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Saturday, 3 January 2015

Sign up for January-April Session (introductions, goals, and housekeeping)

Happy New Year, and welcome!

This session of the group will follow much the same format as the last. The ground rules were all laid out in the first post on the blog. Amstr and Susan are co-hosting this session, and we will take turns posting each Friday. (We're both on the US West Coast, so we will be posting a bit later in the day for some of you.) You can report your progress and set weekly goals any time between Friday and Monday.

For this first post, briefly introduce yourself.

Then identify your key goals for this period of time.  As a reminder, these are things that are important but not urgent.  What is important to you, but gets put on the back burner?   For many of us it is our own research and writing; but it has also included exploring different fields or new forms of writing, exercise, gardening, healthy eating, etc.    

In addition, set your first weekly goals (for the week of Jan 12-16). Think about how you can take small concrete steps to make progress on your TLQ session goals.

Suggested format:
Session Goal
Weekly Goal

While we will both post goals below, we will start with brief introductions of ourselves.

Amstr: I am a semi-newly-minted PhD in the humanities, not currently on the job market. I'm working on turning my dissertation into a book as well as on some non-academic writing and editing projects. Much of my life is filled with taking care of my two grade-school-aged kids and enjoying family life on the West Coast. My house is also home to two bunnies, one crested gecko, and one beta fish--none of which are mine, and all of which I take care of.

Susan: I am a senior scholar in the humanities at an R-1 university in the US. I’m currently enjoying a sabbatical, the first in too many years; when not on sabbatical, I have fairly extensive administrative responsibilities, and these have not entirely disappeared. I live alone, aside from the requisite two cats; I also provide some support for my mother, who lives in the same town I do.

Sign up in the comments below. Our first weekly check-in will be January 16. Our final check-in will be April 24. We're looking forward to a productive session!


  1. Allan Wilson: I am a southern hemisphere interdisciplinary female scientist with children. My house is generally busy and the pace can be overwhelming, meaning that important priorities such as self-care are often lost. After three temporary research/postdoctoral positions following my PhD, I now have a permanent position but also lots of TLQ work that I want to finish. I want to acknowledge the support that others have provided for my work, past and present, by finishing projects in a timely but high quality fashion, with less angst.

    Key goals:
    A long list is possible here, but I am going to treat these serially. Work goals: first, to complete a data spreadsheet for the project where my loved collaborator is leaving town for good in around 6 weeks, so we can draft the first paper before he leaves. Second, to do one piece of data analysis (that I have been avoiding) so I can submit the paper FS, a hangover from previous writing groups and a previous postdoc. Third, to submit a long overdue paper with a motivated student – the first task here is to write and revise the first complete draft. Other goals: to exercise regularly, and to eat healthily.

    Looking forward to this writing group- I feel much more rested than I did before Christmas.

    Week 1 goals:
    1. To complete the data spreadsheet
    2. Exercise four days

    1. Welcome! Glad that you'll join us again. I think the transition to a permanent position is always a challenge, because along with the TLQ stuff, there's a whole slew of new TRQ things. In any case, we actually have TWO weeks to our first check in!

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  3. I’m a somewhat-recently tenured humanities scholar in the southwest US. I have an adult child who lives in another time zone, so I am relatively free of parenting responsibilities.

    My goals are going to be process-oriented rather than product-oriented for a change. I have a lot of projects I would like to work on and with hope complete this year. Rather than saying I’m going to finish that manuscript or that proposal or that article, my not-urgent approach is to say that by April I’d like to have a firm habit of writing every day. My second goal is probably best articulated by saying I want be more active, less sedentary. So getting there will mean a bunch of small weekly goals like walking all the stairs to get to my office and going to yoga. Setting those goals and sticking to them is what can make the difference.

    Goals for the first period: I have some TRQ because I will need to turn in spring syllabi and complete a conference presentation by 16 January. TLQ goals: 1. Go through yoga DVD once a week. 2. Finish article with vague deadline. 3. Make substantial progress on article due at the end of the month. 4. Submit rejected creative piece to other journal.

