the grid

the grid

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Heading into Week 8

This seems to be about the halfway point check in for this particular incarnation of TLQ. It's a travel and conference week for me, along with end of semester crunch coming up soon...reflect and analysis below at will.

Goals from last week:
Allan Wilson: 1) exercise 5x - hopefully including two more challenging sessions at the gym or 5km. 2) complete at least one FS analysis. 3) do clumped rerun analysis on whk. 4) finish revisions on small paper. 5) prep for conference next week.
Amstr: 1) revise job letter and application, contact references; 2) re-read at least 2 chapters of diss; 3) exercise 3x; 4) write 2 hours/day, T-F
Contingent Cassandra: Goal for this week: continued progress on the garden, especially the fence and protecting plants for the winter (we're predicted to get an extended blast of unseasonably cold air later this week; in addition, garden plot inspections occur soon after 11/15, so I need to make visible progress on the fence, and get it to some sort of stopping point.)
Daisy: 1) SEND off paper 1 with nth round of revisions to supervisor. 2) FINISH discussion and methods for paper 2 and start on revised introduction and lit review.
Der Modell Wissenschaftler: No goals posted.
Earnest English: 1. Make Nov 15 deadline. 2. Gardening: plant the garlic bed, weather permitting? 3. Take care of self, especially food and sleep. 4. Be a good professor: get caught up and be prepared. 5. Try to get to yoga? 6. Meditate? 7. 30 min sessions?
Elizabeth Ann Mitchell: 1) Spend an hour a day filling holes and beefing up documentation. 2) 5 more hours on the dossier should get me close to done. 3) Add emotional self-care to the list.
Good Enough Woman: 1) Submit sabbatical proposal by Friday. 2) Read at least 50 pages of primary source. 3) Walk 3x with dog. 4) Order MIL's b-day present.
Ivy: No goals posted.
JaneB: do some work writing, enjoy NaNo, plan for a return to work next week (I had the last couple of days of this week planned as 'my time' anyway, so...)
KJHaxton: (1) Finish the current pile of TRQ early in the week to free up space later. (2) block out daily writing sessions to start working on a couple of papers (3) christmas crafts, eating, drinking etc - all of the 'self-care' and having fun items.
Matilda: 1) Finish the important article and work something to revise my book plan.  2) Write for at least 15 minutes every day. 3) Exercise for 5 minutes every day.
Susan: map out the chapter and what needs to be done; ILL any needed books; and start reading. Walk at least three days. Deal with one pile of paper.


  1. It’s been awhile since I posted goals, which is a sign of the madness this semester. I don’t feel I’ve accomplished much either, although I hope I will feel differently when the semester ends and I can look back on it. Madness is knowing for six months you’ve had a conference paper to present and not making time for it. It’s totally TRQ now, but the goal for the week is definitely to finish the paper proficiently enough to not embarrass myself. I also want to have good balance for conference--panels, retreat time, social time. Finally, muster the courage to talk to an appropriate publisher’s rep about the book project, if such a person exists.

    1. It's always good to talk to potential editors. Good luck - it's really useful to have these conversations because even if it doesn't immediately bear fruit, you get a sense of their questions, and where your project fits. And if it's any comfort, you are far from unique in not making time for a conference paper until the last minute. But you sound quite rational about how you plan your conference!

    2. Thanks, Susan! Your encouragement is deeply appreciated.

  2. This week felt a little less focused than I hoped, but I think I was catching up from my conference travel and lack of sleep. It happened more slowly than I hoped, but I did get going on the chapter, and I think (as of this afternoon) that I see where it is going. I've made a strategic decision about how I approach it, which makes it all much more manageable. In addition to this, I did go walking three days. I even began to tackle a pile of paper. So -- basically a good week. In addition, the major work on my house that has been going since late September is just about done. I have a new front porch! It's very pretty. I'm going to miss watching my contractor at work, but I won't miss the noise of the saw and the compressor for the nail gun. (My office is in the front of the house, so the construction was right out my window.)

