the grid

the grid

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Week 3 checkin

Hello everyone, hope you all had a good week!

This is a little late because my home internet went off five minutes after I walked in the door last night and has only just come back - there again an internet free Friday night and Saturday morning was a great reason to read a novel on the back doorstep in the sun after breakfast this morning, so your late check-in was my very pleasant start to the weekend!).

Topic: expecting the unexpected
Last wekk, karenh said: "I really need to stop planning my weeks as though everything will run smoothly and that I will be super-efficient at all times because those things never happen." This clearly struck a chord with others, GEW suggested adding 30-60 minutes to each day's plan for 'unexpected' things.  I actually compared my diary and my done list for a couple of  weeks during the teaching semester and reckoned that typically 3 hours of my day were spent on 'unplanned' things like talking to colleagues, dealing with email, "fire-fighting", opening the locked committee room next to me office for people who had it booked but didn't have the right key (it seems mean to make them walk all the way back to the front desk for a key when I have one and when I've already been interrupted, but it does add up...). 

So, this week, let's talk about planning for the real world. Do you divide your list into 'must' and 'would like to'?  Do you manage to plan about the right amount of work, or are you an eternally disappointed optimist?  Have you any tips to share?

Building such semi-predictable 'unexpected' into your planning was one of the very useful suggestions from one of my favourite "self-improvement" books, 'How To Do a Great Job and Go Home On Time' by Fergus O'Connell - I partly like this book because it begins by pointing out that time management courses (and efficiency rhetoric) tend to be based on the flawed premise that you CAN do 'all the things', whereas that just isn't true.  It emphasises working out priorities, planning your time realistically, and valuing and making space for your non-work life, and includes advice on how to handle the inevitable push-back from other people when you need to say no to stuff.  It's 'spin' on the 'Getting Things Done' folders idea is great - it suggests daily folders for tasks etc., but also suggests that you put the number of hours you have for planned tasks on the front of each - so if I work an 8 hour day and know I typically 'lose' two hours to unplanned tasks, I put 6 hours on the front - then every time you allocate a task, you deduct the time it will take... (so I have class, deduct 1 hour (5), I need to mark these essays, deduct 2 hours (3), I have a meeting, deduct 1.5 hours (1.5), I need half an hour to write, deduct 30 minutes (1)) - you get to zero AWFULLY quickly, but that helps you make realistic lists - and days that go well, when you either get to leave early or to start an item from the NEXT day's list, can be very satisfying.  Of course, I can't use the system consistently, because I never use ANY system consistently, but that is my problem not the systems'!

Here's a reminder of the standard format for check-ins:

1. comment on the week's topic, when there is one
2. report your progress against last week's goals
3. analysis (optional): analyse what happened, what went well, what came up to derail things, note what you learnt/want to change, ask any questions of the rest of the group if you want some tips or suggestions
4. planning (optional): something about the coming week: what the priorities are, what issues are going to present challenges, what the framework for your goal-setting is
5. goals for the next week (or multi-week period until your next check-in)

Goals from last week:

allan wilson (goals copied from week 2 checkin)
1. Exercise four times
2. encourage myself toward goal one
3. Make a list of tasks for CR

Amstr
(goals copied from week 2 checkin)
1) write 3 days
2) rough drafts of 2 job apps
3) gather info for letters of rec; email Kind Advisor
4) exercise 3x 

Contingent Cassandra:
1) get into a more regular exercise habit, especially swimming and walking (preferably both, but at least one, each day)
2) make progress on financial paperwork
3) get in touch w/ friends re: getting together; try to figure out how to stay in touch w/ family members in middle of delicate situation


Daisy:
1) Finish text edits on lingering paper L2
2) Send L2 to helpful readers
2) Find all field gear, and buy anything needed - do not leave until next weekend!
3) Set up research students to work without me
4) Keep up reading project

Elizabeth
1) Read and take notes on one article.
2) Walk for half an hour 5 times.
3) Try out two of the healthy recipes, to see if I can fool the men in the house.

Good Enough Woman:
1) Finish prepping for daughter's b-day. (This includes repainting a piano bench I found on the side of the road. I'm going to do it up in fun colors.)
2) Be present for the kids during this "mommy week" while hubby is gone.
3) Each evening, set a schedule for the next day.
4) Exercise 4 times (swim at least once).
5) Finish re-reading primary source.
6) read two articles or book chapters
7) purge boxes of stuff from the cabinets of the bathroom that hubby demoed.

humming42:
1) FInish Em Proposal and send off.
2) Finish teaching-related task from spring.
3) Bring in books from the garage.
4) Begin 10 minute mindfulness pledge (do some mindfulness activity for ten minutes every day).

iwantzcatbocl (goals copied from week 2 checkin)
1. Make outline for June
2. Do fieldwork
3. Write some on Tuesday and Sunday (at least two hours).
4. finish some admin
5. try to be patient with grad students

