate having to worry about looking professional in the heat!!!!). We’re not staying at the conference hotel, so that makes it worse because we will be spending more time outside.

    1. Wow, what a productive week - you are doing SO WELL this iteration! Go you!

      I'm also not a fan of CBT, or the practitioners of it and books swearing by it I've encountered (although I had it described to me by someone who works in mixed methods, whatever that's called in counselling/therapy speak, as a method which could be very effective for people who didn't do introspection, so who had no idea there was a path and that the 'voices' you hear that push you down the path are not your own rational thoughts, but for someone who is self-aware and reflective it doesn't do that much, which made sense to me), but the well-worn path metaphor still has its uses; the idea that you can spot that you are starting on it, can see the early sights that mark it, that hedge, this twisted tree, that stone in the path, recognise it for what it is and either turn around or march off into the long grass... EAM mentioned a "Good Things" file below and you certainly have plenty at the moment to dip into, and probably have many other ideas for ways to divert the spiral.

      Sounds like working at home is going well despite the heat (that's awful, 82 here today and I gave up in the afternoon...). Hopefully the conference will give you an abundance of Quality Mentor Time, and you'll find shady routes and air conditioned buses for getting around.

    2. I find working from home is great, too -- at least for the part of the work that requires the creative faculties. But afternoons or evenings in the coffee shop are essential to my sanity: I live alone, so I'd never see another human being if I didn't do this too.

    3. Thanks, JaneB! My grad program was all CBT - but that wasn't my orientation (when I was practicing, I'm now just a researcher) - I was feminist psychodynamic. It worked with non-introspective people too. It didn't seem to me that my clients who were from the poorest and most violent areas of Chicago really needed to just change how they thought about things. But I think every good shrink needs to have every tool and every relevant metaphor at their disposal.

      Notorious PhD - I live alone too. I haven't seen another person in days - and I'm okay with that so far. That will change drastically once I move to NYC in August - so I am enjoying it while I can!

  2. Topic: Like Waffles, I fall into the downward spiral very easily, from early years of (unsuccessful) training to be the empty-headed, pretty Southern woman. I am getting better at opening the file of positive feedback I’ve received, my home-grown version of the Bugge Spray. However, I struggle most often with being the misfit, the “failed” scholar. In fact, the Dean who called me a “professor wanna-be” hurt me far more than the ones who attack me as a librarian. I define myself as a medievalist who ended up in rare books because there were few jobs in the early 80’s, and my languages, knowledge of paleography and of other things medieval made that a good choice for keeping me clothed and housed. But it is sometimes brought home to me that not having finished the dissertation or going on the market is my Fisher King wound. I know that healing has to be internal, but I could also use several shots of the Bugge Spray.

    Last week’s goals:
    Walk a half-hour a day or more. Yes. I averaged about 40 minutes a day, so I’m pleased, especially with how hot it has been.
    Write five sentences daily. Yes. I managed to stick to this goal, although it was clumped more on the free days. I’ll still take it!
    Journal daily. No, and I felt the lack of it. This mind-clearing is very helpful, especially given the difficulties at work.

    Analysis: June is a tough month for me, partly because it is the worst month of the year for faculty librarians. We have to live through the air conditioning being turned off, the hot water being turned off, and the lunch places on campus closing, “because no faculty are here in the summer.” I have two conferences, one at which I often present, and the other with attendance and note-taking demands, as well as a 6-7 page annual review, which does nothing for my salary or standing in the community. On the personal front, June contains several family birthdays, and two death anniversaries. I will gladly see June in my rear view mirror.

    We are also gearing up to welcome the new boss, which fills me with angst. I swing widely between wanting to fade into the wallpaper to escape notice, versus standing up for my rights and the rights of my staff, who have historically been behind the door whenever any benefits have been thrown to the masses.

    Next week’s goals:
    Walk forty minutes a day.
    Hydrate and keep track of it.
    Finish annual review (quickly becoming TRQ).
    Pack and plan for conference (also quickly becoming TRQ).
    Touch sabbatical outline and application every day.
    Follow book plan for the week.

    Waffles and others in the Northeast--try to stay cool. It’s another scorcher in upstate New York today. Have a great week, everyone. Excelsior.

    1. Sounds like a good week on the whole, especially given the heat.

      Can you maybe collect things which make you feel good specifically about your scholar-self, whether that's publications or notes or a piece of your subject that triggers thoughts you particularly think are clever and original? Files of feedback from other people are great, but they do kind of keep us in the "I need external validation" mode, I've learnt, and whilst that is sometimes very useful as a reality check, it can also leave us vulnerable to them (Deans or Heads of School (Incoming) with a knack for hitting right in the ego-armour-joints, for example)...