    In terms of my goal for this TLQ session, I think I'm doing OK. My writing is going well, but I've done less on the other things I wanted to accomplish around the house. I think I have to accept that these are indeed long term goals. I'll make progress on them, but a bit more slowly than I hope. One reason for this is that I seem to pick up steam on writing and research in the late afternoon, so I end up eating a late dinner, and not having energy for any of the "evening activities" that I thought I'd do.

    As for next week, I have two days of interruption, between my bi-weekly trip to campus for a seminar, and there's a job candidate that day, and a day taking my mother and myself to doctor's appointments in nearby city. But I've mapped out where I'm going, and the two plays I have to read, so if I can read those plays, and write what I need to write about them, I'll be pleased. I want to walk four days, and go through the ginormous pile of solicitations from charities and organize my end of year donations.

    1. Congratulations on your new porch! Sounds like a lovely thing to have done. I'm interested in strategies about how to approach a project--on the whole your post reminds me of the need to be strategic and to always remember that progress is incremental.

  3. Being sick in bed all week really derailed my goals. I didn't realize until Friday when I started feeling better how bad I really felt. I didn't get much done, but I did make a little bit of progress on the job app and writing. Zero exercise. Zero diss work.

    This coming week is a short one for me: my parents were here today to help with house fix-it chores, and we're leaving Friday (a full day anyway) for a weekend away with my mother-in-law and sister-in-law. I'm aiming for minimal, but productive.

    Goals for the week: 1) write 4 hours; 2) exercise 3x; optional: read one diss chapter.

    I've decided to wait until January to turn job apps in and aim to teach a class in Spring Quarter, so I'll wait for more work on it until December.

    Overall, I think I'm behind where I wanted to be with a lot of things, but I've been making progress. I think I'll spend some time mapping out the rest of the year.

    1. Being sick is a total pain! Enjoy the coming week's company and don't stress about work, it will get done if it's important!

    2. Yes...glad you're feeling better, especially with vacation time coming up!

  4. Goal for this week: continued progress on the garden, especially the fence and protecting plants for the winter (we're predicted to get an extended blast of unseasonably cold air later this week; in addition, garden plot inspections occur soon after 11/15, so I need to make visible progress on the fence, and get it to some sort of stopping point.)

    Accomplished: yes (fence posts are up and old fencing is reattached sufficiently well to pass inspection, I think; plants are as well protected as I can manage against coming unseasonable cold).

    Goals for this week: (1) make further progress on fence if weather and schedule allow; (2) make soup; (3) deal with professional-association stuff (TRQ-ish at this point); (4) begin dealing with financial stuff.

    That may, in fact, be too much, given that I'm in the middle of conferencing season (tomorrow, I meet with students more or less non-stop from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., give or take a break for lunch, an afternoon break, and any cancellations. Please let there be at least one cancellation, especially since I have grading to complete before Weds!). There's also probably some Thanksgiving prep to be done (at the very least, I need to do laundry, since the relatives who're hosting me will undoubtedly expect me to show up in clean clothes).

    I may manage to reflect a bit more next week, when things will have quieted down (or at least be about to quiet down) a bit more. For the moment, juggling TRQ teaching stuff with garden stuff that had gone TRQ-ish is about all I can handle.

    1. Good luck with the conferences! Those days can be exhausting. Congrats on all the garden progress.

    2. Ugh, conferences - I have 12 to get through in the next week and it's stressing me out, never mind several classes' worth!

  5. I’m worried that so many of us seem to be getting sick. A dear friend of mine, writing her dissertation and working full time, told me yesterday that she is feeling close to burnout. I know that I am close to sputtering out myself. My constant haunting hope that I can just make it through the tenure vote is waving several red flags in my face. If I am no longer looking past late March, I am in serious trouble! I fell asleep Friday night at 7pm and slept until 10am Saturday morning, which is another sure sign that I am skating on the edge of an abyss.