JaneB:
1) complete all marking leftovers from the semester 
2) check out a technical problem with a dataset in the lab, and correct the spreadsheet and analyses as necessary
3) Go through the notes from the workshop and email as necessary, put in workshop expenses claim
4) keep a mood and self-care diary, to collect data 
5) work through the comments on Crunchier and if time Crunchier's Little Brother
6) bed before midnight!

karenh:
1. P1 Admin list and as many items as can be knock off in a hour.
2. P2 Make a list of possible journals that Embodied paper could find a home in, 15 min writing 3x week on it.
3. Bed alarm clock continue
4. Try physio exercise in office 4 x week


kjhaxton (goals copied from week 2 checkin)
1. Finish as much marking as possible, what is not done by home time Thursday will be done on Wednesday.
2.  continue the list making and planning habits,
3.  start to write a small amount each day.

Let'sDoThis:
1. Submit the article. sub-goals: reformatting into Chicago style, completing manuscript study at the archive, cleaning up prose, completing work-in of survey results, and sitting on it for a day or two
2. Re-read books 1 and 2. I plan to do this as a way to take breaks from finishing up the article. I might just have to give up on this one for the week, though.
3. Attend an award ceremony. I'm delighted to report that I won a teaching award! Yay!
4. Welcome my sister to town! She'll be here for two weeks. The plan is that this will not disrupt my writing goals. We shall see. Can't say I'll care too much if her visit does disrupt the goals. :)

Matilda:
1) to make a plan of the revision of Chapter 1.
2) to read two important articles. 
3) to exercise for 5 minutes when I have time. 
4) to have less sweets, less snacks at night.


Mercy:
a. grade student posters w/colleague (try to be quick about it!)
b. attend talk and take speaker to dinner
c. grade MA res props
d. delegate/ignore/say No to all other tasks that randomly crop up this week
e. find time to work on HA paper each day, w/goal of SFD for writing group

Susan:
1. Get rough draft of introduction finished. This is rough -- it may include places where my paragraph says the equivalent of "Here be dragons", but it should be sketched so that I can fill in the blanks.
2. Write editor about my book
3. Write editor about collection of essays
4. Write potential contributors
5. Make a bunch of phone calls
6. Get ticket for my mother's travel this summer
7. Book B & B where I'll take a few days of real vacation
8. Walk at least 4 day

43 comments:

  1. I tend to do a pretty sad job of scheduling, even when I make it a focus of figuring out how to manage my time. For example, I recently printed out a week page grid from the Passion Planner (the designer kindly offers this is a trial), where the days are broken down into half hour increments. I couldn’t deal with designating activities or keeping track of what I have done in the little boxes. I feel like this is a shortcoming in my effort to plan, both for the expected and the unexpected. I could likely be more productive if I would commit to specific tasks and specific times.

    So when the unexpected occurs, I just roll with it. Thankfully, the unexpected seldom takes the shape of a crisis these days.

    One thing I have picked up it for various places is to set either a single task or three tasks that are the priority for the day, and to then have either a collection of other tasks or a list in declining order of priority. I do best when I look at the big longterm list and pick out the few things I want to focus on for any given day. I think I will be forever tweaking my time management methods.

    Last week’s goals:
    1) Finish Em Proposal and send off: finished, but then Colleague surprisingly popped up and agreed to review. So I’m waiting on feedback.
    2) Finish teaching-related task from spring: really struggling with my lack of enthusiasm on this one.
    3) Bring in books from the garage: done. It’s strange to pull out books I haven’t looked at since my masters program--in a different discipline--and put them on my shelves now.
    4) Begin 10 minute mindfulness pledge (do some mindfulness activity for ten minutes every day): done. Learning something in random bits from various sources with no agenda is a good challenge.

    1) One more go at finishing teaching-related tasks from spring.
    2) Write call for proposals for edited collection project.
    3) Write deadlines/schedule for upcoming article (which also needs a code name)
    4) Start work on So Overdue Project

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    1. I can't deal with the little boxes, my inner toddler starts to kick and scream! But they can be handy as a 'done list' - writing something in each box, or colouring it in in different colours, has a certain pleasure to it

      I do better by using the "boot trick" - tell a toddler "please put your boots on" and you will often get resistance. Ask them "do you want red boots or blue boots?" and they will more likely make a choice and be booted more quickly... that sense of having some control matters to me, AND it lets me adjust to the rhythm of the day (since whilst the broad patterns of my energy/focus and of external interruptions are known, each day has it's own unevennesses) - so whatever system I'm using, I list the things that need doing in the week as a list alongside the calendar type thing, and pick and choose from the list - so I still have a bit of autonomy!

      I TRY to timetable some writing time, so it doesn't have quite as much chance of sliding off the list when things get busy, and to be reasonably disciplined about doing nasty/boring stuff early on in the week to get it out of the way, but the basic idea of seeing the week as say 40 hours of which 10 are timetabled and the rest are to be filled from the list "depending" seems to suit my psyche much better than having the whole week planned!

