the grid

the grid

Friday 3 April 2015

Something borrowed, something blue

Two weeks ago we dealt with our session goals (something old), and last week we looked at what we’ve added this session (something new). Today, I offer something borrowed and something blue, two different ways of checking in. The first focuses on your emotional relationship to TLQ at a given moment. The second focuses on seeing variety in your week, noticing small things, and being a bit playful in looking back.

Pick one or share a way you find helpful to check in with yourself:

something borrowed
This is borrowed from the Social and Emotional Learning component of my daughter’s second grade class, and I’ve found it a useful exercise for myself, especially when I'm avoiding a task.
Temperature taking: On a scale of 1 to 10 (one being not interested or motivated at all, ten being completely jazzed) what’s your TLQ temperature? Why? What would it take to move your temperature to a 9 or a 10, or up just a notch or two?

Example: I'm a 3 because I'm pretty discouraged. It seems like week after week I'm carrying over goals that I haven't met. I could move myself up to a 5 or 6 by turning my word count goals into time goals.

something blue
This is how I’ve checked in with my kids after school since preschool so I don’t get answers like “fine” and “nothing.”
Tell us things from this week that fall into these four categories: happy, sad, [pick your own goofy adjective: prickly, silly, soft, amazing, putrid], and blue [or pick your favorite color].

Example: Happy: the sun was out on Wednesday and I took a lovely walk. Sad: That pesky journal article I was hoping to be done with got an R&R. Prickly: I bought a succulent to put by the tiny cactus on my desk. Blue: I just finished reading Where'd You Go Bernadette, and it has a blue(ish) cover.

Just a reminder of the check-in format:
-last week’s goals
-this week’s goals

Last week's goals:

Allan Wilson: (goals for the fortnight; on holiday)
1) exercise twice (in addition to what I do on holiday)
2) finish draft article for non-academic source (2 weeks overdue)
3) meeting that was scheduled in the last week on FS, or progress on its analysis problem.
4) complete new draft ms WHK that incorporates co-author additions, and send back out to co-authors

1) exercise 4x
2) decluttering 3x20 min.
3) write 3x30 min.

Contingent Cassandra:
(1) continued self-care, especially exercise (try out some early-morning walking, weight-lifting and/or the shoulder rehab exercises I just looked up); (2) make substantial progress on taxes (TRQ-ish, but also TLQ-ish for the reasons mentioned above); (3) at least one and preferably two garden work sessions; (4) a bit more apartment cleaning/chaos-reducing if possible.

1) Draft B complete
2) Read papers and make plan for new project
3) Start conference poster and think about presentation
4) Run when I feel better

Earnest English: ?

Elizabeth Ann Mitchell:
1) Make doctor’s and dentist’s appointments.
2) File into paper files for a half hour at least twice.
3) Organize the next three months of calendars and to do lists. Print planner pages and take notes where necessary.

Good Enough Woman:
1) email supervisor with timeline
2) walk at least twice
3) set up son's new minecraft stuff (I set up an account, and I today I bought a new game program, and now I have to figure how to save existing worlds, uninstall the old program, and install the new).

1 Make sufficient progress on both conference papers to send something to respondents.
2 Deal gracefully with service overload this week.
3 Spend time with creativity project check-in.

JaneB: ?

Kjhaxton: (for 2 weeks from now)
2) plan the two articles that I will write
3) plan publication/presentation around small aspect of current teaching so that I can put an evaluation plan in place to get a good paper
4) make figures for the paper

1) Week 6-3 of Belcher's book. Construct a better structure.
2) Continue to read the important book.
3) Prepare for the classes.
4) Do short exercises between pomodoro chunks.
5) If I want to have some, have healthier snacks. Remember that I always have spots when I have chocolate.

1. Submit application letter and cv
2. Send draft proposal to grant agency
3. Get back to abandoned book review.
4. Send of paper for conference (that's really TRQ now, but I'll list it anyway.)
5. Walk or garden at least three days

6. Do more work on garage organization


  1. Thank for this cool check-in, Amstr. Both of these are helpful because they push me to think at the core rather than in an abstract, gracefully-worded way. My TLQ temperature is around a 4 right now. I am excited about the projects I have in front of me, but I am troubled by my inability to figure out what keeps me from engaging them. I feel like I need to come to terms with my relationship to research and writing. I don’t want to be the person with all the neat ideas and nothing to show for them. That’s the last person I want to be! I could move myself up to a 6 by carving out time for daily writing beyond journaling. Journaling is nice, but it doesn’t get me closer to my writing goals except indirectly.

