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Friday, 19 June 2015

week 5 check in: What Not To Drop


Hello everyone, hope you've all had a good and productive week, and not been either washed away or burnt to a crisp!  Last week we talked about adjusting our plans, and the week before we talked about dealing with the unexpected.  In both cases, we ended up talking about dropping things and saying no, whether to others or just to ourselves, and about how easy it is to let TLQ things be the things that are allowed to slide.  I've been re-reading the Fergus O'Connell book I've mentioned before, and once again struck by how attractive his basic message is - you can't do it all, so you should only do the things which really matter, and do them well - and how hard it is to put into practice (especially to put into practice whilst being female, I suspect). 

I've been trying to make better use of the Three Things idea this week, identifying three key tasks for the day.  I've realised one of my 'issues' around this is that I feel like they all ought to be work things, and if they aren't, I'm not working hard enough.  Yesterday my three things were: "referee a paper [which was overdue], make cakes [for real-life writing group] and go to the gym".  I actually struggled to make myself write those as my three things - they looked really self-indulgent, like a weekend day almost, not a work day.  In the event, clearing the refereeing first thing in the morning felt good, the baking and the gym were productive and self-nurturing things to do when I began to lose focus on the email and other stuff I was doing with my work time, and having my Three Things done by mid-afternoon felt great (and actually some more work got done almost by accident in the evening and progress was made on most items on the wider list, not just the top three).

This exercise made me realise how often I put off the really important stuff in life, both in the academic achieving things sense (writing that Counts) and in the self-care sense - despite this group, and all the sensible things I say to others, and the training and reading I've done, urgent wins.  TRQ and BRQ things are loud, in my face, and giving in to them is often the easy choice; but not the wisest one.  Important doesn't always mean easy (something else that came up in the comments - sometimes TLQ is postponed because it Has Baggage), but if my students complained that things are Too Hard, I'd not exactly be sympathetic!  This coming week I'm going to try and focus on only the tasks that have to be done by ME, and only the ones that have effects which I will care about in a year's time - and that includes things that support my health and well-being, but EXcludes things like, oh, writing the best and most detailed referee report I can, or going to a lot of meetings...

Topic: how do you decide what not to drop when stuff gets tough?  Are you good at making smart choices, or does TLQ slip away so you find yourself looking back at the past months or years wondering what you did, rather than admiring the papers written and gardens created?  Any suggestions for how we can renew our committments to do what matters most, to care for ourselves and our loved ones and 'attend to our muses' (or whatever the academic-writerly equivalent is) and deliver on the parts of our jobs which matter most rather than those that shout the loudest?

Last week's goals:


Academic Amstr
1) exercise 3x
2) start evening routine, daily (next day's activity plan, next day's food plan, next day's work plan, etc.)
3) write 3x
4) cover letter SFDs for two jobs
5) prep list of first 5 agents to query, get query spreadsheet organized
6) take care of pesky I-9 form for job

Allan Wilson
1. Exercise four times
2. Begin work on CR
3. Send other nearly finished paper to colleagues for comment

Contingent Cassandra
Exercise each day (walk, swim, or move mulch, preferably 2 of 3).
2) Substantial progress on financial paperwork *and* at least one household task with financial implications.
3) Touch base w/ family member and one colleague; send another card. 


Daisy (away for three weeks)
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!!!

Elizabeth (carried over from week 4)
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.
Good Enough Woman
1) Walk three times. Swim once.
2) Write 1500 words.
3) Finish re-reading primary source
4) Read 100 pages of secondary source material
5) procure necessary items for daughter's sleep away camp (and avoid freaking out over the fact that she is going to sleep away camp, and avoid worrying that she is going for the wrong reasons--to bond with a "best friend" who has been neglecting her--and that the whole thing could go terribly).

 
Humming42
1) One more go at finishing teaching-related tasks from spring.
2) Send out 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.

iwantzcatbocl
1) Work on text for chapters 1, 1a and 2.
2. go to campus and take care of administrative stuff over two days
3. exercise 4 times
4. make flight arrangements for flight at end of summer for big trip
5. prepare progress toward tenure letters (half of them)
6. check in with TLQ group!
 