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    2. The boot trick is marvelous! Thanks for that.

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    3. I like the idea of a weekly list from which I can pull things on a daily basis!

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    4. I generally use Passion Planner to schedule my "hard" time items (courses, carpool pick up) and things I don't want to neglect (exercise, writing). The rest I leave blank for "to do" list items.

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  2. Topic: this one is apropos, since I realized by about Monday evening that I'd brought back a cold from the workshop I attended the preceding weekend. That, combined with another day-long workshop to attend on Wednesday, and a week of nearly unrelenting rain (standard British weather, I realize, but unusual for us), made for a considerably different week than the one I'd envisioned (about which more below).

    More generally, I do often list more than I can realistically get done, but I also have a pretty clear sense of what I *have* to get done (and use my electronic to-do list's priority-numbering system to make sure those items end up at the top of the list; there's a part of me that would like a system that could make this even more fine-grained, but I suspect I'd end up spending more time than I should devising and playing with systems, so it's probably just as well that it's relatively simple). I also periodically track my time (in a Word table of my own devising, pretty similar to what humming42 describes), mostly with the objective of figuring out how long it *really* takes me to do things. I think that's one thing I got out of grad school, and adjuncting, and then the 4/4 load, and various encounters with people in those situations who had unrealistic ideas of what I (and they) could accomplish in what amount of time if I/they/we could only come up with the right system: it pays to be realistic, and realize that time is not the only dimension involved; energy and focus and similar matters also play a role, and their gradual depletion can make even relatively simple tasks take longer and longer, to the point where taking breaks and otherwise re-arranging things is not only kinder to oneself, but more efficient. It sounds like O'Connell's ideas are somewhat along these lines, and I've ordered the book, since I'm feeling in need of some inspiration/material for reflection.

    Last week's goals:

    1) get into a more regular exercise habit, especially swimming and walking (preferably both, but at least one, each day)
    2) make progress on financial paperwork
    3) get in touch w/ friends re: getting together; try to figure out how to stay in touch w/ family members in middle of delicate situation

    Accomplished:
    1)swam Monday (before I'd really acknowledged the cold; hope the chlorine content of the pool was up to snuff, for others' sake!); otherwise, no (but see comments about rain and cold above; a major symptom of the cold has been low energy).
    2) made a very little progress today
    3) did one outing with a friend (which she proposed) yesterday; still mulling (or avoiding) family situation.

    Analysis: not to bad, actually, given cold and rain and all-day on-campus meeting and beginning of summer term. Still, I need to pick up progress toward completing summer goals.

    So, goals for next week:

    1) get into a more regular exercise habit, especially swimming and walking (preferably both, but at least one, each day)
    2) make progress on financial paperwork; other household tasks w/ financial angle
    3) get in touch w/ at least one other friend and one colleague re: getting together; send a family card; touch base w/ a family member.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, yuck, conference lurgies.

      I ordered 'Wishcraft', on your recommendation earlier in the session (or maybe the end of last session?) - I picked a cheap option on Amazon which I didn't register was a US supplier so when it turned up at the end of last week it was a nice surprise (who doesn't like bookshaped packages they weren't expecting?). Now I just need to make the time to read it...

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  3. Hello,

    1. Topic
    Mmm. Actually I am very poor at planning and dealing with the unexpected things. Thus, my plan is always beautifully arranged, as if everything was going perfect. Though, of course, none of my plan went as planned. What I usually do is just to re-plan my original plan when something happens. So, my plan is so flexible and grow up in unexpected ways. Therefore, I am thus very interested in what others do!

    2.last goals:
    1) to make a plan of the revision of Chapter 1. - I am still workig on the plan, while I have started to revise it. It will be much harder I expected, but it revision is usually just so, I think.
    2) to read two important articles. - Only one.
    3) to exercise for 5 minutes when I have time. - 3 days. Also I try to walk when some errands need to be done, and avoid stairs.
    4) to have less sweets, less snacks at night. - Less sweets is ok, but I tend to have more salty snacks.

    3:analysis:
    This week needed a lot of travel. I was able to enjoy traveling but it took so much time and energy. I got tired and irritated. What I learned is that I am busy as others, and I need to deal with the situation, which looks difficult, but this it the usual, which I had to go along with. So, I should not wait for the summer holidays (it would never be free as I dream) but find out the way I can handle the busy life. And this is why I always join this group!

    4:planning:
    This week I tried to make a plan and thus avoid to work actually. I was making a nice-looking plan, but from the first I suspected this wouldn’t work well. I am going to make a small, tangible plan for the revision of my Chapter 1.

    5:next goals:
    1) to make a plan and to start working on Chapter 1.
    2) to read the important articles for Chapter 1 revision.
    3) to revise my documents for the committee.
    4) to exercise for 5 minutes when I have time.
    5) to have less sweets at night.

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    Replies
    1. Travel does take so much energy! And being irritable is such a waste of energy but also so hard to stop...