    1. Welcome back, humming42! I hope we can manage as well as you did in the fall.

    2. I like the process-rather-than-product approach; that has often worked for me (and may end up being what I do this semester, too, but I'd really like to finish *something*).

  4. Hello,
    I hope you have enjoyed a nice holiday season.

    I am Matilda. I am a medievalist teaching at a unversity in a non-English speaking country - and probably you find my English somewhat clumsy. My most important TLQ is to write a book, a great project for me, with the help of 'Professor', my former supervisor. My two young children usually come first in my life, so the hardest problem is how to structure mothering and researching/teaching in elegant ways ;)

    Session goals:
    1) To submit an article.
    It will be a base of the introduction of my book. I am going to use Belcher's book of Writing Your Journal Article in 12 Weeks as my guide this time, modifying its weekly plans quite a lot.
    2) To start to research for chapter 1 of my book and start to write the draft.
    3) To exercise regurarly and eat healthy.

    Weekly goals:
    1) Belcher's Introduction, Week 1 & 2.
    2) To read 5 important article.
    3) A progress report to Professor.
    4) To exercise for 5 minutes everyday.
    5) 3 no-snack-days this week.

    Thank you very much for your hosting the last session, humming42, this on-line writing group really helped me to manage researching, teaching and taking care of my family. Thank you very much for hosting, Susan and Amstr this session. It is not easy for me to handle my job both at work and home, but I have been encouraged by knowing that there are many friends who struggle and manage their own demanding life.

    1. Welcome, Matilda. I love the idea of structuring life in elegant ways -- that's a lovely ambition! I usually think I'm doing well if I survive the week, but elegance is even better!

  5. Introduction: see above.

    I've already over-committed for the next few months, and it will be really easy to let TLQ tasks slip away. My big priorities for the session are health and turning my dissertation into a book draft.

    Session goals:
    1) dissertation to book draft complete
    2) exercise regularly, eat healthfully (track these)
    3) declutter 4 rooms of the house (one a month)

    Weekly goal #1:
    1) sketch plan for D2B; 2) D2B first 2 tasks (revise TOC; cut and paste sections in intro and chapter 1? 3) journal 5x/week; 4) exercise 4 times/week; 5) track food every day.

    1. Hi Amstr, I love your three big goals. Decluttering a room a month sounds like a great idea.

  6. Happy New Year everyone!
    I'm a 3rd year tt assistant professor in physical science at a small undergraduate university. This term I have a really tough teaching schedule, and a lot of travel so it is going to be a stretch getting TLQ from being swamped under other stuff. I now completely understand all those posts on the interwebz about year 3 on tt being a really tough one, the first term of it nearly did me in!

    Session goals: 3 submitted papers, 2 (B and C) from thesis and one new project one (D).

    Weekly goal:
    1) Complete draft of paper B
    2) Revise figure for paper A from the last session (still not compete, but very close)

    1. Welcome, Daisy! Yes, the third year is hard - people cut you progressively less slack for being an assistant professor, and you make the transition to new projects. Good luck!

  7. Hello everyone.
    I'm a lecturer at a small university and have a few admin roles. This semester should be a little lighter on the teaching and admin side of things so I'm keen to get some good TLQ habits started before semester formally starts in a few weeks. Unfortunately this semester looks like it has quite a bit of travel in it - nothing too long, just lots of small trips that knock routines out of synch and push urgent work into weekends.
    Thanks to Susan and Amstr for hosting.
    I'm aiming fairly low for my session goals this quarter - I can add more if I get through them but one overall goal for this year is not to set myself up for failure by taking on too much.

    Session goals: Work: 1 submitted paper, 1 submitted ethics form, 1 project plan, Other: enter a photography competition, create 60 hand crafted items (40 of one kind for a specific event), sort out my wildlife garden.

    Weekly goal: (assuming 3 day working week due to travel)
    1. Start transcribing hand written paper text into journal template form and figure out the figures needed.
    2. Find out deadline and requirements for photography competition.
    3. Tidy spare room for decorating (also room that holds the craft stuff so need to decorate before I can start making).