    2. That's a good idea, Jane. It would avoid the "they don't really know what a fraud I am" narrative. It's better to have the original thoughts.

    3. Roger Sherman Loomis never earned a Ph.D. As he said, who would examine him? Take Loomis as your model and hold your head high.

    4. Fraud complex never goes away, I think. In fact, I remember a conversation with an undergrad mentor when I just found out I'd gotten into an M.A. program. "I feel like a fraud!", I told her. "Everyone feels like that. It's the ones who DON'T feel like frauds that you need to watch out for." So: you're in good company.

    5. Notorious PhD - that's almost like why would one want a president who thinks they - and only they - know how to run the country. That level of narcissism and confidence is scary. It's better to have some healthy insecurity and anxiety.

    6. I love Loomis' answer, DEH. And Notorious, your mentor's point is a very good one. Thank you both! I will remember those answers next time I'm feeling inadequate.

    7. My favourite head of department (back in grad school days) said that as soon as you thought you knew everything you should retire immediately, as you were clearly becoming more stupid. And remember the Dunning-Kruger effect! Would you rather think you're great and actually be bad at stuff, or be good at stuff and worry about not being good ENOUGH?

    8. Scary point, but a valid one, Waffles!

      I love your department head's saying, Jane. And you are spot on--I prefer the latter!

  3. I have a lot of mental bugs; some are hostile to me, some just hostile to academic or fiction writing (they're insidious because there ARE always other important things one could/should do than write), some are mean, some are just "look, shiny!" (I am very good at being distracted). I've got better over the years at accepting they're going to be around, but at writing something anyway, or at not wasting energy on self-blame if I don't - tomorrow's always there, and the work will never be completely done even if I was "perfect" today, so it's not a disaster, just a Thing That Happened (catastrophising is something I'm very good at). Naming them as "bugs" definitely helps me see them as something ignorable or controllable or at least separate from the thing I'm trying to do... it shrinks them to their proper size!

    last week:

    1) polish up my SCConference talk for the regional workshop ish - I got a little carried away and added bits from some other talks, and it didn't come together very well, but it was fine
    2) Spend some time on GrantINeverShouldHaveStarted (say 2 hours) YES
    3) rough outline both of the ProblemChild paper 2's. no - I ended up having to do more work on ProblemChildpart2paper1, and then write a section for a paper from an old project whose lead author has decided to Get It Done This Summer, so I DID do some writing towards publication just not what I planned
    4) stay away from sugar! mostly, although I did eat a Brownie at the "thank goodness it's nearly the end of semester" impromptu get together on Tuesday, and to sugar in my pint of lime and soda at the pub...

    This last week was quite busy as we had the external examiners in situ, the most important of the exam meetings, I had my own external examining to do (I get to do mine remotely, for better or worse), and I hosted a meeting of the regional seminar group in my field (which did include an hour sitting outside a pub talking science with a pint of something cold and a couple of hours of eating delicious Turkish food and talking more science, SUCH a treat after a long hard semester). And then the weather turned abruptly hot and I've been quite "heatsick" (kind of the stage before being officially unwell, but I get an upset stomach, hot and cold flushes, random itching, sleep badly, and generally am more irritable in every sense...). But today I finally went to the gym! Not to do much, but I WENT, and that's an important step...

    This coming week is less busy, with just one major work meeting and some research meetings, so I want to spend it creating some order and setting up a lot of smaller end of year meetings (e.g. to review Giant New Module 2, to plan for next year's Giant New Module 1 etc.) before everyone gets really into summer mode. And if the forecast cooldown happens, I want to do some domestic order creation!

    goals for next week:
    1) clear off my desks at home and at the office
    2) condense the various lists on postits and in scrappy bits of notebooks into ONE LIST
    3) send emails about all the meetings on the various lists
    4) outline ProblemChild paper 2 for both parts
    5) resist sugar, go to the gym once

    1. I endorse the decluttering! Half of those shiny objects come from having too much stuff, whether physical or e-mails or unfinished 20-minute tasks. I've embarked on a project that my yoga teacher suggested, a 30-day cleaning-out. Day one, you get rid of one thing, day two, two things, etcetera. I opted to do it in reverse (30 things on day one, 29 on day 2) because I knew I was likely to lose steam as time went on, so I wanted to make it easier on myself. And there have been days when I've had to skip -- my 30 days are probably going to take 6 weeks to complete. But I'm still going, and it's been EXCELLENT for my calm and ability to focus.