      Your comment on point 4 about planning as procrastination made me laugh, it reminded me of how my friends and I would make Revision Plans for our end of year school exams, we'd all get together and create these amazing planners, colour coded and decorated, we could spend the whole DAY making a plan. Which usually was the first day of the plan, so it was all blown before we began...

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    2. Haha, making a plan dreaming the great things accomplised in the future is actually enjoyable ! The problem is - how to get started according to the plan !

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  4. Topic:
    Preparing for the unexpected was a timely topic for this week. I had several unexpected problems arise, and I ended up throwing everything into the air, rather than having the ability to adjust everything to fit the problems.

    When only the normal sort of timing gaffes happen, I can usually roll with them. I do a version of O’Connell’s idea, although his is more presentable with make-up on and hair all in place. I figure out the time for each task then multiply by two (or three if it involves difficult people or reading critical theory or something brain-busting like that). By the time I have put out all the fires and figured out the nouns and verbs in the theory, I still have time for the things I need to get done.

    I also use the "three things I have to do today." Those are usually very small things that don’t take a lot of time, but just concentrated effort on my part, because I hate to do them, like calling doctor’s offices, and the like.

    So, for last week’s goals:
    1) Read and take notes on one article. Yes, I did accomplish this goal.
    2) Walk for half an hour 5 times. No, only twice.
    3) Try out two of the healthy recipes, to see if I can fool the men in the house. Nope, not at all.

    Analysis: Speaking of being prepared for the unexpected, I completely failed to roll with the punches this past week. My father, who turned 93 on Thursday, fell in the bathroom and ended up in the ICU (Intensive Care Unit for non-US friends). I live 1,004 miles away, but luckily my sister was working about five hours away and could go take care of him when he got out of the hospital yesterday.

    On Friday, I became violently ill at work, with symptoms of either gall bladder disease or ulcers, depending on which online medical website one cares to peruse. I still feel pretty crummy, but I think I’m over the worst of it.

    Next week’s goals:
    1) Another of the critiques came in for the co-authored article, so I plan to work on those edits.

    2) I’m only going to try for walking three times this week, as I still feel somewhat shaky.

    3) Two recipes for healthy food, as I am still trying to fool the family into eating better.

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    1. Oh, wow, that sounds like a pretty awful week with your father taking a fall (is he somewhat okay now that he's back home again?) and you getting sick! I don't think you can really plan at all for those kinds of things, and it sounds like throwinh everything in the air was a rather appropriate solution. Your goals for next week sound very reasonable, though, and I'm sure you can make them.

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    2. That does, indeed, sound like quite a week. I hope both your father and you continue to feel better.

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    3. I'm impressed you got anything done with a week like that going on around you!

      'Just three things' is a great way to both prioritise and to make your day feel managable, I find...

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    4. Sending wishes for health and wellness!

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    5. Oh, wow. I hope you are both on the road to recovery. I, too, find that, sometimes, I just have to "let go" of "what I need to get done."

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    6. Just to say I hope your father's recovery continues -- pretty amazing that he's been discharged so fast from the ICU. Though I think when people are 93, they do ICU partly just for safety sake!

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  5. That sounds like a really difficult week. I hope your father recovers well, as do you. It sounds like you are looking for ways to keep up the momentum on existing projects to hold you through as things improve.

    Karenh

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  6. Oops - the comment above was for Elizabeth!

    For me this week:
    Topic - I tend to have much less structure than some of you work with (which I am working on in what I have proclaimed to be the official year of systems) so tend to do triage prioritised Things to Do lists that knock off the must do tasks. This doesn't help with TLQ projects, which become the easiest to drop. So I think building systems with some slack/reduncancies/flexibility/resilience is the way to go, if I can do that.

    There is also, as ContingentCassandra pointed out, the dimensions of energy and focus as well as time, and I do find that if I tackle a major task in the evening I pay for that in non-functional brain time the next day. So sustainable evening work practices are worth aiming for.

    Last week/Analysis:
    1. P1 Admin list and as many items as can be knock off in a hour. - nope, but have some discussions with people involved in the prject
    2. P2 Make a list of possible journals that Embodied paper could find a home in, 15 min writing 3x week on it. - sidetracked into reading relevant articles in one journal I found.
    3. Bed alarm clock continue - yes, mostly
    4. Try physio exercise in office 4 x week - office does not work. New office has better position and light, but the trade off is higher visibility by colleagues and students and that doesn't encourage one to go through a series of contortions. Have moved back to nights, and got 3 x week in.

    This was a fairly limited work week, with one day of my 3 working days taken up with 'chaperoning' a field trip, and working on a major grant application for an non-profit group I am involved with.

    Planning: Next week is going to be high on postgrad supervision demands - I'm finding the transition from the student to supervisor perspective complex and difficult. There's also a backlog of semester marking I need to get on top of, and with a quick turn around to the start of next semester, need to make progress on the preparations for the classes I'm teaching then.