    Happy: I’m so excited to go to a favorite conference with old friends. Sad: Interpersonal conflict has been dominant in my life for the past two weeks, and I don’t know what the outcomes will be. Soft: I am working to be thoughtful about self-care. Blue took me to Elvis singing Blue Christmas.

    Last week:
    1 Make sufficient progress on both conference papers to send something to respondents.
    2 Deal gracefully with service overload this week.
    3 Spend time with creativity project check-in.

    I haven’t made enough progress to send to respondents but I will get both papers done before I leave for conference later in the week. Service overload was fine--I didn’t do one of the things I need to, but I will. The creativity check-in was strange--I didn’t discover anything new, just affirmed that I know the projects I want to work on and there are probably too many of them.

    This week:
    1 Present finished, professional-sounding conference papers.
    2 Catch up on grading.
    3 Indulge in self-care.

    1. Definitely indulge in self-care! Although why we think of it as indulging, when it's foundational to achieving any of the other things, I don't know...

    2. I hope the conference is fabulous and is a nice respite from interpersonal conflict.

    3. Yes, have a wonderful time at the conference!

  2. I didn't set goals last week because off work sick so not supposed to be working, and general 'grah-hate-everything-ness'! Have had toddler tantrum, now looking for my Big Girl Panties and professional attitude again (looking for, not actually FOUND yet)... so a slightly silly topic is perfect.

    temp-taking My TLQ temp is about a 2. For reasons, see rants at blog - basically PEOPLE ARE ANNOYING and EMOTIONS ARE ANNOYING. Raising it - well, I'm going to change what I'm working on to a piece of research which is further from publication but where for the moment it's just down to me what happens and when it happens, and I can make progress in little clearly defined steps. Just avoiding the people/emotions stuff for a week seems like a good way of getting back to at least a 4 or a 5!

    something... happy reading four mind candy novels (Queen's Thief series) in two days, with Easter candy on the side - getting back the ability to sink into a novel without guilt was delicious! sad student project drafts - I taught these guys 'skills' classes, and their graphs are awful, no axis labels, every colour under the Excel sun, dots joined where they shouldn't be, lines used instead of scatter plots - all over the shop. Makes me wonder what I did wrong, and what the point is, if they can't transfer something as SIMPLE as making a labelled graph from context to context. And oh dear, if this is the standard of graduates we're sending out into the world (this group graduate in July this year), we are failing. :-( tasty (OK it's not that goofy but...): toasted hot cross buns with full fat butter - Easter delight! green (my favourite colour) delicious top-brand kiwi-apple smoothies on a very cheap special offer at the supermarket - a proper healthy pleasure, what a treat!

    last week's goals: none set. But I finished and sent off the latest draft of the paper I called Repeater to co-authors for comments!

    this week's goals: complete feedback on and return all the project drafts I have from students (3 to go, plus three which may come in during the week - one legit extension (funeral of close kin), one semi-legit (multiple two-day graduate job selection panel events), one not legit (student had samples in October, began work on them in February, is somewhat behind)) and write a plan for Very Late, the paper I'm shifting my attention to (I should give it a more positive name, right?).

    1. Congratulations on getting repeater out the door! And (as someone who works in the humanities, so doesn't usually have to depend on others) you are smart to turn to a project that you control!

      And I want those hot cross buns!

    2. Ditto to all of the above.

      Also -- colleagues reporting back from a major national writing-teaching conference earlier this month commented that "transfer" seemed to be the word of the year, so it's not just you. Whatever isn't happening, it isn't happening in multiple places.

    3. Congrats on sending off Repeater! And I know that people say avoidance is bad, but I often find it helpful (in those cases for which avoidance helps an issue soften rather than fester). Here's hoping your avoidance strategies are helpful.

    4. Many well wishes headed your way. I hope the week brings you some respite.

  3. Temperature:
    TLQ level is probably hovering around a 6 or 7 in the light of day, I feel like I'm making progress. However, the moment I look at the paper I'm revising (B above) it plummets to a 1 or 2 because I just don't know what to do with it, and it is such a huge mountain to get over that I'm not sure I have any business even trying... So to raise that the only way is to just do something because the mountain will get smaller, even if I feel like I'm digging at it with a plastic teaspoon... Because it does feel good when you are done!