    2. Oh, that's an interesting approach! I am naturally messy and an accumulator of stuff - I can walk into a hotel room with a small bag and ten minutes later it looks like I've lived there for a month - and I'll never be or want to be a minimalist, but I easily get all nested in by a lot of little things when I would do far better to make more room for few, particularly worthwhile things.

    3. JaneB, Sounds like you had a very productive week despite busy-ness! And kudos on getting to the gym. Fabulous. I hope you get heat relief this week.

      Notorious, I think your decision to reverse the 30-day de-clutter plan is brilliant.

  4. So the bad news is that I'm having a bit of trouble getting all the plates in the air and in formation this summer (and the short version of the topic is that I should apply the bugge spray to whatever voices are telling me I *should* be able to do that with no real break between the end of spring term and the beginning of summer, and with at least one more plate than wise in the proposed formation).

    Most relevant here, I've done very little to meet my "move more" goal, even by working in the garden (which hasn't gotten much attention since I met the June 1 inspection deadline).

    The better news is that I've had a reasonably productive two weeks: some productive meetings (including at least one w/ TLQ implications) in the week that's now two weeks ago, and three TRQ deadlies in three different domains (pedagogical/grant project, teaching, and church search) met this past week. I also managed to work in a bit of reflection in the last 2-3 weeks (read Martha Beck's _Finding Your Own North Star_ -- which I suspect some others here may have read, since some of the vocabulary sounds familiar -- and Bill Burnett and Dave Evans' _Designing Your Life_, which is newer. I like both of them -- one more psychological, one more analytical, but definitely complementary. Now I need to find/make time to really work my way through some of the exercises in both, since neither is really meant just for reading.

    I also had two good get-togethers with friends (scheduled rather inconveniently on adjacent days, but still -- good).

    And I just bought myself a novel that I have time to read before a reasonable bedtime if I start now. So I'm going to make this short.

    1. Goals from two weeks ago:

      --get pool pass
      --lift weights 1x
      --work in garden 1x
      --pinpoint some potential days off in the June/July calendar, and plan to protect them


      Well, I have the pool pass (as of last Thurs.), and I think I did go to the garden once in the last 2 weeks. I didn't lift weights. I did buy the book, and intend to read it today, and I think there are some other break-windows coming up soon (but probably not this week, which includes a lot of grading). So the task for the week is to fit in some activity around the grading.

      Goals for the coming week:

      --work in some kind of activity -- garden, swim, weights, walk -- on at least 4 days.

      --look at upcoming 2 weeks or so for opportunities for full break days (July 4 weekend should yield some, but can I find another 1 or 2? I really need them).

    2. 4 days a week for moving more is a great goal! I got the advice a while ago to think about the things you loved to do as a kid -- swim, play on the playground equipment, ride your bike, jump rope -- and then find some equivalent of that, because chances are you will *still* like what you liked then, and dislike what you disliked then.

      Which is why I will NEVER be a runner or a team sports person.

    3. Putting some protected "days off" on your calendar sounds like a great idea! Keep lots of Bugge Spray on hand for those days.

    4. Perhaps a 'levitating plate' version of Bugge Spray would help...

      Yes, I think scheduling/blocking out days off sounds like a brilliant idea. Why shouldn't that be as important as all the other stuff that gets scheduled?

  5. Hello,

    What prevents me from writing is, perhaps, my tendency to avoid difficulty. I know I need to work, read and write, but I also know once I start, I must be overwhelmed the amount of work I need to do, and then unconsciously or consciously tend to avoid facing the difficult reality. So, I always say ‘I know I need to start, I know, and I am prepared’, then just say ‘I am busy and I cannot do this and that, I will write my chapter after finishing this.’ It may be just procrastination…

    This week’s goals:
    1) Finish the important book. - not yet.
    2) Revise Chapter 1 - not finished yet.
    3) Revise the outline of Chapter 2 - made a plan. Not finished yet.
    4) Work on the main material on Chapter 2 - I did, and continue to work.
    5) Make it a habit to do 5- minute-exercises several times a day - once or twice.
    6) Find more ‘my own 15 minutes’ - good. I am doing better.

    Some mentally complicated e-mail exchanges took a long time, which I now think I did not really have to do. Somebody wanted me to hear the person’s problem, and asked me what I thought. This kind of things take your time, if you want to be nice (and you usually do, you may need to) and think the problem with the person seriously. But also you need to work. I am now wondering I did the right thing, or I might have wanted to escape from my difficult part of writing and say ‘I was busy, I needed to help somebody, so I will write later.’