JaneB
1) get Crunchier and Crunchier's Little Brother to the point where they can be sent off to persnickety co-author (who will get actual pleasure out of formatting them for submission and moving the commas around in the reference list. Because he is wierd, but hey, it's a useful kind of wierd!)
2) this time REALLY get administrative stuff done as far as possible, then just STOP.
3) send emails, or at least a proper list of the emails that need sending, from the workshop and last Friday's meeting.
4) calendar review, cattery bookings (which I still haven't done! Aargh!), and being Nice To Jane

karenh
1. P1 - do the horrible contacting people job, and get 1 hour of playing in digital archives as reward.
2. P2 - finish up notes for 2 articles
3. One form of physical activity on top of physio exercises- probably swimming or a yoga class, as this close to solstice morning/evening walk is distinctly unappealing.
4. Restrict evening marking to 2 rounds of pomodoro.

kjhaxton (carried over from week 4)
1. Finish as much marking as possible on Thursday and Friday.
2. continue the list making and planning habits,
3. start to write a small amount each day. 


Let’sDoThis
1. Submit the article. I am SO close and the deadline is tomorrow (though they've extended it to July 15th). This WILL be done ... almost momentarily.
2. Finish grading some senior projects. I'm technically on leave with the baby, but senior projects stop for no woman. These are due Tuesday,
3. Finish grading a few writing exams I picked up for some $$. These are due tomorrow.
4. Get the summer proper under way ... swimming etc. for daughter, infant stuff for infant!
5. And continue to clean the house! This basically means get rid of stuff. 

Matilda
1) to revise the first part of Chapter 1.
2) to read 3 important articles for the book.
3) to exercise for 5 minutes several times a day.
4) to eat less snacks at night. 

Mercy
a. get the grading for last semester out of the way and DON'T start teaching prep for next semester
b. reading goal for HA paper: 5 articles on 5 days
c. writing goal for HA paper: 3 poms on 3 days
d. do NOT do goal: don't check email first thing in the morning
e. go to bed earlier!!
f. take lunch walks at work or after-dinner walks w/oldest kids

Susan
1. Desk organizing/clearing so I can see it.
2. Bibliography refs.
3. Make Dentist appointment
4. Other emails/ calls re house
5. Read book for book review
6. Book for teaching next year

36 comments:

  1. Hi all, what a great topic! It's definitely my greatest struggle NOT to drop the writing tasks (my TLQ) in favor of the louder shouting teaching tasks. I will be glad to hear what strategies have worked for others, as I don't think I have found anything that really works for me so far. It might be that it's too easy for me to rationalize why I'm letting writing slide in favor of teaching: "I'm new in this job, so obviously I don't have existing class materials and need to spend time setting things up. Research is only a small fraction of my job, so it's not like I'm expected to do a ton. I wrote an (unsuccesful) grant application, which will count as writing for my department, so nobody's saying I'm not productive enough (yet). Plus, my youngest kid is still really wrong, but I will definitely have more time when the little one is a bit older, too." While I think there's some truth in these statements, I need to find a way to ALSO tell myself, "Still, my writing is what counts most in the end, so I NEED to make time for it, too, even if it's hard."

    The fact that writing, in and of itself, has "bagage" as far as I'm concerned, doesn't help at all. Sometimes I think I really shouldn't be an academic considering how much writing intimidates me.

    2. last week's goals & accomplishments: this will be a very dismal showing, because I was sick Tuesday through Thursday, and still recovering plus catching up on household chores on Friday. Let's see what I did do:
    a. get the grading for last semester out of the way and DON'T start teaching prep for next semester YES, did this before falling sick
    b. reading goal for HA paper: 5 articles on 5 days NO, only on Monday
    c. writing goal for HA paper: 3 poms on 3 days NO, not even on Monday
    d. do NOT do goal: don't check email first thing in the morning NOT SURE what I did on Monday
    e. go to bed earlier!! YES< being sick helps a lot here!
    f. take lunch walks at work or after-dinner walks w/oldest kids NO

    3. analysis: being sick is not very conducive to getting things done, especially not TLQ stuff. (I have celiac and unknowingly ate something that I shouldn't have)

    4. planning: full schedule ahead, with houseguests for the first part of the week, and getting ready for our move at the end of the month. We've only been in this house for a year, but still, there's a lot of packing, planning, and cleaning out to do. So I'll need to set very modest goals, but still want to stay in touch with HA paper; I'm thinking reading rather than writing goals will be the way to go for this week.

    5. Goals for the coming week:
    a. read/comment on 1 MA and 1 BA thesis
    b. read/comment on 1 admin report as it comes back
    c. museum visits w/house guests (took 3 days off for this)
    d. reading goal of 1 HA-related article on 4 days
    e. meeting w/TAs for next year's course (could not wait till Sep. after all)

    Wishing you all a good week!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, it is always those teaching tasks that are shouting! They are so loud! And look at you, even when you're off, meeting with TAs. But your weekly plan sounds great. I love the choice of fully taking three days off for your houseguests. I always find myself writing or emailing with students while the houseguests are showering, or after they go to bed, and it's very stressful. (Of course, there's always the other kind of houseguest, who thinks that profs "don't really work anyway," so they don't appreciate that we're taking time off for them. Ugh.) Have a lovely week!