    Silly (Love this system btw!)
    Happy: Nice Mommy-daughter time over weekend, and some good running.
    Sad: Marriage/Finances/Future.... Being an adult really sucks sometimes....
    Sweet: the nice stash of good chocolate!
    Blue (and purple and yellow and every other colour in the universe): the almost 400 paper Easter eggs my 5 year old and I decorated over the weekend - she just didn't stop, every day day had a few hours of drawing patterns on paper eggs... I stopped counting sometime yesterday!

    Last week's goals:
    1) Draft B complete NOT EVEN CLOSE -
    2) Read papers and make plan for new project DID SOME
    3) Start conference poster and think about presentation DONE
    4) Run when I feel better DONE

    This week's goals:
    1) Paper B - just do it dammit!!!
    2) Come with experimental plan and timeline for summer and new project
    3) Run

    1. That's a lot of paper easter eggs!
      Good luck with moving on paper B. You're right. You dig away, and something happens, slowly.

    2. Sorry for the sadness, and yay for all of the color! And it's wonderful that you're at a 6 or 7!

  4. Something borrowed, something blue (or in my favorite color, purple).

    My temperature for TLQ is probably about a 4. I feel, as some of you have already said, as though I am treading water, paddling away and going nowhere. However, to be honest, I am suffering from burnout. I have written three articles since September, and I am just tired of it. Okay, enough whining.

    If I were just to stop for a minute and organize, declutter, calm my mind, and think, I’d probably feel as high as a 7 about TLQ. I’m really a puppy chasing my tail, and just must stop.

    What is purple in my life? A few things, actually. I organized my files of dissertation materials, and found myself reading some of them. It was a nice, warm, lavender feeling that what I’d written wasn’t all that bad. I also got the results of the department vote, and it was unanimously positive, a nice deep plummy feeling. Finally, it was above 50F today. Everyone was walking around campus in their shirtsleeves. A very nice warm, rosy purple there!

    Last week’s goals:
    1) Make doctor’s and dentist’s appointments. Nope. Can you tell how much I dislike making these calls?
    2) FIle into paper files for a half hour at least twice. Yes, and I truly hate filing. I took it as a chance to stand and move around my office, which I desperately needed to do.
    3) Organize the next three months of calendars and to do lists. Yes! I printed out the passion planner, and pulled together all the little scraps of paper I write things on (driving my DH crazy), and transcribed them all into my planner.

    Next week’s goals:
    1) Make doctor’s and dentist’s appointments.
    2) File into paper files for a half hour three times.
    3) Fix the first 20 footnotes in the dissertation.

    1. I'm also avoiding a dentist appointment :)

      Also, you are in the middle of a tenure review -- that's great news about the department vote, but that's incredibly stressful, so it's very hard to keep going at a constant level. So my bet is that you're right that you need time to stop, organize, and calm your mind.

    2. Congrats on the department vote; that's a major milestone (though with more to come, I realize). And on re-reading the diss and liking what you have.

    3. Three cheers for all of the thumbs-up votes for you. Glad that gave you a good feeling. And since you're written three articles since September, no wonder you're feeling some burnout.

      Since next week's goals include dissertation work, does this mean you're going for PhD completion? It's your second PhD, right?

      And, as I've said before, I am SO with you on the doctor's appointments. Everything about them is unpleasant: the calling, the carving out time to go, and the things that happen there. But I called today for an appointment next week! An unpleasant appointment at that. You can do it, too!

    4. Thank you for the congratulations, Susan, Cassandra, and GEW. Actually, GEW, this is my first Ph.D.

  5. Love this method.

    My temperature is probably about 7 or 8. I've been making progress on non-essential projects, and it feels good.

    Something blue (which is my favorite color): I'm happy that my mother's recovery is going well; I'm sad that I am dealing with a potential conflict with a colleague who I've thought of as a friend; frizzy because last week was crazy; and blue - well, it was Easter and it was good.

    But really, last week was insane: there were three major deadlines, and I was driving 120 miles round trip every day to be with my mother in the hospital. I made it, got everything in more or less on time, and my mother is doing well. But even getting a brain going was hard.
    Goals for last week:
    1. Submit application letter and cv DONE
    2. Send draft proposal to grant agency DONE
    3. Get back to abandoned book review. NOT DONE
    4. Send of paper for conference (that's really TRQ now, but I'll list it anyway.) DONE
    5. Walk or garden at least three days - yes, I think I managed that
    6. Do more work on garage organization - done, and once I get rid of the junk (city cleanup is this weekend), it will feel *really* good. And I'll be able to get rid of MORE!