    1. Welcome. Sixty hand crafted items is impressive!

  8. Introduction
    I am a female medievalist turned academic librarian at an R-1 in the Northeast US. I’m going up for tenure in March, so stress is rather high at the moment. I’m mostly an empty-nester, with my two youngest at university an hour and a half away, but I have a neurotic Weimaraner and somewhat needy husband, neither of whom are very good at entertaining themselves. I manage a department, so my work life is more full of administrativa than I would wish; I’m also not very good at saying no or protecting myself or my time. Self-care and sanity are my mantras for the next few months.

    Session Goal
    I plan to catch up with all the doctors’ and dentist appointments I’ve let slide for the past year.I want to be mindful about stress and stress-related eating, hoping to exercise to reduce stress and, as a byproduct, become more fit.

    For sanity, I want to reduce clutter, both in paper and electronically, to be better organized and spend less time frantically searching for things.

    Weekly Goal
    I got word this morning that the article I worked on during the last TLQ group was accepted, with revisions. I want to address all the comments of the first reviewer this week.

    1. Congratulations on getting the article accepted! That's great. I notice your session goals are all not-work related, but your first week goal is actually research related. Do you have a research/writing goal as well?

    2. Oops! Yes, I do have writing goals! *facepalm*
      Revise the article for publication
      Write a presentation to be presented in late March
      Revise a presentation from last year into an article

    3. Congrats on the article acceptance! Great work!

    4. Thanks, Amstr and Susan! It was a huge relief to get that email, since acceptance was crucial to the tenure vote *phew*

    5. Yay, more congrats! What a relief, and great news to start the year with

    6. And congrats from me, too! Impressive that you get the writing finished when you have so much administrivia to do! Well done!

    7. Thanks! It was a lovely start to the year, JaneB, most assuredly. As for getting it done, GEW, I kept thinking of what a friend told me about the dissertation: "done is better than perfect." That is even better advice for administrativa, lol,

    8. Congratulations. that is a wonderful achievement. aw

    9. And yet another congratulations on the accepted article; that is, indeed, a good way to start the year.

    10. Thank you, Allan and CC! Revisions are done and sent! Big sigh of relief!!

  9. So, I've been thinking a lot about my goals, and since I'm on sabbatical right now, in some ways I have lots of time for research and writing. But I need to keep pushing ahead, and I have to pay attention to other things too. So:

    Session goals
    Writing/research: finish substantive chapters, draft intro and epilogue
    Write essay (pre-circulated) for April workshop
    Home: declutter junk room, get rid of old computers
    weed garden, get garden ready
    choose new furniture for living room
    Other: Keep myself moving, and eating heathfully

    Week 1 goals (and week one will end on Wednesday next week, because I'm going away for the holiday weekend to play in a Big City and see family)
    1. Complete revisions of article 3 that I wrote in September, on which I've now had comments.
    2. Read book MS. for press
    3. Write introductory section for chapter to ensure flow
    4. Walk at least 5 days, for 1/2 hour
    5. Weed back walk
    6. Deal with junk pile in kitchen
    This sounds like a lot, but I think it's doable.

    1. It sounds like you're ready to accomplish a lot this session, and it seems to me you've balanced your goals well. I hope the weekend in Big City is a wonderful time!

  10. introduction: I'm a mid-career academic in a squeezed middle university where "management" are currently obsessed with making us more like 'research universities' but the resources, and the kinds of undergraduates who are well-prepared and can thrive without much support from staff, are just not available to us. This is making me very stressed, so much so that one of my goals for the year is to seriously think about escape plans, or change plans. I've blogged a lot about my plans for the year (see e.g. this post) and my over-arching goal for the next four months is to set a solid foundation to have a great surge in research output in the middle four months (I have study leave, which is not the same as a sabbatical, but comes with Expectations of Productivity. Sigh.)

