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Friday, 9 October 2015

Week Four: "Do Just Enough"

JaneB, in her check in this past week, said that one of her goals was to "do just enough" (because doing otherwise can lead to health problems and then not being able to "do" at all). On a related note, Contingent Cassandra talked about tendencies towards perfectionism, and I'm sure many of us have experienced those impulses. This got me asking myself, "What is good enough?" I suppose I should know the answer to this question since my blog eidolon is "GoodEnoughWoman," but I realize that I still sometimes struggle with where the line falls. Here are some small ways, I tried to do "just enough" this week:

  • Bought only one plant for the silent auction basket even though it was small and seemed insufficient.
  • Bought two books for my step-dad's b-day even though I started off thinking I should get three.
  • Told my daughter we could only make one flavor of frosting for the carnival cupcakes.
  • Did not put your names in bold below (very hard to resist).

I'm sure the pressures of the academic term are building up, and we all have to prioritize. For which things will you "do just enough"? How are some ways you do (or could do) "just enough"? How do you know when you've gotten to the "just enough" threshold with the various pursuits in your life (e.g., teaching, grading, attending to family, dissertating, researching, doing service, etc.)?

1) nightly check-in (especially to plan eating)
2) write 5x
3) 4 hours on class prep
4) 4x20 minutes decluttering (bedroom, office, or garage)

Contingent Cassandra
1) continue shopping/eating at regular intervals, and maybe even cook a bit, or at least shop in preparation for cooking during fall break); continue trying to get into better sleep routine (or at least thinking about/planning for how I can do so over fall break); take at least a walk or two, and plan for more.  
2) make additional progress on household/financial tasks (especially financial)

3) check out possible venues/deadlines for follow-up to conference presentation; schedule follow-up

Daisy (from two weeks back)
1) Data for CP1, polish and send away
2) Write conference abstract based on outline for NP1
3) Workshop field guide and program

Earnest English
-GET ENOUGH SLEEP!! (sorry, but I'm really really dreadfully stupid about this one. I have some thing in me that wants to stay up and have me time, dammit, me me!)
-Eat decent food at regular intervals. Plan ahead.
-Stop periodically. Check in. Take a breath. Take another breath.
-Do pilates twice this week.
-Use the relative lull of the early part of this week to pump out that article!
-15 minutes of writing a day is still writing
-Have a book at the ready for moments away
-Chip away at service pile
-Make sure to do the online class with Absurdist Child early in the week and watch Wednesday Nature program.
-Be calm. Nothing is worth killing yourself over.

Elizabeth Mitchell
Write for 7 minutes 5x.
Walk for 20 minutes at midmorning 5x, and add 20 minutes in the afternoon 2x
Organize my next day at the end of the current day 3x.

1) Go back to Chapter 1 to make a few changes (even though I thought I was finished with it)
2) Read 5-6 articles/chapters
3) Write 500 words of Chapter 2
4) Write 500 words of Introduction
5) Do volunteer duties for 5th grade carnival
6) Procure costume supplies and help daughter distribute invitations to Halloween party.

humming42 (from two weeks back)
1. Draft writing plan for manuscript
2. Finish last week’s meditation 
3. Submit book review 

1) be nice to JaneB. Go to the gym at least twice. Pack a lunch. Spend time in daylight. Do just enough. Your goal is to get to December 18th with all classes taught, talks given, conferences attended. Not some done really well then others cancelled due to sick leave. So... enough. OK?
2) spend 1 hour on the grant text, make an appointment/send an email to Incoming about getting permission to submit it (new system. More patronising de-professionalism. Yes, I know, there are many positives and good reasons. But it FEELS insulting, and right now feels are what I have room for. I can't write a grant, work on papers, teach, do my administrative role AND rationalise the edicts sent down from above, rationalising or processing the emotional response takes a LOT of energy that I don't have to spare. I'd rather use it on running away to NaNoLand if I possibly can...).
3) deal with responses from co-authors and resubmit the revised papers, if at all possible...
4) write a couple of paragraphs for International Working Group Thing.