    Next week’s goals:
    1) Revise Chapter 1.
    2) Revise the outline of Chapter 2.
    3) Continue to work on the main material on Chapter 2.
    4) Make it a habit to do 5- minute-exercises several times a day.
    6) Continue to try to find more ‘my own 15 minutes’. When I can find my time?

    Have a wonderful week, everyone,

    1. I don't know if this will work for you, but I always find that right after I get up is the best time to write. The mind is as rested as it's going to be, but still uncluttered by the day. When I'm working this most successfully, I decide on an achievable goal for the morning writing session (e.g. "Write two paragraphs on topic X") and lay out everything I will need for that at night before I get to bed. That way, when I wake, there is no fumbling; I can just dive right in.

      YMMV, of course.

    2. That's when I write too. I do better if I put off checking email till later as well. I feel like it allows me to write before I start thinking. It's also why - when I have to work around people - I come in a couple hours before them and just start working. That way the only voices in my head are my own.

    3. You still achieved things - celebrate what did get done!

      I would love to be the kind of person who can organise their lives to write regularly, but work and life don't allow me that very often. When I was a post-doc, maybe, some months, but working in a squeezed middle university just does NOT. But I've gotten a LOT better at writing anyway! You sound very like I used to - that there is a high energy barrier to overcome to get started with writing. So maybe look for ways to lower it, to make it easier to get going, whenever in the day you find a small piece of time to work?

      The method Notorious suggests of leaving your future self an easy way in to the work really helps me - if you leave a note in an easy to find place like the end of the document you are working in of the very next step - even if it's as basic as "now compare this to Z" or "next paragraph will be about pandas" or "next thing - look for a paper about apricots" it kind of lowers the barrier to starting.

      I also use freewriting - I've had a lot of success by starting a new page and writing "I can't get started this morning because..." and just pouring out words, the only "rule" is to write for ten minutes. Sometimes I write a whole line of "because because because..." or all sorts of grumpy self-pitying stuff, but somehow the physical act of writing pulls my mind into alignment...

      Another way to achieve that is to start a writing session by copying the last paragraph you wrote - not copy-paste, literally typing it out again or writing it out by hand (I also switch media from paper to screen or vice versa if I'm really not in the mood) - again it gets your writing muscles both physical and mental moving a little and makes that entry barrier easier.

      The concept of the "zero draft" from "Write your dissertation in 15 minutes a day" was also very helpful to me - writing stuff which is not meant for anyone's eyes is easier to sneak past the voices than beginning even the earliest rough form of something which is meant to go out into the world.

      And of course writing begats writing and reading begats writing - doing _something_ helps ease you into doing the Thing Itself. Once I began to reframe the endless writing I do as an academic which is NOT "the work" - the emails I compose, the memos, the syllabi and weekly handouts and instruction sheets and VLE posts - as part of my writerly life, rather than as hindrances to it, it became easier to switch into working on research stuff in little gaps - a change of pace rather than a wholsesale change of thing

    4. Thank you for your comments and great suggestions! Start writing, e-mails later.
      Free-writing. Bits of notes in the documents...One of the things I like most of this group is many people have concrete techniques to share you can try. I will try. Thank you!

    5. And most of the tips are collected and recycled from other group members - our hive-mind is very good at these things, it's so helpful to be part of it!

  6. My negative habits of mind... I'm easily distracted. By anything. It's like my mind is trying to sabotage me. I never met a shiny object I didn't like.

    Part of what I've done to try to address this is to remove as many distractions as I can. I know myself well enough to know that I can't be trusted with them. I haven't had internet at home for years (I'm typing this from a coffee shop). I removed all social media from my phone, and have set time limits on my work computers. I have no TV. But some days, even that's not enough.

    This is something I'd like to get better at, so I'm going to work it into my list below, since my summer goals included "improve health" in general. But first, this week's goals:

    1. Write 2500 words on hot mess chapter: Well, I got 2278, so close, but I know I can do better. Mostly, the issue was that I spent the week working on...
    2. Finish reading two source collections => I only got through one. But it was rich, and I consider it time well spent. Still, while my writing goal may not have been ambitious enough, my research goal was *too* ambitious. Scaling that one back this week.
    3. 3 Days of yoga + 1 morning meditation => hit that one right on the nose.
    4. Toss or file 30 things => got that done, too. Decluttering always helps.

    So, with all that in mind, plus a need to develop better habits of mind, I'm going to make this week's goals a variation on last week's, recalibrated:

    1. Writing: 2,500 words on Hot Mess Chapter. This will bring me close to the projected word count I need. I'd like to do more, and I think I might be able to, but I want to keep this one achievable.
    2. Research: ONE source collection combed through. This was a very valuable thing this week.
    3. Body & Mind: 3 yoga + THREE morning meditations. This quieting the mind in the morning can only help with the writing.
    4. Decluttering: Toss or file another 30 things, this time tackling the stacks of important documents at home.