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    2. Museum visits with house guests sound like something that is definitely TLQ - it would be easy to feel 'virtuous' and skip one, letting them go alone or with the rest of the family, whilst you do more paperwork (or if you're like me procrastinate), but making memories and doing stuff that's different and fun is also important. Being a visitor in my own town is something I almost never do unless I have house guests, and it's enjoyable!

      There's a lot of mental baggage around TLQ and it gangs up with Imposter Syndrome to beat you around the head whenever you approach your work (and it's sitting on the work, too, so you can't hear its tempting voice) (this is a horrible metaphor...)... it might be useful, since most of us are on summer so have a leetle bit more distance and time for these things, to refresh our aquaintance with the Dame's Bugge Spray in a later week and actually have Words with these monsters directly.

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    3. I hope you're feeling better! I'm really sitting with the idea of writing being intimidating. I'm inclined to say that if writing comes easily to someone, they probably aren't producing that much quality work. There are definitely people who find a nice rhythm to getting it done, but even that takes some practice to find the routine. I just think that writing is inherently difficult because it's about finding ways to concretely, convincingly, and perhaps even beautifully, say what you think.

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    4. The idea that writing is easy/quick for people who're "good" at it is one of the most persistent myths that composition teachers have to dispel. It does, indeed, seem to be hard for most people, including some very skilled writer/scholars.

      Hope you continue to feel better, and enjoy your houseguests. That sounds decidedly TLQ-ish to me, too.

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  2. I think I'll try the Three Things this week, too. It's about noon where I am, so not too late to set some up even for today. Sounds like you've got the Things under control, at least The Choosing of the Things. I'm going to follow your lead and make sure at least one of them is a self-care Thing (which means it cannot be either work- or house-related.)

    Great question about how to decide what *not* to drop. Honestly, the situation at my uni is so bad that it's become a lot easier over the last few years to drop school-related tasks: emails, grading, etc. We faculty here are so under-paid and under-appreciated that something has to give if only for the sake of self-respect. So, in a way, I'm almost grateful for how bad things have become. It's freed me up from feeling so much work-related pressure. I no longer feel the need to answer emails on evenings and weekends, for instance; in fact, I try to check email only once every business day. This is life-changing. But otherwise, I'd say I have NOT been good at making smart choices. There's too much on my plate--too many different writing projects, especially--which has left the one I care most about languishing. My goal this summer is actually to live according to stated priorities ... family, then writing, then everything else. Writing rarely shouts the loudest, but I'm hoping a rare summer without teaching will help me hear it.

    Regarding last week's goals:

    Let’sDoThis
    1. Submit the article.
    **DONE! YAY!

    2. Finish grading some senior projects.
    **DONE! YAY!

    3. Finish grading a few writing exams I picked up for some $$.
    **DONE! YAY!

    4. Get the summer proper under way ... swimming etc. for daughter, infant stuff for infant!
    **DONE! YAY!

    5. And continue to clean the house! This basically means get rid of stuff.
    **STARTED. UGH!

    THIS WEEK'S GOALS:
    1. Okay, call me crazy, but I want to submit another article! I pulled a short section out of my book manuscript, one related to a new finding in the non-literary writings of my book's subject, and I'm going to try to get it published ahead of the book. My goal is to submit this one by Monday but would be happy with Wednesday. I have to clean it up, add some close readings, etc., but the research and the heavy lifting already are done. The benefit of this goal is that I can plunk the finished writing back into the book manuscript, moving myself ever closer to that goalpost as well ...

    2. Take care of some lingering bills from pregnancy. Mostly, these are bills that were supposed to have been covered by insurance, and I've been avoiding making the phone calls to take care of the matters. I am dreading this one. I wish I had an assistant who could do this stuff.

    3. Clean up some videos my students and I made for a grant project, so I can post them and notify the money-givers.
    4. Continue to clean the house. My parents will be here in 3 weeks, and I'd like it to look better than it did in the throes of new babyhood last time they were here (when the baby was just 2 weeks old).

    5. Play board games with my daughter at least twice this week. It's a little thing that she just loves.

    All of this is do-able, except that my husband is back to work this week (summer teaching), so I'm on kid duty most of the day for most days for the next 5-6 weeks. May have to adjust goals next week, once I see what our daily rhythm is like.