    Session goals:
    * get at least two of the papers I faffed around with in the last iteration at least off to co-authors and preferably submitted. These are Crunchier, Repeater, Neglected Student Paper and Very Late - the first two are the most likely to be done, but any of them will count!
    * make rough drafts (as in, 1-2 pages plus figure list plus chores lists) of Effie the first (the one which was sort of a conference paper), Effie the second (the big ambitious one!) and Brilliant Undergrads Project papers
    * submit 3-4 abstracts to Big Conference (due 8th January)
    * have started a draft of a grant for the deadline in July
    * have an orderly home and office environment
    * have done some fun things, and be healthier and fitter!

    goals until end of next week:
    1) abstracts for conference
    2) 5 minutes every day of house related stuff
    3) 5 minutes every day of some kind of exercise (more is encouraged, I'm trying to set up Seinfeld Chains so that these things are no longer occasional blitzes but are just normal)
    4) work through all the comments on Crunchier, do the easy ones, write a task list for the more complicated ones.

    1. Welcome, JaneB! Though since you started this. . . And I've stolen your idea of Seinfeld chains. Particularly useful for those of us who accumulate stuff, in my case particularly paper.

  11. I am a tenured faculty member in English at a community (two-year) college in California. I am married, have two kids (ages 9 and 11), and I'm trying to finish a PhD thesis (my PhD school is in the UK). My session goals are as follows:

    1) Work 10 hours per week on PhD thesis
    2) Revise two PhD chapters
    3) Write and present conference paper
    4) Pursue various 30-day challenges (see below)
    5) Declutter my clothes, kids closet/toys, linen closet
    6) Maybe additional family goals (kid dates, etc.), but not sure yet

    A friend of mine invited me to a Facebook group focused on 30-day challenges. I decided to participate, and we'll see how it goes. This month, I am challenging myself to drink a 1/2 gallon of water per day, do the NYT 7-minutes workout, everyday, and a couple of other things.

    I have one course release this term (because of a previous overload), so I'm aiming to do at least 10 hours per week on the thesis. I don't think I've ever devoted that much time, but this is the year to focus on the thesis! I would like to focus on some family goals, too, but I also want to give myself permission to be a bit selfish this year as I try to finish the PhD. It might take some time to figure out exactly what I need to do to stay connected to my family while still taking the time I need to get my PhD finished.

    TLQ before January 16:
    1) Cook a Cuban meal for my mom's birthday this Thursday (I've never done this before, but I asked for Cuban cookbooks for my birthday, and this is her repayment!)
    2) Relax during two-day get away with husband (not worrying about work or PhD)
    3) Work at least 10-hours each week on thesis
    4) Reading for Thesis Chapter 2: finish one primary source, re-read another, two secondary chapters
    5) do 30-day challenges (water, 7 minute workout)

    1. Hey, GEW! Glad you're back! This list sounds just the right balance of ambitious and accomplishable. That balance between family and thesis is a tough one. It's hard not to neglect one or the other, and given that the thesis needs some long stretches, it's easy to shunt the family to the side for a while.

      I admire your 30-day challenges. Hope the Cuban meal is delicious!

    2. Welcome! And I want to pick up on something that Elizabeth Ann Mitchell said above. A friend of mine once said that we need to think about the dissertation as a driver's license. After you finish, you keep gaining facility, expertise, etc.

  12. Hi everyone! Thanks for doing this.

    I am an assistant professor at a small private college where I'm awaiting my provost's decision on my tenure bid (everyone else has been supportive, so it should be an easy decision, but. . .). I'm also, somehow, a homeschooling mom and new homeowner who has lots of plans for gardening adventures this year. Finally, I am a writer who really wants to get some headway done on this project I'm currently working on. Since I'm pulled in so many directions, I often panic to get the energy to get things done (and then crash afterward, requiring a lot of downtime). This does not contribute to a happy, harmonious self or household.