    I ponder why academicians tend to overextend, as though the rewards were far greater than they really are. My brother (who passed away nearly a year ago) used to kid me about academics fighting over such small stakes, no one else would bother. Sorry for the somber mood, but several members of my family are ill or having surgery, so I’m rather down today.

    On to goals:
    1) Spend an hour a day filling holes and beefing up documentation. Yes!
    2) 5 more hours on the dossier should get me close to done. Yes!
    3) Add emotional self-care to the list. Not yet, but I have tracked down some old friends I’ve lost touch with, and plan to contact them.

    Next week’s goals:
    1) Finish first draft of article by Friday.
    2) Write to my “known” referees to ask if they will write a letter if contacted.
    3) Write or call my friends. Call my sister, who is recovering from thyroid cancer surgery.
    4) Get more sleep, watch less television, and spend more time in conversation.

    1. Congrats on your progress this week!

      I appreciate your thoughts on overextending. I've been considering the job demands vs. my tolerance for commitments as I'm working through career options (for this point in my life and for the future).

      The overextension happens in the corporate world, too. My husband is computer engineer, and he sees people around him who are working crazy hours to further their careers, when it's really the quality of their work that needs to change--they need to handle harder problems, not just a lot more simpler problems. And I talked to another friend in computer engineering who was puzzling over his VP working 16-18 hour days and getting paid way less that the CEO who worked 18-20. The cost didn't seem worth it to him.

      I'm curious what others have to add to the discussion.

    2. Well, first academicians are probably more exposed to contagion than any other group outside of nursery care or medical practices - students travel frequently and bring a wide RANGE of 'germs' back from their trips, probably broader than one would encounter in a school setting, and don't tend to look after themselves well. So getting sick is natural.

      As to the other - it does seem to be endemic. It goes along with the 2-3 different jobs plus being one's own administrative assistant aspects of the faculty member position (and many related positions), I guess, and a lot of the people I know (and people who blog) are naturally quite anxious, a little perfectionist, concerned with doing things as well as possible, not just coasting - and managed by people/systems which behave as if we academicals are out to cheat everyone, so require us to prove that we did almost everything....

      Something I continually wrestle with and am nowhere near solving, or even much improving - I too hope to see some wiser thoughts on the subject!

    3. Academics do a good bit of work on their own, and I think that a tendency to excessive work is part of the picture. And we've been subject to a "speed-up" of ever increasing demands in recent years -- a toxic combination.

      I encourage you in your self-care. Tenure is a sufficiently stressful time in one's life, so figuring out the things to nurture yourself is really important. And I hear lots of loss -- the anniversary of your brother's death, your sister's cancer. This is just hard. So your plans are good.

      I'm impressed by your energy, and your success in meeting last week's goals!

    4. I also encourage you in self care. Our bodies carry us through our lives- we need to be healthy to be our very best. I constantly forget this, but I also know when I sleep well and feel refreshed the world seems a brighter place. AW

  6. I worked my butt off last week and weekend and yesterday. But now that the weather has changed to cold and snow, all I want to do is sleep. All the time. Not that I'm doing that.

    1. Make Nov 15 deadline.: DONE (with a few days to spare)

    2. Gardening: plant the garlic bed, weather permitting? Oh, I rocked the gardening on Sunday. Partner laid out all the raised beds and put the gopher-proof stuff on the bottom. I put the layers of soil, compost, and other good stuff, and then planted the garlic in not one, but two beds! Then I got to try out my new leaf shredder, and I went and vacuumed up leaves and then put them down as mulch on the two garlic beds and a little more on the flower bulb bed I'd made last week. And in perfect timing too: it snowed Sunday night. And Monday. So we got them in just under the wire, though garlic is supposed to have some time to develop roots before the ground freezes, and there's no way that's going to happen. Considering that we moved into the house in August and have been running scared with projects ever since, I think that anything that comes up this spring is gravy. Next year will be a whole different story.