    Have a great week, everyone!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Goal 1 sounds excellent, what a confidence-boost it will be to get an extra paper out there selling the book for you! And I hope you enjoy the board game playing too... playing board games with my niece suddenly got a LOT better a couple of years ago, when she started to get over the 'it's not FAIR' tantrums whenever the dice didn't go her way. Have you tried LEGO games? THey're not quite board games, as there's no actual board, but the idea is very similar, and in my family we've found everyone from 7 to 80 actually enjoys them, which isn't true for most board games.

      Picking my Three Things is a daily argument with myself, it's really hard to put things for me - especially ones which are good for me like exercise but which I only appreciate in retrospect! - ahead of things for work. Sitting down to think of them, all the work things come badgering for a place on the list (I imagine them as sort of large wasp-like flying things, very noisy but lacking stings)! But I keep pulling it out of the tool-kit for another go because it does help me remember that I do a better job for everyone else if I look after myself a bit too!

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    2. Sounds like you got a lot done this week. Yay, indeed! And I get the business about things being bad at work making it easier to say 'no"; for me, not being on the tenure track plays that role to some extent (especially since my department is, thankfully, quite conscientious about not asking/encouraging contingent faculty to "volunteer" for stuff that isn't really our job).

      Getting an article out of the book does, indeed, sound like an excellent idea on a number of levels (including the positive feedback of getting something done/published).

      If I were looking for something to drop from/downplay on your list, it would probably be the cleaning (well, unless you can somehow make it into a game/participatory activity with your daughter; that would work with some kids/ages, and some tasks, and not others, I realize). But I guess that depends on a lot of things, including your relationship with your parents, how they and you feel about the importance of clean houses, what counts as "clean" in the eyes of everyone involved, etc., etc.

      But I suspect all those considerations/questions are a clue as to why writing tends to get shoved aside in favor of "noisier" tasks (and perhaps to what makes them "noisier" -- lots of expectations and perceived expectations from lots of different people). I guess that leads to the question: how do we somehow "train" our writing to "shout," or at least speak up, or tug on our sleeves, now and then, the way students and TAs and messy houses do?

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    3. Congrats on submitting the article, and yay for the plans for the second article! That's awesome! And the board games is a good one. I might need to add that one to my list, too.

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    4. Thanks so much for your thoughts and feedback, everyone. :)

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  3. Last week’s discussion got me back to thinking about Three Things. So as I struggled with not getting things done, I decided to set Three Things. And I ended up doing ten other things, but not those three. I know this is partly a result of summer, when there are not a lot of structured time constraints because I am not teaching right now or traveling. So I’m painting the dining room and hauling stuff to the recycling center instead of finishing that assessment report. I am definitely a project in progress. I am trying to make sure that I’m not picking up an old undergraduate habit: “Oh I have a paper due on Friday. I’ll begin by cleaning the entire house.” One of those nice ways of gaining perspective with age is the realization that it’s never going to be just-so. I have to remember that, and let the dishes sit while I write the next paragraph; but not let the dishes sit because I can’t stand the thought of washing them or writing that paragraph so I’m going to read Twitter instead.

    Last week’s goals
    1) One more go at finishing teaching-related tasks from spring: no, I’m really not interested in this, and none of it is pressing, so I am moving it to BRQ.
    2) Send out call for proposals for edited collection project: Done. Exciting and terrifying! I’ve never done anything like this before.
    3) Write deadlines/schedule for upcoming article (which also needs a code name): Not yet.
    4) Start work on So Overdue Project: I’ve decided to abandon So Overdue Project, in the name of letting go of what is not really significant for me and stands in the way of the things I really want to do. As Let’sDoThis points out, it’s time to focus on the book manuscript and what is most important to me and for me.

    This week’s goals
    1) Send off book proposal. Colleague says it’s all good and I should just send it. So I will.
    2) Write to Overdue Project editor.
    3) Work every day on Upcoming Article.
    4) Begin reading book for book review.

    There will be more painting and with hope, an escape day with Traveling Friend in Nearby City at the of the week. May yours be splendid!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sounds like you made some progress, and did some planning (if not exactly the planning you'd planned to do). Congrats on having the book proposal ready to send; that's an important step in the process (and, to borrow a metaphor from the conversation above, will make that project "louder," since you'll get replies, and need to reply to them, and so on. Same thing for getting out the CFP; that builds momentum).