    Goals:
    1. STILL! P1 Admin list and knock off 1 hour of items.
    2. Read and note-take 2 articles for P2.
    3. Physio exercises 4 x week
    4. Sanity break one night per week - either music practice or crafting

    Karenh

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    1. Post-graduate supervision is really challenging, I find, even though I've been doing it for quite a while. It needs to be so individualised, it's such an intimate yet professional relationship, almost a therapeutic one (part of the goal after all is that the supervisee achieve substantial personal mental growth...), yet it has to be balanced among so many other things, and 'fair' across the students you have.... I found the chapter on 'how to manage your supervisor' in Phillips and Pugh's book "How to get a PhD" to be quite useful, as a supervisor.

      I'm also currently in the process of supporting our grad students at NorthernUni to set up their own real life writing group, to encourage them to take some of the support side of things into their own hands - this may be less of an issue in the US where I understand you tend to have cohorts of grad students who take classes together so are more likely to bond and support each other with studying and process stuff, but although ours start as cohorts at fixed starting points, they take only a few classes, and rarely take the same classes, so they need to create the habit...

      Sounds like you really have a busy week to come, and the sanity break will be very much needed! What instrument do you play?

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    2. I've been learning percussion for 5 years as part of a community music group - beyond just having the chance to immerse myself in music and doing something that matches physical with mental, I find it's also a really useful exercise of being in a student role.

      I'm in a discipline where the research is primarily practice-led (combining creative work with research and writing), and the students work on separate projects, often with a lot of isolation. I've been trying to run an informal research lunch for them and staff for the past semester which will have a more structured writing component next semester.

      Karenh

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    3. Your "research lunches" sound like a great idea and a great help to the students.

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    4. Also, it's interested to hear your thoughts on supervision since I am a post-grad student, myself. I'm somewhat non-tradition though (cuz I'm old and I already have an academic job that I don't plan to leave). I've been fortunate to have a lovely primary supervisor. It will be interesting as I start the heavy push to finish though. She is very busy these days--she's doing some administration, and she is also overseeing a very large grant project. I hope she'll have time to read pages when I send them! My secondary supervisor recently retired, so I just got a new one whom I don't know much about.

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  7. 1. Topic: Planning for the real world, yes! I'm not good at it, but trying to get better. For one thing, I've only very recently started putting my to-do list items on my actual (computer) calendar, where I used to only put the appointments & things that involved other people (like class meetings). That's already helped me a lot to see how my plans are widely unrealistic: I'll blightely note "grade half of the essays" on a day when I'm also teaching a 3-hour class (and don't consider at all how much time grading 45 essays actually takes me). So, now at least I'm thinking about how long something is likely to take.
    The next step for me will be to start scheduling time for "deal with email-generated tasks" or other unexpected stuff that's not really so unexpected. I think that I, too, avarage about 2 hours of random dealing with students/email/colleagues, and considering I don't allow time for that in my schedule, I end up feeling overwhelmed and not on top of things.
    In that state of mind, I always have the same (bad!) solution, which is to clear off my writing time from the schedule. Works like a charm in the short-term, but the longer results for TLQ is pretty devastating (no articles in the past 3 years!!!)

    2. Last week's goals & analysis:
    a. grade student posters w/colleague (try to be quick about it!)--> I asked her to postpone to free up time for writing. Note how this is completely opposite to my normal modus operandi, so I like to think that I'm finally learning to prioritize TQL more!
    b. attend talk and take speaker to dinner--> did it!
    c. grade MA res props--> couldn't quite do this, as one student seems to have dropped from the face of the earth; I've sent her a stern email, but otherwise I'll be done waiting for her pretty soon.I also read two half-way drafts for MA theses.
    d. delegate/ignore/say No to all other tasks that randomly crop up this week--> I'm going to count re-scheduling the grading appointment with my colleague as an achievement here!
    e. find time to work on HA paper each day, w/goal of SFD for writing group--> did it! that is, wrote 4 days, for about 2,5 hours each. The first draft was discussed in my writing group today and the verdict is that it still needs a lot of work. Still, I'm so happy that I at least made a start!

    Planning: this week is going to be pretty full with grading (rescheduled from last week) and student meetings (MA thesis season is in full swing). I've realized that I need to read more of the literature to take the paper forward, so I'll need to get that on my calendar, too, or it'll never happen. The summer is also definitely upon us now, which means visitors, our move, and fieldwork all coming up. So the overall goal is going to be establishing sustainable practices and routines for writing as well as reading, which I can manage throughout the summer.

    4. Goals
    a. finalize my share of admin docs that have come back from collegial imput
    b. write for at least 2 poms on HA paper on 3 days this week
    c. spend at least 3 poms reading for HA paper 5 days this week
    d. spend time walking/riding bike outside 5 days this week
    e. move bedtime to earlier time!