    3. Take care of self, especially food and sleep. #4 and #3 have an inverse relationship. I made dinner twice over the weekend, which is one kind of taking care of myself. Sleep is still difficult. I screwed myself up on sleep last week, but I better not do that or I'll get sick.

    4. Be a good professor: get caught up and be prepared. I did do some vital grading. I am mostly caught up.

    5. Try to get to yoga? Nope. I don't want to leave my house for any reason, much less an optional reason. As soon as I get used to the winter, this may change, but I doubt it. I should get a relaxing yoga tape (Candlelight Yoga??) and do it at home.

    6. Meditate? Nope.

    7. 30 min sessions? Some, but few. I've decided not to feel bad about this.

    Goals for this upcoming week:

    1. A couple 30-minute sessions in preparation for November deadline. Better get cracking!

    2. Start shredding my newspaper and paper for the composter, despite that little will get cooking until spring. Our to-be-composted pile is too large to be outside the composter.

    3. Grading. I now need to grade papers daily, which I hate, but which will keep the per-day rate pretty low. But I have to do it. And make the time to do it. So that's a huge goal this week.

    4. Start collecting Thanksgiving fixings, like the turkey.

    5. Take care of self, including food and sleep.

    6. Be good professor (even though I am SO not feeling it now and just want to be cozy and cook and sleep). In order to not get into some tailspin about not feeling into it and then thinking I'm not doing my job, I've been writing down my work hours (even more important because I'm really using the flexibility of my job right now). I work enough. (I just don't love it enough to feel driven to do it all the time. There's baking to be done!)

    7. Purchase relaxation yoga video.

    4ish more weeks of the quarter. Like my students, I'm counting the days until Thanksgiving, though some of the brighter ones want to get ahead and want me to get stuff prepared for them and OH, I just want to sleep.

    1. Ah sleep, in the snowy dark, sounds LOVELY. "But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep" - that poem always makes me think of the point in a winter's day when it's getting dark, and all your instincts are to sit around a fire, have some soup and maybe a hot drink, and snooze on the sofa or go to bed early, but you still have hours of classes and meetings to go, never mind evening work...

      Being a Good Professor gets hard at this time of year

  7. goals:do some work writing, enjoy NaNo, plan for a return to work next week (I had the last couple of days of this week planned as 'my time' anyway, so...)
    achieved: a little bit (comments and editing on a joint paper with more junior collaborators, some LONG emails with PDF about one of her papers which is having trouble getting past the referees), yes although I had a week 2 slow down, until yesterday when I wrote NOTHING AT ALL. Coincidentally or NOT yesterday I began seriously preparing for my return to work, redrafting syllabi, finishing off some grading, trying to get classes prepared for the rest of this week etc. I blogged about going back over at my usual place. I really don't want to, and struggle to know if that's because I'm not physically fit, mentally fit, idle or just that close to burnt out....

    Like Earnest English, I am counting the weeks to the end of semester (5, counting this one, possibly with a conference although I may have to pull out for sanity's sake), and wanting to huddle up in the cosy dark with chocolate and a good book and lots and lots of napping...

    goals for next week: first and foremost be kind to myself. Make time to NaNo or crochet, read something fun for half an hour, pet the cat - the world won't end if I do these things and turn up to class less than perfectly prepared. Secondly, a brutal triage on what might get done before Christmas and when it might get done. One factor in the conference-decision might be if it looks like 2-3 writing retreat days can get some key pieces of work back on course, because right now that matters more than going to this particular conference... I think... well, we'll see. Maybe go to the conference, attend a minimum number of sessions, and spend the rest of the time in my room writing! (although, I doubt the room will be good for writing in for a variety of reasons). For this week, survival and TRQ have to take priority though.

    1. Good luck with survival and TRQ - those weeks are inevitable, especially this time of year when illness takes over.
      I would vote for going to the conference, minimum sessions only for fun and inspiration and write somewhere for a change of scene. Sometimes that is a nice jump-start fr progress for me.