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  4. Topic: a timely one indeed for me. The thing I really need to *not* drop this summer is making significant progress on household/financial tasks, because they would provide a better foundation (available time/mental space and a more organized/workable physical space) for other projects (especially getting back to research & writing). With the exception of long-term self-care (i.e. exercising and eating well), they also represent the best investments of my time. They might even, in the middle term, get me to a point where working on a garden would be a task with possible long-term results (as opposed to the uncertainties, and the tendency for problems to erupt at uncertain moments, and for others to insist that I do something about them *now*, associated with my rented plot in a community garden.) And within the exercise realm, I really do want to take advantage of the opportunity to swim while it's easily available (i.e. while the outdoor pool is open at my apartment complex).

    Goals for last week:
    1) Exercise each day (walk, swim, or move mulch, preferably 2 of 3).
    2) Substantial progress on financial paperwork *and* at least one household task with financial implications.
    3) Touch base w/ family member and one colleague; send another card.

    1) Not each day, but most, almost entirely moving mulch
    2) no progress
    3) sent card

    Analysis: the garden (working on it, and negotiating with the garden plot coordinator, which isn't done yet, but I hope is nearly done) took more time and energy than I would like, some of it understandable/necessary, some of it less so (but related to old garden-loss-related traumas, the effects of which I can recognize, but can't entirely eliminate, at least not at the "why can't I stop thinking about this and go to sleep?" level. Still, the problems are solvable, and even the worst-case scenario is entirely manageable, and I think I've done most of the explaining/persuading I can, and will simply have to accept whatever the results are, none of which will be very bad, but might involve rearranging plans -- or plants -- again, which would be bad mostly because it would require mental energy which I'd like to turn elsewhere).

    So, goals for the coming week:

    1) Make at least some progress on financial/household tasks most days (at least 4 days, preferably more)

    2) Swim at least twice (preferably more often), walk at least twice, work on garden/move mulch no more than 3 days.

    3) Touch base w/ family member; spend time w/ friends (this last one is sort of built in, since there's a scheduled event)

    ReplyDelete
  5. Just a quick touch-in to report a not=particularly productive TLQ week last week, and this week already written off in finalising semester one marking and results, and having materials for semester two turned around.

    It's a thought provoking topic. Possibly like others here, i am very prone to focusing on the 'noisiest' tasks (love that phrase), and I have a bad track record of letting self-care slide on the premise that you push through on something and then recover (sleep, nutrition, stress levels, exercise etc) and am only now truly realising you never push through, there is always more on, and older bodies do need all these things.

    So this week, only two goals:
    1. 30 minutes writing time because, damn it, I can find at least that.
    2. Bring in food to work to allow good food choices.

    Karenh

    ReplyDelete
  6. goals for last week:
    1) get Crunchier and Crunchier's Little Brother to the point where they can be sent off to persnickety co-author DONE
    2) this time REALLY get administrative stuff done as far as possible, DONE
    3) send emails, or at least a proper list of the emails that need sending, from the workshop and last Friday's meeting. Sent one email. Ignored the rest.
    4) calendar review ISH, cattery bookings DONE, and being Nice To Jane ISH

    analysis
    a good week until Friday, when it rather fell apart (but I had brought cake in for writing group so ate some feelings. Maybe that was an and rather than a but?). Finishing, as near as dammit, C and CLB leaves me feeling kind of discombobulated - too many options! Too little time! They're all sitting there going "pick me! Pick me!"

    planning: Two days of this week I'll go to the office. i need to work out what to do next. So perhaps some 'one page' free-writing type summaries of each of the papers that are yelling, what needs doing, and how '4-star'-ish they are (stupid REF. But I need to be able to show progress on 4-star papers for the study leave report, and C and CLB are not really that - the original paper, Data-Cruncher, was such a paper, as far as one can guess - these are more concrete and usable but less sexy outputs. But once they are submitted, persnickety colleague will work with me on a grant application, and together we have had better success than separately (the grant that produced the Crunchy-series was a joint one between us). And that needs doing too. Ah me...). SO, this week's

    goals:
    1) start some decluttering in areas where I will see results quickly!
    2) be Good in the meeting on Friday
    3) compose an email to my Head of Department asking about the things he has not replied to me about all semester and which are bugging me (already done this morning but going here as it took a lot of thought and editing. needless to say, no reply...)
    4) write a series of one-pagers for papers that want attention, and do some assessment of what work would be involved in each/which ones I want to work on most. Oh, and give them nicknames, there has to be a fun stage right?
    5) reacquaint myself with my NaNo writing, and write a little.