    That's what I got. Now, on to read & comment on everyone else!

    1. Whoa! No internet at home! I lost internet for like 5 mins today, and I got the shakes!!! So, do you do all your lit searches when you are in the coffee shop?

    2. I got internet at home when my uni made use of VLEs for modules compulsory - there is no way I am going to get all my teaching work done at the office during semester time, partly because I don't entirely like the building, partly because of the interruptions, partly because if I need to do extra hours (which I do, all teaching semester) I'd rather do them at times which suit me whilst wearing scruffs rather than whilst dressed for work within work hours...

      And I've never got the hang of working at coffee shops, I find laptop use without peripherals (an ergonomic keyboard, a separate mouse, a wrist rest, a stand of some sort to raise the monitor) physically painful plus I worry about liquids, so whilst I do take on-paper work out sometimes, I don't often do serious work sessions... kudos to those who can!

    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    4. I am also amazed by the no-Internet-at-home situation. And no TV! I don't have cable, but I definitely stream stuff. I would probably get a lot more done without these things. Or be more focused/centered.

      But I also love coffee shop time. It's like a little "me time / work time" bubble. I can be very productive at coffee shops (except for the occasional coffee-shop session that includes some weird disruptions and/or interruptions).

      Sounds like a good week, Notorious!

    5. I have no TV and no subscription streaming except what comes with Am@zon Pr1me - and I watch that maybe three or four times a year, when I'm ill? I really don't miss it - I find many other ways to waste time and putter around!

  7. How I did:

    Keep packing. YES
    Keep working on the garden. YES
    Do necessary TRQ stuff like pay bills. YES
    Keep on with the process of getting estimates and scheduling stuff that needs to be done to the house. YES
    Do a bit more about the summer course. YES
    Do some research: 2-3 hours. Try changing venues. SOME: maybe one hour. Did not have time to change venues; just sat down and did a bit one day.

    Comment: Setting process goals means that even little things allow me to say I’ve done them. I put in about 2 hours on the garden; more than that on the house. We now have the market analysis and a long, long list of stuff to do. The good news is that we’re far enough along that it is possible to have a long and specific list, rather than a short vague one (pack all the things, fix all the broken stuff). I fear that we just won't manage to get it together to sell this summer, and we'll have to camp out while trying not to trash the place again before next spring's market, but we'll see.

    New goals:
    House: long list . . . do as much as possible, type the rest of the list and send it to Sir John.
    Teaching: finish Blackboard stuff for summer course.
    Research: plan UK work, answer an e-mail.
    Self: keep up stretching, cardio, weights; dentist, haircut, massage.
    Get on plane Friday night with passport and suitcase.

    Observing the self is far more useful than introspection (noticing what you actually do, vs what you think you want to do), and yet the introspection is calming and helpful: it helps me talk myself out of catastrophizing, recognize that X is “just a thing I do” for various values of X (right now it’s getting anxious the week before travelling), and keep from dumping all my anxieties on friends or husband. So I guess it’s useful, though I also wish I could stop thinking/journaling and just act. My voices mutter at me about being low-energy and ineffective, and claim that I could have done much more during the school year: why wasn’t I packing instead of surfing the web, or at least reading reviews on Angie’s List instead of blogs? But I don’t want, never wanted, to be a housewife (however energetic and effective); I’ve been far too married to this house in particular and I want to divorce it. I come from a long line of farmwives and am related to several contractors/builders, and without ever thinking about it, I absorbed the idea that house maintenance, decor, and ownership are just things adults do, easily. If there had been actual pressure from family, I would have rebelled; the influence, these voices, are far more insidious. I have to keep reminding myself that I am a scholar and a teacher, not a handy-person or decorator, that I am not other family members, and that they could not do my job.

    1. Yay, some good progress! And some really interesting thoughts about houses and house-wifing too. I need to think about that some more - my own sister is very good at stuff like maintainance and cleaning and decorating, and seems to feel very driven to be, whereas its as if I never got that gene... but I do still have some feelings that she is inately more adult and "better" than me because of it.

    2. Yes, the house thing. I have too many friends who have houses that are perfectly put together. I love when I go to someone's house, and it still looks a bit like a college house or (b/c I'm in CA) a surf shack. Makes me feel better and reminds me my furniture and decor are FINE, haphazard as they might be.

      Happy packing and traveling!!!