    The week ahead includes a conference of which I'm part host, and my mother is in the rehab hospital still, so there's a certain amount of to and fro. It will be a lot easier when she gets home, but that date isn't set.
    1. Finish bill paying and financial organizing
    2. Finish book review
    3. Go back and re-examine one of the problem chapters and see if I can do some quick fixes.
    4. Keep walking or exercising. (We may have rain tomorrow, which would hamper the walking, but I can exercise still.)

    1. Glad your mother is recovering well. That's the sort of major concern that makes it hard to focus on anything else (but it seems like you're doing pretty well nonetheless).

    2. I'm amazed at how much work you completed while also visiting your mother. Wow! I hope this week goes okay.

    3. Congratulations on so much done! Best wishes to your mom on her recovery, and to you in all your travels to visit.

  6. Topic (borrowed): probably about a 5; the spirit is willing but the time is very, very limited. It's that time of year, when the work-work really takes over. There are some things I really need to remember to do earlier next year (annual report, taxes) -- but of course I said that last year, and thought about it in January, and there are reasons (many of them good, some less so) why I spent time on other things instead.

    Last week's goals: (1) continued self-care, especially exercise (try out some early-morning walking, weight-lifting and/or the shoulder rehab exercises I just looked up); (2) make substantial progress on taxes (TRQ-ish, but also TLQ-ish for the reasons mentioned above); (3) at least one and preferably two garden work sessions; (4) a bit more apartment cleaning/chaos-reducing if possible.

    Accomplished: (1) intermittent self-care (and intermittent failure to exercise very good self-care, especially in the eating and sleeping departments), (2) barely; (3) not yet; (4) not really.

    Goals for the coming/this week: (1) self-care, (2)some garden work, (3) taxes!!!!

    1. I'm with you on the taxes! And I have two other big items due that day. I hope the self-care goes well this week. Even just a few minutes here and there can do wonders.

  7. Cool check in, Amstr!

    Temperature: 4.
    I'm glad I have the group, but it's been difficult to make progress because of workload and general fatigue. And I keep skipping timely check in, probably b/c I'm not reaching my goals. Also, my goals were focused on writing, and it turns out I've been doing more reading and mental framing of my dissertation chapters instead. It's easy to feel as if this work isn't very productive. I think this week's stay cation might help me get up to a 6 because I've gotten some important things done, and I've gotten some extra sleep.

    Something persimmon (my favorite color): I got a new purse! I ordered it from Zappo's and it's awesome (and has some persimmon-type colors).

    Something happy: Had a great mommy-daughter day yesterday

    Something "still": We decided to skip our spring break trip and just have a stay cation. It was a good decision.

    Last week:
    1. Send timeline to supervisor: No.
    2. Walk 2 times: Just once, I think.
    3. Set up Minecraft account for son. YES!!!

    I will wait until this weekend to set new goals since this week is almost over. At that point, I'll also list a few good TLQ things I did this week.

    1. Woohoo for the Minecraft account! I find anything Minecraft related rather taxing. And another woohoo for a great mommy-daughter day! And for a new purse! And a staycation! Lots of things to celebrate.

    2. Reading is so important. And so is thinking. But it doesn't fit into word or page counts.

  8. Sorry for the silence and delay in checking in. Easter happened, and then a camping (really glamping) trip right on its heals. And I realized today that I have two major projects plus taxes due next Wednesday, as well as a few other more minor things in the midst. AND we've got a weekend away for my dad's birthday starting mid-afternoon tomorrow. AND it's my kids' spring break. They are getting to do a ridiculous amount of screens.

    Temperature: Like CC, I'm about a 5--willing spirit, not enough time. I think once Wednesday has passed, I'll be in better shape.

    Happy: a lovely and easy easter dinner with dear friends.
    Sad: Taxes. (really that TRQ snuck up on me)
    Prickly: the pins my daughter and I are using to make saddlebags for one of her bunnies. It's her dream to dress up her rather skittish rabbits.
    Green: the grass surrounding our tent cabin, kept that way by the rainstorms both nights.

    Last week's goals:
    1) exercise 4x--yes
    2) decluttering 3x20 min.--yes, but massive TRQ cleanup for easter
    3) write 3x30 min.--more or less

    Goals for this week: survive.

    1. Good luck on the week ahead! Sounds crazy!