    topic:
    The thing that has helped me over the last few years is to keep in mind that not dropping a piece of work isn't the same as giving it oodles of time and feeding. I've learnt that much as I find many of the what's-his-name's advice to young faculty book's recommendations irritating (which may be because they're clearly not really designed from my context either institutionally or subject-wise), keeping in touch with one's project regularly really does help. If only because the binge-writing opportunities one has don't start with spending half a day trying to work out what the project was about in the first place! And because for me at least writing WELL is hard, writing clearly about complex material with a modicum of elegance is VERY hard, and the faffing around with references and figures is miserable, actually putting some kind of words onto some kind of page comes easily, as long as I keep doing it. A binge session in which one rewrites a pile of incoherant burbling is for me much more productive than one which starts with a blank page, it's as if regular bad writing keeps the door ajar and the muscles warm, so that the slide from that to doing the hard work of writing better is much easier than facing a pristine off-piste plunge. Finding half an hour here and there in the week is not trivial, and it's not a habit, it's something I still need to consciously do, but when I do do it it helps.

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    Replies
    1. I agree that keeping the project alive and ready to be worked on is key. I think of it like coals on a fire--ready to burst into flame and not completely cold.

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    2. Finishing, as near as dammit, C and CLB leaves me feeling kind of discombobulated - too many options! Too little time! They're all sitting there going "pick me! Pick me!"

      I know EXACTLY what you mean :) It's so hard to pick, and get started again- but I love your idea of writing one pagers about some of them at least. I am going to try this as I think it will really help me sort out what I should do (and, in line with this week's theme, what to drop for the time being. . ). Thanks for the ideas Jane B. aw

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    3. Just today I started thinking I need to write even short bits about the chapter I've been thinking of dropping from the thesis. Recasting the existing version is so daunting that it's been paralyzing. But I also keep thinking about ideas that would make the chapter relevant and helpful. Today, I started jotting down the little ideas, thinking that they might add up to something useful later.

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  7. I always drop the most important things: exercise and PhD work, and sometimes family ,if I'm trying to catch up with PhD work or grading or whatever. In general, I should really stop dropping exercise. I'm getting to that "use it or lose it" age. And for the next several months, I need to not drop the PhD work. I've started realizing how much I'd really like to submit by February. But today is a perfect example of how I end up dropping my work. I wanted to work almost all day because the kids had morning camp and then other plans in the afternoon, but then Hubby asked if I could come with him to pick something out that will go in the new bathroom. So I went. Then, because Hubby had errands to run, I transferred the kids from one activity to another. Then, when I was getting ready to go to a coffee shop, he called from the AT & T store because he was looking at new phones. So I went back in to town to meet with him to sign up for the new phones. By the time I got settled at a coffee shop for PhD work, it was 3:30. This kind of stuff has been constant for the last couple of weeks. I appreciate all of the work he is doing in the bathroom, but he told me he could take over kid duty a week ago, yet he is still assuming I am on kid duty. I need to chat with him. I know he wants me to get PhD work done. I need to do what I planned to do last week: Look ahead at the week with him to make plans so that I have enough time to work. This can be tough because sometimes I feel like he thinks I'm just trying to wiggle out of kid duty, despite the fact that he knows I need the time. He feels conflicted about it all, I'm sure. Sigh. Guilt. Sigh. But I must sort this out. He's given me a couple of work days, but most of the time, I just drop the work to accommodate the family. But I can't keep doing this, or I will. not. finish.

    Okay: venting is over.

    Despite all of this, I had a really good work day on Tuesday, during which I temporarily chucked the current chapter one of the thesis, moved chapter two into its place, and did all kinds of great revision to the new chapter one. I feel a lot of clarify about the chapter focus and organization right now! This clarity makes it much easier to move forward.

    This week:

    1) Walk three times. Swim once. (I walked once, swam twice, did yoga once. Not bad!)
    2) Write 1500 words. (Sort of. I totally restructured a chapter from a previous draft and a conference paper. Not sure if I wrote 1500 new words, but I had a productive day of writing.)
    3) Finish re-reading primary source (No. I dropped this for now because I tentatively decided to drop the related chapter from the thesis and move on to other texts)
    4) Read 100 pages of secondary source material (NO)
    5) procure necessary items for daughter's sleep away camp (and avoid freaking out over the fact that she is going to sleep away camp, and avoid worrying that she is going for the wrong reasons--to bond with a "best friend" who has been neglecting her--and that the whole thing could go terribly). (NOT everything, but some things).