    3. JaneB---yes, it's that feeling that it's "better" to be more competent w/r/t house things; and I include the more abstract things, like (a) knowing when property taxes are too high and (b) appealing them, when I'm more likely to (a) not notice and (b) not want to deal with the hassle.

  8. I need an extra large can of bugge spray. My head is infested by the little critters that get in the way of any/all meaningful writing. My current and major issue is obsessing more about where writing will go rather than just getting on and writing. I know that the two go hand in hand to a point but when there are options for publication that are less challenging to write, require less research rigour (and consequently less potential 'prestige') sometimes it just seems easier to send things there. I guess I worry about something being rejected from the more challenging venues.

    I sort of did something about this last week: I sat down and listed the projects I had and where the resulting paper might go in the first instance. Perhaps given what I've written above, I should go through and define my plan B as well so I see more clearly the point. Essentially I've worked out a timeline for making progress on them all. The next step is to define the necessary steps for each project and plan that out.

    This week:
    (1) make progress on the printing project.
    - first crack at the screen print is made, the lino block is made, just got to have a go then improve each.

    (2) finish the marking
    - yes, done! Disappointingly there was more than I'd expected because of additional reassessment that no one told me about. I really objected to having that just appear. How difficult is it to drop a quick email to explain what's been allocated?

    (3) make a cake
    - didn't do this. Husband's sulking because of absence of cake.

    (4) make progress on knitting project
    - some progress

    (5) do something with one of my single author papers
    - can I call my efforts in working out where things could go 'doing something'? I think I will!

    This week (and yes, it's simply too hot)
    (1) make cake
    (2) finish writing plan and work on the first tasks
    (3) progress on knitting
    (4) exercise each day - physio exercises and walk of 2 - 3 miles. Yes, irrespective of the heat, do it before 11 am or after 10 pm if necessary!

    1. At some point in a writing project, I make a chart of places I might send it, what their turn-around time is, what reference system they want, what the acceptance rate is, and so on. After studying that, and thinking about my own timeline and other projects, I figure out what my first, second, and third choices of venue are.

    2. Sounds like progress is being made, despite the unreasonable heat - go you!

      Naming the thing in the way is the first step to moving it. I don't know what your place is like, but mine has got really hung up on impact factors and journal quality etc. the last few years even though most REF panels don't put much weight on that, and it's easy to catch some of that. My PhD supervisor used to say that if you never got a paper rejected you weren't aiming at the right journals! But it sounds like you have a method for tackling the issue, so unleash the Bugge Spray!

    3. I love the idea of a chart with those kind of details in it. Thanks DEH!

      The heat is vile but thanks to an older house, the living room doesn't get above 24 deg C which makes it tolerable when the garden is 29. The cat's been hiding in the greenhouse for shade and because it's actually cooler in there!

      Impact factors don't seem to go away. I've been trying to focus on open access journals (without having any budget to pay for shiny gold open access). I'm working on the principle that for pedagogic research, being read is most important.

    4. Very true... and I'm sure my library is not the only one to not have subscriptions to most pedagogic journals I would want to read...

    5. The cost of publishing has just blown me away. I've seen a couple that do article publishing charges around 1000 GPB and then gold open access on top of that and then charges for colour figures. If I had that much money to do research I'd be celebrating by doing more research.

      I know that this isn't a new thing, but I'm used to publishing in professional society journals that cover the publishing costs but there aren't the same range of those for ped res.

      Libraries are so variable, I think I'm comparatively lucky to have access to most of what I need (not necessarily through the current institution, let's leave it at that).

  9. I'm leaving for three weeks in Europe this afternoon, so this is a quick check-in:

    1. Totally finish and print ACLA and Norway; print and organize all travel materials. DONE because it had to be
    2. Totally finish and upload tenure statement and all research-related stuff. DONE because it had to be
    3. First round of revisions to ch. 5 DONE
    4. Read and incorporate last essay for ch. 3. DONE
    5. Survive Saturday's birthday party. DONE!!! "Best birthday party ever," proclaimed my five-year-old, despite the fact that he spent half an hour either crying or hiding in his bedroom.

    I think that having a hard deadline of 6/19 (my departure date) helped motivate me to push through all this work. The next three weeks will be vastly less productive, as I attend/present at two conferences and spend ten days vacationing with my family in Scotland. Yay! I do, however, hope to read through chapter 5 again and begin working on chapter 2, so here will be my post-7/10 goals:

    1. Read through chapter 5; revise as needed
    2. Read through chapter 2 and sketch out revision plan/ideas
    3. Make progress on the Mess At The Heart of Chapter 2 (MATHOC2)

    Time permitting, I may drop in here while I'm away because I so enjoy seeing everyone else's progress (my low comments ratio notwithstanding). Good luck, everyone!