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    1. Getting a realistic sense of how long it takes to grade student work of various kinds (and how much energy/focus one needs to do it), is, I think, very useful (and hence very important). At least in my field (which involves grading a lot of student writing), some people (unfortunately including some who teach/supervise other teachers) seem to spend an inordinate amount of time coming up with new schemes for making grading more efficient, none of which are actually very efficient, if only because they keep changing them up. Just admitting that it takes time, and planning accordingly (including cutting down on the number of assignments if necessary/possible) strikes me as a sensible approach (but I'm a bit of a grouch who I suspect some members of the program would prefer not hang around the young 'uns too much, lest I contaminate them).

      All of the above said, there also seems to be something to said for scheduling writing during one's most productive time of day (preferably relatively early, before other things -- e.g. all that email-generated stuff -- have time to intervene), and just making the rest of everything fit in the time left over.

      Yes, there are some major contradictions between the two approaches described above. I really do believe in both of them, but I'm not sure I've ever managed to practice them simultaneously (or at least not for long).

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    2. Yay for prioritising TLQ stuff! Somehow the sense of achievement spills over into the other work anyway, I find.

      Not sure there are really contradictions in CC's reply - what I thought on reading it is that what she's saying is, there is a bunch of STUFF to do, say grading - essential, email stuff - which like housework and clutter expands to fill the space available, and TLQ stuff - which is important but a bit unstable (psychologically harder than the email stuff), so easily gets pushed out by the other two. By putting TLQ FIRST, giving it a small chunk of time (so that there is still a decent amount of time for the rest) but making sure that is the best quality, most productive time, then you can focus on the essential grading (with sensible time allowances) without TLQ nagging at you, and know that the messy expanding bit can't ruin it. Does that make sense?

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    3. Do the writing first, best advice ever. The rest of the day is plenty long enough for the other stuff.
      The best TLQ thing I've ever done was to schedule a writing session with only research writing allowed, with a friend for every Monday morning this past Fall. It made an enormous difference to my whole outlook about writing, productivity increased hugely even though time spent did only a little, and both of us found that the entire term was better because of that. We did it in a coffee shop, first thing Monday mornings, usually about 2 hours. Both of us got papers out of it and really loved the practice. We will be doing it again!

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    4. CC, I found also found that streamlining grading is difficult. As an English teacher with a large composition load, I grade LOTS of papers. I have found that the best ways to manage are 1) creating some assignments that I grade as either A, C, or F (these are study questions and other types of short things), and, as you say, 2) cutting some assignments.

      Daisy, That's fabulous that you got papers out of your morning meetings. What a great way to start the week! That sounds like a very successful experience.

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  8. topic: A work in progress, always. Very interested to see what you are all saying here...

    last goals:
    1) complete all marking leftovers from the semester YES apart from one set of marks from last semester which apparently 'never made it to the front office' - they bloomin' did, but with two people leaving and temps in, I'm not going to add to their stress by complaining about it - which I need to find tomorrow when I'm in the office
    2) check out a technical problem with a dataset in the lab, and correct the spreadsheet and analyses as necessary checked the problem, worked out what it was (and that the worker had stored all the samples on their sides so leaking everywhere, YUCK, but I guess it's better to find that now than in a few months time or in the middle of a last-minute move (it will be last minute, they always are)), changed the spreadsheets, have not yet redone the analyses and diagrams
    3) Go through the notes from the workshop and email as necessary, put in workshop expenses claim expenses yes, notes no
    4) keep a mood and self-care diary, to collect data mood got in the way too many days for this to be really useful
    5) work through the comments on Crunchier and if time Crunchier's Little Brother I've nearly finished Crunchier...
    6) bed before midnight! four nights out of seven, I think

    analysis:lots of half-done things there, but it's better than not-done things. I went into the office on three days and two of them involved meetings and internal politics and were definitely stressful. The third was better in that it involved SCIENCE and collaboration with people I chose to work with, but it didn't advance any of my actual TLQ thingies. And I hurt my foot Thursday - a 'good' hurt, in that what happened is that I have splashed out on some 'natural motion' light exercise shoes which correct the pronation problem I have linked with my bad hip, and they are so comfy on that I wore them for longer than I should have done during the wearing in process, and the damaged ankle ligament and other structural elements in the bad hip leg definitely knew about it - it was all the 'good stretch' kind of ouch, but it still kept me awake and had me limping the few days! .