    This week's goals:

    1) Make a plan/agreement with Hubby for work time.
    2) Procure daughter's camp materials
    3) Read four articles/book chapters for current draft
    4) write at least 1,000 words, incorporating references to chapters/articles read
    5) Try not to sob uncontrollably when daughter gets on the camp bus on Sunday

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    1. Congrats on a good solid work day! And chapter clarity! Woohoo!

      Good luck with the not sobbing. I'm sure she'll have a great time, and if bonding with friend doesn't work, maybe she'll have fun with other kids or find some great new passion.

      Those time/duty conversations can be so challenging. I found I really did have to leave to get work done because I was/am the default parent (because I'm the primarily at-home one). The interruptions were constant! I hope it goes well.

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    2. I so relate to this scenario!

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    3. I agree that it is so hard to step back from what family expects of you, especially if you are usually to one who manages kids. A couple of strategies I've found useful are enforcing a hard no on parenting - ie, when I'm working I have pre-arranged with my husband that he is the responsible parent and then leave him to make it work - no pick-ups, no contacting/arranging childcare. Your responsibility, you deal. It's actually quite hard to do, but I did find that having that very clear hand over allowed both of us to respect the line better.
      With home renovations, rather than having to go out and see and decide, can you get your husband to make a short-list with pictures (my husband had great fun setting up a spreadsheet for our bathroom renovations, but snaps on a phone would work just as well) that you can then give input on? Save you time, but I think more importantly when you are doing brain-heavy work, limits to amount of thinking and decision making you have to do. This does rely on trusting his taste, to come extend, and be willing to live with the good enough rather than perfect option.

      Karrenh

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  8. Topic: I'm so much about routines that when crises (or deadlines) hit, I'm pretty useless with projects that take consistent small daily steps. For me, keeping exercise and healthful eating going, and keeping some semblance of regular sleeping (with a planned late night or two) is essential.

    This week: Returning from paradise was challenging. I am still unpacking. My usual goal is to be unpacked within a week, and I'm almost there. Having the kids home all the time is an adjustment too. They're in camp this week, so I'm hoping to Get Things Done this week more than I did last. But I'm hosting my daughter's birthday party here on Saturday, and my house is more clutter-y than I'd like, especially with school friends coming over (most of the houses I've been to are immaculate). I'm trying to balance what's possible with what's ideal, given the time I have and the other things I want to accomplish. I do think scrubbing the hallway walls my kids climb up regularly should be a priority though.

    1) exercise 3x--yes
    2) start evening routine, daily (next day's activity plan, next day's food plan, next day's work plan, etc.)--during the week, yes.
    3) write 3x--nope.
    4) cover letter SFDs for two jobs--nope.
    5) prep list of first 5 agents to query, get query spreadsheet organized--nope.
    6) take care of pesky I-9 form for job--did what I can do for now.

    The evening routine is helping a lot, but I need to keep it up over the weekends, too.

    For next week:
    1) exercise 5x
    2) write 3x
    3) agent/query/spreadsheet progress
    4) cover letters
    5) nightly planning session

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    1. I hope you're able to feel good about accomplishments this week. I know I've been having a hard time not letting birthday planning, camp planning, and various other family needs (along with lots of guilt) totally disrupt my work. I hope you find the sweet spot between ideal and possible!

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    2. Hurrah for hallway walls which your kids climb regularly! We used to climb the doorjambs (we had some arches with flat inner surfaces, so you could inch your way up -- fun!) and slide down the bannister regularly. A friend with kids recently said "but if you had kids, you wouldn't want *them* to slide down the bannister, would you?" I didn't say anything out loud, but the answer inside was "yes, of course, assuming the bannister could take it -- and I'd prefer a bannister that could take it").

      So here's to lived-in homes, clutter and climbed walls and all. At least for me, that phrase brought back very happy memories.

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  9. How do I decide what not to drop? That is a question that I don’t want to answer, because it is always whatever NEEDS to be done. I do not drop sleep—I just can’t do without a good night’s sleep anymore. I also do not drop eating well. I guess I should feel good about that.

    iwantzcatbocl
    1) Work on text for chapters 1, 1a and 2.
    WORKED ON CHAPTER 2. STILL WORKING ON CHAPTER 2

    2. go to campus and take care of administrative stuff over two days
    DONE

    3. exercise 4 times
    I THINK I DID THIS

    4. make flight arrangements for flight at end of summer for big trip
    IN PROGRESS

    5. prepare progress toward tenure letters (half of them)
    NOPE. HAVEN’T STARTED

    6. check in with TLQ group!
    DONE (BETTER LATE THAN NEVER)

    Analysis: I moved my book deadline back a bit. That felt good. On the positive side, I have been working outside the house almost every day. If I get up and leave the house (at a very “reasonable” hour—see note about sleep above) and get in threeish writing hours at Favorite Café, it turns out I feel pretty good about things.