    1. I can't believe Bonaventure is now five!

    2. I am so amazed by how much you got done even with the b-day party pending. During the week of one of my kids' parties, I get hardly anything done. When it comes to such things, I need to learn to focus more and thrash less.

      I hope the conferences, papers, and vacation time are fabulous. Safe and happy travels!

    3. Oh, and with the pending trip, too! I also thrash when trip planning. Maybe when you return, you can share how you compartmentalize preparations for such things so that the rest of your to-do list doesn't get neglected.

    4. Hope you have a lovely time...and that Scotland shows you her good side weather wise!

  10. Whoa, late to the party again. Not getting around to posting TLQ seems to be part of the overall not getting things done. I do an awful lot of planning and writing in my head, but I have not done much writing. So I would like some Bugge Spray to obliterate these blocks and help me get out of my own way.

    Last week:
    1 write 5x: nope
    2 read 5x: yes
    3 finish outline for workshop: no
    4 yoga, even if just 1x: yes

    Analysis: Homecoming included a two-day air conditioning outage and repair, so I’m trying to write off last week and start summer today for real. I ended up dropping out of the workshop because I could not eke out time to work on what I needed to. But I picked yoga poses on a few days and repeated them throughout the day. It wasn’t devoted practice, but it was yoga for all intents.

    This week:
    1 write 5x
    2 read 5x
    3 set summer goals and deadlines
    4 do more yoga

    1. At least reading happened, which is impressive with an air conditioning outage - heat saps everything!

  11. If I need Bugge Spray, it's for guilt. I would say it's for my family, but that seems rude. It's really about the guilt I feel if I take time for myself. My husband is working hard to build a backyard office / writing room / witch hut that is primarily for me, and I am both excited and grateful. But when he's back there constructing, I feel bad saying, "Bye! I'm going for a swim!" or "I'll be back after yoga!" I'm doing the inside purging and moving to separate the kids' rooms, prep for new carpet, etc., but I feel guilty taking time for exercise or writing. So. I don't know. I guess I just need to make sure I'm doing my part inside, and maybe figure out which times for writing will put the least impact on him. Probably late at night, but then I'm too tired. Or I just need to do what I want and spray away the guilt.

    Last week's goals:
    1) Make major progress on the study. Empty desk drawers. Put daybed/trundle online for sale. Take books to office. DONE (except for books to office). Sold the daybed within 36 hours!
    2) Swim 2x. Yoga 1x. DONE. (Well, Yoga 2x and Swim 1x, but I'll count it.)
    3) Write 3x, 15 minutes each. NOT DONE. Just once. Surely, I can find time for this.
    4) Read two short stories (along with other reading). NOT DONE. But started them.
    5) Visit mom. SORT OF. Saw her on Father's Day.

    Analysis: I think I need a clearer writing plan.

    This week:
    1) Finish emptying study and paint it to suit its future resident (my son). This will involve taking a LOT books to my campus office, etc.
    2) Make belated father's day photo album for my dad.
    3) Yoga 2x, Swim 1x.
    4) Read a little of "Bird by Bird." Write 3x for 15 minutes.
    5) Read two short stories.
    6) Visit mom for an hour. Find a night to invite parents over for pizza.

    1. Oh, guilt, yes, so MANY ways to feel guilty! And I don't even have kids and a partner to trigger it (although feeling I SHOULD have them does...).

      A couple of questions - does your husband enjoy the building work, at all? I have a colleague whose method of dealing with work stuff is to build things, he LOVES making things with his hands, so for him it's as much hobby/leisure time as going to yoga might be for someone else. And will he be pleased when your writing clutter is in the hut not in the house?

      Also, remember the old line about looking after your own oxygen mask first - you're a better parent and a better partner if you get to take an hour to keep your body and mind healthy or fifteen minutes to write, and you're both setting a great example for your kids and making it reasonable for your husband to also take an hour for a run or to call a friend or whatever HIS things he needs to do to be his best self are...

    2. Oh yes, the guilt. We've got a bit of a truce about things like building work - husband likes having a project, I'm happy to help with the bits that are essential for 2 pairs of hands, and to offer suggestions if things get stuck. And he helps me with my projects in the same way.