  8. Sorry for not checking in last week… I've been trying to run a fairly major experiment which is actually going quite well however… over the weekend we were attacked by a swarm of biting midges. Turns out I'm allergic to them - my lower legs are a mass of bites which are on fire, so can't sleep and hurts to walk. They've formed giant blisters and since I can't bear to have anything touching them it all looks quite attractive…

    Anyways, goals posted in week 6 (some achieved in week 7)
    1) more endless data analyses - yup, can't really get out of these!
    2) three lots of 30 mins on the Discussion of Paper 2 - did two lots
    3) Three lots of exercise - two and then got attacked and it hurts to move
    4) something fun! - well yes but that hike resulted in the midge attack!

    Next weeks goals
    1) survive and try to get some sleep!
    2) finish experiment - colleagues have actually been surprisingly helpful here (for one of them helping me is a great form of procrastination!)
    3) Two lots of 30 mins on Paper 2 and comments on former technician's paper

    Last weeks topic: the one thing I think I need in general is appreciation for my efforts. In general I feel I put in a lot of work and no one really cares/notices. I feel more acknowledgement would go a long way to help my motivation! I don't have thoughts on how to get it though…


    1. Awful bugs!!! Not pleasant - hope that clears up quickly. And enjoy the experiment!

  9. Late and frazzled...

    Last week's goals:
    FAIL on all fronts, Not even going to recap them, just transfer them straight to this week.

    This week's goals
    1) SEND off paper 1 with nth round of revisions to supervisor. 2) FINISH discussion and methods for paper 2 and start on revised introduction and lit review.
    3) Back-up goal, any work on either paper would be a win...

    The week was a complete write-off for TLQ - the urgent TRQs took over everything when a huge new project received the go ahead (a grant that is huge for me) but with a 4 month time line before the money goes poof. So I've been scrambling to get started on it and make sure everything is done really well. Sample preparation, lab bookings, travel arrangements, students, most seems ok so far. Had a complete melt-down about "what kind of idiot thinks I can do this sort of project etc." in the middle of it, but my saner side in combination with the big project boss talked me off the ledge quite nicely...

    Reflection at halfway - the truly TLQ stuff is making progress but not enough. The papers are better, but not good enough yet. So the theme for me at this point is definitely "not good enough"... But there are only a few weeks left in the term and I think I can do a good bit in the next 2 weeks especially. So, onwards and upwards I guess??

    1. congratulations on the grant! AW

    2. Glad you were able to hush that ridiculous voice in your head that doubted your ability to get it done. There's definitely a connection here to the discussion above about taking on too much, why we do, and how readily we overburden ourselves. Wishing you lots of space and time for this project.

  10. A very late check-in for me, just back from the conference, but I will do it because it helps me keep it on top of things- well in reality, panting behind, but not too far behind. Last weeks goals:
    1) exercise 5x - hopefully including two more challenging sessions at the gym or 5km. - complete disaster. I am feeling really depressed about how hard it is to exercise, and I am putting on weight
    2) complete at least one FS analysis. Discussed with co-author, and a whole lot of work done, but not completed. Still hanging over me.
    3) do clumped rerun analysis on whk. No. Just. no. time.
    4) finish revisions on small paper. Completed- and resubmitted. I am crossing my fingers for an acceptance.
    5) prep for conference next week. Done, and talk went well.

    New goals, bearing in mind I am away again for 3 more days this week.
    1) eat chocolate on no more than 3 days
    2) try and finish writing draft of whk paper, even without the new clumped analysis
    3) prep slides for someone else's talks this coming week.
    Halfway reflection - not enough progress, but things are so crazy full on at the moment I am essentially just gritting my teeth to get through. And I know from past experience that small incremental gains do add up eventually. I just have to keep ticking them over. So that is what I will keep trying to do.
    Allan wilson

    1. Yes yes on small increments adding up! I think that's part of the reason for this weekly ritual. Glad to hear your talk went well!