    GOALS:

    1) Work on text for chapters 2, 3 and 4.
    2) Finish chapter 2.
    3) Get deep into chapter 3 (it is a long one).
    4. Go to Favorite Café every day
    3. exercise 4 times
    4. make flight arrangements for flight at end of summer for big trip
    5. prepare progress toward tenure letters (all of them, because they are due Friday!)
    6. check in with TLQ group!

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    1. I think I need to start back into my cafe routine. There are just too many things that need to be done that aren't writing in my home office.

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    2. Yea I am finding the cafe is the only place that works for me. On the bright side, home feels more pleasant when I am here!

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    3. Yep, it's the cafe for me, too. I just need to find a better to way to make sure I can get there! Three hours first thing sounds like a great way to start the day.

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  10. Allan Wilson
    Last weeks goals:
    1. Exercise four times -kind of. About 3 times I think. So I can live with this!
    2. Begin work on CR - no. I am still trying to finish the other nearly finished paper.
    3. Send other nearly finished paper to colleagues for comment. Not quite- but we are making really good progress. Still waiting on input from one collaborator, but immensely grateful for the support of the other one. so close!

    So, the same goals again for this week. I am determined.
    I am not sure I have anything useful to say on the topic. I don't think I always choose wisely what to do- I am often driven by a sense of responsibility or fairness (towards others, not myself!!), or guilt. Stupid essentially I think. I need better criteria for prioritising. But thank you for such a thoughtful and helpful introduction. It has really struck a chord with me. Stick to three things!

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  11. This is a great topic. My answer is that I don't know, but like many others, I tend to drop things that I probably shouldn't (exercise) in favor of noise. I do things that affect others before things that are only for me. Something to think about.

    Anyway, goals for the week:
    1. Desk organizing/clearing so I can see it. Good enough. Some progress, at least.
    2. Bibliography refs. NO
    3. Make Dentist appointment YES!!! Only three months procrastinating on that!
    4. Other emails/ calls re house - a few
    5. Read book for book review - almost done
    6. Book for teaching next year - no

    Analysis: I was at a conference at the end of the week, and then spent two days in NYC with my grand-daughter. I finally got to reading the book for review on the plane home yesterday, and I'm mostly done. But other stuff took priority. And I did go through piles and piles of money requests, bills, etc. so felt much better about that kind of thing.

    Goals for this week -- the last week of sabbatical :( Also, a bit more sociability than I'd like, but I will not make plans for next Monday or Tuesday, so I can really focus on those last two days!

    1. Finish book review
    2. Fix expenses for trip
    3. Go back to the introduction, and see what I need to add/ change etc.
    4. Read through the whole thing one more time.
    5. Exercise daily

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    1. oh, and #6, write book proposal

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    2. Congrats on the dentist appointment! I cancelled mine in April and have not yet rescheduled. :(

      And I think there is a gender thing in the way we drop things for others. I mean, I definitely know that I need to be somewhat flexible when I have a family and I really do want to be there for them, but this past week, I've noticed a real difference in how my husband and I negotiate time. He says, "I need to do this tomorrow." And I say, "Can I please do this tomorrow?" Granted, some of his tasks are more urgent (e.g., painting the bathroom before the tile guy comes), but it still has a huge cumulative effect on my TLQ, and it kinds of bugs me how I so often cave or feel guilty when I don't. All pretty common dynamics, I'm guessing.

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  12. Hello,
    I am checking-in very late, with very short post. Somehow I cannot write much now, but I want to make me sure at least I have done something…

    Last goals
    1) to revise the first part of Chapter 1.- I have started it. Not much yet, but anyway.
    2) to read 3 important articles for the book. - I am still reading one article, but I found it very important and suggestive. Good.
    3) to exercise for 5 minutes several times a day. - not much. On the other hand, I try to move or strech myself when I can. Does it work? I hope?
    4) to eat less snacks at night. - I am gradually being able to avoid eating sweets, but still have some at night.

    Next goals:
    1) To continue to revise Chapter 1.
    2) To continue to read important articles relating to Chapter 1.
    3) To exercise for 3 minutes after one working session (that is, 25 minutes)
    4) To have less snacks, both day and night.

    Have a good week, everyone!

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