    3. JaneB, yes, there is always easy-access guilt near at hand, isn't there? My husband does enjoy projects, and he is enjoying learning how to build what is essentially a very tiny square house without plumbing, but it's a lot of hard work, he is the type to begrudge others who are not working as hard as he is at a particular given moment. It's always been a tricky thing for us. I was feeling good on Tuesday. I went swimming and no one seemed to mind, but then when I went to yoga yesterday, he seemed to mind. But maybe he didn't? I try to model what I'd like him to do: I encourage him to go surfing, have a "guy's night," etc. I say, "Honey, you should go have fun!" etc." But, ultimately, I think I need to just try not to worry about how such things affect his mood as long as what I'm doing is reasonable. I should just say, "I'm off to yoga!" or "I'm off to swim!" or even "I'm going to go get some tea and write for an hour!" And head out the door with a spritz of Bugge Spray in my wake.

      KJHaxton, it's great that you have a truce. Does he help you if you need to wind a skein of yarn into a ball? :)

    4. Yes he does, he likes holding the yarn. He's less fond of the yarn winder I have purchased because he thinks it is less efficient than me winding it up manually despite understanding that I need to be able to use both ends of the yarn at once (multistrand knitting). And so he complains copiously about that :)

      The truce doesn't always sit easily with me - I frequently feel like I'm not doing my bit because it's often things that are mutually beneficial. But I'm working on it.

  12. Late check in after a couple of weeks out, so I'll try and sum up the last couple of weeks to clear the decks as much as anything:
    Research: Co-wrote and presented grass paper two weeks ago for a symposium in Neighbouring Capital City - possibly stress out me co-author with the last minute-ness but my lord was it nice to writ something that wasn't admin-speak. Did my sections on co-authored curriculum paper.
    In other news, assessed (lots), dealt with the usual array of building/admin/whs panics, opened an exhibition, actually spent time with the kids and friends including seeing art as part of midwinter event, went to bed before midnight.

    Topic: I think the first thing I need Bugge Spray for is buzzy distractions. I tend to fall into overwhelm quite easily, and constant task switching is a habit that I would like to break.

    This week, I will:
    Finish the marking! (not strictly TLQ but will make me feel soo much better)
    Hold 30 mins on Friday for planning, 30 min for reading, 30 min for writing.
    Make a visible change in house or garden (weather dependant) over the weekend.

    Stay hydrated, all you summer folk (or at least enjoy a gin and tonic on my behalf)! For me, I'm holding onto the thought that the light grows from now.

    1. Glad to hear you enjoyed the grass paper and the break from administrivia. I hope those reserved times for Friday help you focus. Maybe you can really try to focus for each of those 30-minute blocks, with no "oh let me just check this other thing" distractions.

      I will totally drink a gin and tonic on your behalf.

    2. Ah yes the pleasure of NOT writing administrivia... one day...


  13. Very late this week, for no good reason...

    Topic: This is interesting, because I'm consciously trying not to push myself on writing this summer, to take time to just be. But the imposter syndrome is the bane of my existence, not helped by (male) colleagues who don't like that my work doesn't look like theirs. I was really struck by the author I'm writing about in Way Outside Paper -- a very prolific and popular mid-century writer talked about living with a demon who “brought darkness and was determined that I should not write books.” She was well into her 50s when she had “a sudden conviction that my demon had left me for good.”

    Anyway, last week:
    1. Do minimal draft of assessment report STARTED, then decided not to
    2. Turn to violence paper READ IT, ILL'd book needed, emailed someone for coments
    3. Walk in the mornings - its about to be fiendishly hot here (40 degrees C, over 100), so the morning is the only time to exercise NO, but I did do a fair bit of garden work. And spent Sat. putting together furniture with a friend.
    4. Read YES
    5. Do at least one fun thing over the weekend SORT OF

    Analysis: I started on Assessment, then realized I didn't know something I needed to write it, there was no one to help me, and so I put it aside. I started on the violence paper -- enough to figure out that it's in pretty good shape, and probably only a day or so of research. But I was offered suggestions from the editor of a journal on what they'd want, and I'm waiting for that. I did start reading, and that's been good. But not enough. I seem to flit, and my admin roles keep coming up to haunt me. Last week I was on campus 4 days, this week I have something every day. Grrr.

    So I've changed tack: I'm going to finish syllabi this week, and push to get comments on the two papers by next week, when hte meetings finally slow down.

    Goals for this week:
    1. Good draft of both syllabi for the fall, and library reserve lists in
    2. Get desk organization back in shape.
    3. Return comments on grad student papers (I graded to get grades in, didn't provide comments)
    4. Get myself moving more.
    5. Keep reading
    6. Do something fun this weekend

    1. Finishing syllabi might be a good move since you're having to go to campus so much anyway. Will that stop soon so that you can get some more time away from campus and focus on other things. I hope!

      And I hope you have good air conditioning!