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    1. planning: The imaginary clocks of summer and study leave are both ticking loudly and discordantly... so being me I effectively although unintentionally took the weekend off. And most of today (Monday). So I need to get going! I have office obligations again this week ::pout:: as it should have been quite clear - I have to go in tomorrow because that's when the technician can come and install my new computer, which takes HOURS and requires me to be there to log into things and sign things and make sure the right software gets installed. But it will be great to have a computer at work which starts up in under 15 minutes and doesn't "chug" so much when asked to do pretty much anything! Thursday is another of the 'politically valuable to be present' meetings, and I'm also meeting the post-grads about starting a writing group (see reply to karenh above). Friday is a deadline for the admin role I've kept on, but I might be able to work at home (even if it means going in for a few hours on the weekend to do a load of printing - I don't mind the odd page, but I have two giant lever-arch binders of material to compile for the following Tuesday, and I don't want to do anything like that much printing at home, or to go to the office Monday (I have an early afternoon meeting with my trainer at the gym and I want to prioritise that, gosh doesn't that sound fancy and athletic (I'm not, and it isn't, but still... I want to prioritise it and I am going to)). But not much time for goals. Again :-(

      next goals:
      1) complete all urgent administrivia stuff, and leave the rest 'parked downhill' for picking up in September
      2) redo the analyses for the report that is not really my problem
      3) Go through notes from workshop and from Friday meeting, and email as necessary
      4) keep a mood and self-care diary, to collect data (try again...)
      5) work through the rest of the comments on Crunchier and start on Crunchier's Little Brother
      6) bed before midnight!

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    2. It's great that you are helping the post-grads put together a writing group. As a UK post-grad who is living in the US, I work in a lot of isolation, and so this group and conferences are great for me! I'm sure the students will benefit from your efforts.

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  9. Topic:
    I like the method of not planning everything exactly so there is always some flexibility for difficult weeks. Keeping a list of mixed tasks (little to big, easy to hard) makes it possible to pick something to finish even when everything goes sideways. On the other hand it also makes it easy to do silly things rather than the important ones, but even those need to get done so it is progress in a way too...

    Last week's goals:
    1) Finish text edits on lingering paper L2 DONE except for figure captions
    2) Send L2 to helpful readers WILL DO tomorrow after (1)
    2) Find all field gear, and buy anything needed - do not leave until next weekend! FAILED - totally left it all for the weekend, but since the weekend is now over, I guess it got done...
    3) Set up research students to work without me DONE
    4) Keep up reading project DONE except for 1 day where I forgot

    I will be away for the next 3 weeks - I'm off to field work in very far away place. I'm very excited, almost packed, and ready to work! See you in three weeks!

    Goals for AWAY:
    1) Work on writing projects at least 30 minutes every day
    2) Keep up reading project
    3) Make better field notes than last year because for the love of pete I wish I could go back and slap my former self silly for taking terrible notes!!!

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    1. Take care of yourself and have great weeks with the field work!

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    2. Congrats for the productivity, and I hope the fieldwork is great and that this time you are not as silly as you were last time and so take better notes.

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    3. I find I have to set aside time regularly when I'm in note-taking mode (interview, conference, class, coaching session) to consolidate and complete my notes. That one word that makes sense in the moment is usually gibberish the next day!

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  10. Topic: yeah, I *expected* this summer to turn out one way and have been planning since November for the summer to be one way, and now it isn't. And unfortunately this is in a negative way, negative in the sense of less time to do the TLQ stuff I had hoped to do, and indeed less time to do some TRQ stuff as well. Could I have accounted for this when planning? In hindsight it seems perfectly obvious that this was how things would work out. I did leave some spare time for unexpected stuff, but I'm afraid it wont be enough.
    On that note, the check in, but I'm not going to revise my goals as I've not done them yet.


    kjhaxton (goals copied from week 2 checkin)
    1. Finish as much marking as possible, what is not done by home time Thursday will be done on Wednesday.
    - not finished it all yet, hoping to do so on Thursday and Friday this week.
    2. continue the list making and planning habits,
    - been on hold, was travelling most of last week, and as the paragraph on the topic mentions, things have been shaken up a bit.
    3. start to write a small amount each day.
    - I've not started yet, hopefully from Monday...??

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    1. I'm sorry to hear about the negative "unexpecteds." I hope they aren't too serious and that you find some ways to work through or around them.

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  11. Last week I did something that was very helpful and that might, in some ways, help me with unexpected wrenches that are thrown into the works. One of my goals was to, each night, make a schedule for the next day. I did this on most days and found it really helpful. First, doing this meant that I thought about all of the details I needed to consider--things that sometimes I just forget about as I move through the day. I also allotted time for little tasks as well as for larger blocks of reading and writing. And I make specific plans about what I would read and write.

    Doing all of this really reduced the amount of "noodling around" time I did, and if I did "noodle about," I knew whether or not I was still on schedule or not, so as long as I was on track with my schedule I was okay. Also, if I decided to make a change, the trade-offs were much more clear. The other benefit was that having this schedule helped me track how long the work actually takes (as per the issues raised above by CC). I want to keep doing this. It seems especially important during summer and sabbatical when things are more open. I think I'll add JaneB's idea about a having weekly list, and I can pull from that list as I make each night's schedule.