    I know enough about myself to know that "getting organized" is not the answer (part of the answer, but I'm just not a person who thrives that way). What I really hope to do this session is develop better habits that will allow me to get things done with as little panic as possible. Specifically, my session goals are the following:

    -think ahead in my classes and grade on a regular basis (which I've calculated means 4 projects or so per day).
    -write scholarship for 1-2 hours per week to get the conference paper I have due in March done with as little panic as possible
    -write on my project regularly, which means about 4/week and entails getting some kind of draft from my notebook to the computer each week
    -develop a meditation habit
    -develop a work out or yoga habit
    -keep on top of gardening projects
    -maintain personal and family happiness through downtime, reflection, and making time for fun

    Specifically this week this means the following:

    -unpack boxes on a regular basis
    -meditate at least once
    -write 4x this week and get draft to computer
    -get ahead with teaching matters
    -1-2 hours on scholarship (reading and writing)
    -spend time with hubby
    -keep on top of decent food habits (especially: always go to work with food)

    Wow, I have a lot to do until then, like putting together syllabi!

    May we all feel inspired and full of good positive energy to get all these good goals done!

    Have a great week everybody!

    1. I like the way you have tried to tame the many things in your life! Have a good week!

  13. Coming in just under the wire (I’ve been mulling/agonizing over goals and priorities and how much I can realistically expect to accomplish this).
    I’m a non-tenure-track Associate Professor at a U.S. R2 with R1 ambitions. Research isn’t required for my job, but I’ve tried to keep up with it at least a bit since I defended my dissertation over a decade ago. For the past 9 months or so, however (more or less since my 50th birthday, and building on a substantial raise that came along with my promotion to Associate the year before), I’ve been focusing on what I call “infrastructure” concerns: trying to get my financial and physical houses (including an apartment and a community garden plot) in order, and to take better care of myself through healthy eating, exercise, and regular sleep. That’s been satisfying, and I’ve made steady if decidedly incremental/slow progress. At this point, I’m torn between making continued progress on the infrastructure projects and feeling antsy about being so long away from my research, which is a good thing in a way – it’s nice to want to get back to it – but also frustrating, since, with a 4/4/2 load (2=summer teaching) , I seem to be able to make something resembling real progress on one or two of the infrastructure goals, *or* on research/writing (while the infrastructure crumbles around me), but not both (with energy and brain space being more serious limitations than time). I’m hoping that at least some of the self-care stuff can become more routinized, so I don’t have to think about it (and perhaps also gain some additional energy/better mental focus in the process), and at least some of the other infrastructure tasks are big projects that, once finished, will take considerably less time and effort to maintain (or at least so I hope). So I don’t think I’m on the wrong track with any of this; it’s just figuring out how to order/prioritize goals and activities.
    This semester, there’s also an additional wrinkle: I’m teaching a big (40-person) general education lit class that offers me an opportunity to work on a long-term professional goal: integrating digital humanities techniques into my teaching. I’ve taught the class this way once before, with mixed success, and know that, to truly take advantage of the opportunity (which may or may not come up again any time soon), I probably need to put about 2x the prep work I usually would into such a class. So I’m planning to do that, and to count It as a TLQ goal, if only to make myself feel better about whatever else I *don’t* get done this semester.

    So, with that extended preamble:

    Session goals:

    --use lit class to experiment with digital-humanities teaching/analysis techniques; produce at least some materials (assignments, activities, student/class projects) that can serve as models that might be applied to other classes, and/or material for presentation/reflection (at least on the professional web page I’m developing, perhaps also in a conference presentation or article).

    --continue developing a daily/weekly routine that includes healthy eating, regular exercise, and regular sleep patterns.

    --make substantial progress on getting financial matters in order

    --accomplish enough at the community garden to satisfy the powers that be; get as many project materials as possible out of apartment/car.

    --as possible, work on getting apartment in order (in particular, building/painting/installing shelves, because that will facilitate a return to research and writing by making materials more visible and accessible).

    1. And weekly goals:

      --on the 4 days I’m working at home, work on establishing a weekday routine, including exercise and a regular bedtime, that can carry in to the semester (which starts the week after next).

      --cook and freeze at least one more pot of soup.

      --think about DH course goals and how I taught last time; explore additional tools/techniques I might use this time; get course site and syllabus done and begin drafting assignments/activities.

      --make progress on apartment organizing, garden fence, or both (choice depends on the weather).

    2. Welcome back, CC! I like your approach of using the teaching project as a way towards some scholarly presentation/ publication. And soup.