    Last week's goals:

    1) Finish prepping for daughter's b-day. (This includes repainting a piano bench I found on the side of the road. I'm going to do it up in fun colors.) YES! Whew! All I have left to do is put a sealer coat on the bench.
    2) Be present for the kids during this "mommy week" while hubby is gone. YES, I think I did this.
    3) Each evening, set a schedule for the next day. MOST evenings.
    4) Exercise 4 times (swim at least once). NOT quite. I walked 3-4 times and did not get to the pool.
    5) Finish re-reading primary source. NO.
    6) read two articles or book chapters. YES.
    7) purge boxes of stuff from the cabinets of the bathroom that hubby demoed. YES, mostly.

    Also, I wrote about 1,000 words!

    This week is harder. Strangely, things were a little bit easier when Hubby was gone because he tends to throw in those little unexpected tasks. When he was gone, I had a quite house to myself, and I didn't have him saying, "We need to go pick out tile today" when I wanted to read and write. While we're on summer break, I think I'm going to have to make my daily plans and consult him at the beginning of each week and throughout the week so that I can account for some of the things he might otherwise surprise me with. I can also check in with him when I make a schedule each night.

    This week will also be tough because the kids are finishing school. That means there are lots of events: plays, talent shows, Battle of the Books, etc. And the kids aren't going to want me working on Thursday afternoon or Friday when they are finished with school! I'll have to focus on celebrating with them.

    This week:
    1) Walk twice. Swim once.
    2) Finish primary source
    3) Read two more secondary articles or chapters
    4) Write 750 words
    5) Help kids celebrate the end of the school year.

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    1. What a week! Congrats on all your great progress!

      I find I do okay with the weekly schedule until about Wednesday. I really need to do the nightly planning you've described.

      I hope the last week of school is fantastic and that you celebrate well.

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  12. Topic: Well, the one good thing about being a bad planner is that I respond easily to the unexpected. In some ways, i assume the unexpected, but it easily eats up all my time -- this report, this service requirement, etc. Which is NOT good for TLQ. One of my big challenges is that I find it difficult to switch gears. So I always have to plan for a half hour just to make a change in tasks. But as I'm reading everyone else's practices, I think planning for the next day at the end of each day is very helpful.

    Last week's goals:
    1. Get rough draft of introduction finished. This is rough -- it may include places where my paragraph says the equivalent of "Here be dragons", but it should be sketched so that I can fill in the blanks. YES. And it's less rough than I expected!
    2. Write editor about my book - DONE
    3. Write editor about collection of essays NO
    4. Write potential contributors NO
    5. Make a bunch of phone calls All but one
    6. Get ticket for my mother's travel this summer YES
    7. Book B & B where I'll take a few days of real vacation NO
    8. Walk at least 4 day 2? hard to tell, with gardening, and travel, and child care...

    Analysis: the weekend involved helping my brother care for the 17 month old twins while his wife was away. Note to all parents in this group: you have my undying admiration - I was wiped out! But travel to my brother's allowed me to work for 3 half days at my favorite library. I could just concentrate, and that enabled me to finish the intro. I got home late yesterday (Monday) and of course forgot that all the usual weekend tasks (laundry, shopping) had to be done, so today has largely disappeared. When I finish this report I'm heading off to read some books I got through ILL....

    Next week's goals
    1. Add in a few stray references in intro based on ILL books
    2. Go back to two messiest chapters to see where they are
    3. Fix refs on ILL book due Thursday
    4. Make dentist appointment
    5. Email editor, contributors, re. collection of essays
    6. Work through old essays that need to be entered into bibliography
    7. Walk or garden 5 days.

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  13. allan Wilson. Last weeks goals:
    Topic: I totally agree about leaving time for unplanned things. I tend to be overoptimistic in my planning, so mostly don't mind if there are things undone on my list as long as I have some things that I can cross off. I probably struggle more from motivation after a really intense period, when I feel just, rundown and need to take a breather but can't. I guess to some extent I don't mind the unexpected if it is reasonably productive- the bit I hate most is meetings that go on and on, or don't seem to be well facilitated, where I really feel they have destroyed my productive time.
    Last week's goals:
    1. Exercise four times - YES
    2. encourage myself toward goal one - I got there, so all good on this one
    3. Make a list of tasks for CR - NO. Hmm.
    Analysis: I have been working intensely on a project that had to take priority this week, as the leader of the project had to give talks and needed data analysis and support. and it all took a lot of time. So, not quite as I expected. On the good side, working on that project so intensely has given me a really interesting idea for a paper that I can write based on my contribution to it, so I am quite excited about that, thinking it through. Nonetheless, I need to get back to the core work I have set out for myself.
    So, the same goals as last week, plus one more,
    4. Finish paper whk. this will mostly involve encouraging my collaborator to do the work required which is holding the paper up. and, tightening up the suppl. mat, and checking a spreadsheet. I hope to achieve all (very optimistically!).



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    1. After a period of intense work, we DO need time off. Even if it's just an afternoon of reading a trashy novel, or doing nothing. I get very anxious about our tendency to expect ourselves to work all the time.

      Anyway, good on the exercise, and finishing goal 1.

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