1. Maintain good habits - hard 11.30 screen shutdown, eating at table or in peaceful place, 15 minutes each day writing on P1.
2. Book Christmas travel once husband is back to discuss.
3. Read P1 relevant book and take notes.

1. finalise plan for collecting more scary project data and send out the necessary stuff.
2. finish the preliminary coding of house project dataset 1 and anonymise the submissions for the next stage. Send summary to colleagues.
3. read through report on project (acronym paper) ready to meet with person to discuss finishing the report. 

1) Start to write the article. 
2) Re-read Chapter 1 and 2 and make a revision plan, also start writing, at least a little.
3) Do three minute-exercise three times a day. 
4) Write for 15 minutes on the article every day.

Maude (from two weeks back):
-So I guess the next two weeks I'll pound out some research and then turn what I have from the conference paper into a full length article to send to him.
-eat right, sleep, and workout during all of this

a. prep lectures, but don't overdo it
b. write & send off grading rubric for essays
c. meet w/colleagues 
d. TRY AGAIN: 5 mins on HA paper, 4 days
e. walk daily, lunch in pleasant environment, no email/computer at night, go to bed on time 

metheist (from two weeks back):
1) Edit 10 pages of Behemoth
2) Refamiliarize myself with 'goddess' book
3) Prep week for 2 classes
4) Cook 3xwk.

1. Final read and send off review
2. Book tickets for December trip to UK
3. Write short proposal for art exhibit
4. FInish reading MS, and make revisions.
5. Outline syllabus for next semester


  1. I like the 'do just enough' or do things so they are 'good enough' ideas. Having grown up with 'always try your best', it's difficult to unlearn the habit of trying to make things the best they can be and then guilt set in. On the other hand, so many things do not go badly because they are done good enough. I find good enough gives me permission to stop fretting over a task. So the paperwork is good enough, spending 4 hours prepping for a meeting is good enough, eight hours is excessive. That kind of thing. Marking is good enough, whole cohort feedback (so they can benefit from the mistakes made by others that they might not know enough themselves to make yet, is good enough. Good enough is for the routine stuff and the paperwork. Better than good enough is for things that matter more to me.

    Last week's goals:
    1. finalise plan for collecting more scary project data and send out the necessary stuff.
    2. finish the preliminary coding of house project dataset 1 and anonymise the submissions for the next stage. Send summary to colleagues.
    3. read through report on project (acronym paper) ready to meet with person to discuss finishing the report.

    1 nearly done but couldn't face another long session with the photocopier. 2. Done (took way longer) and a good enough summary sent to colleagues. The summary wasn't perfect but as only one of them commented on it in any capacity (including acknowledging receipt), good enough was just fine. Didn't anonymise it yet because I was a bit worried that I hadn't got everything I needed before anonymising it. 3. Done and have vague outline of plan to finish the report. Generally this week was a bit of a whirlwind of TRQ and fire fighting silly things. Also was trying to get ahead before being out of office for 3 days next week.

    This week's goals:
    1. Face the photocopier and sort out the scary project research tool for another class. Sort out the online version for distribution.
    2. Double check the non-anonymous house project data set then anonymise the set. Work out if I can apply for funding for a research assistant for the next stage.
    3. Write out a plan to finish the report (acronym project) and paper.
    4. Read draft of thesis for student and complete book chapter reviews.

    I'm away for parts of this week so item 4 and 3 can be done during train journeys or in odd half hours as I wait for things to be begin or end. Item 2 is a 'sit in the evening and take the front cover off' type activity. Item 1 should be straightforward (about an hour or two of effort.

    1. And now I have not only a term but a justification for something I do already -- "whole cohort feedback." Thanks!

  2. One thing I find with trying to settle for a 'good enough' level on things is to find a way to stop projecting what I think is enough and let other people help set that. So I've reduced any attempt at gourmet variety in meals for the next few busy weeks after being informed by the 4 year old that he wants stirfry, pasta and Grandma food (i.e. plain cooking); detailed comments on marking has been replaced by a completed rubric, a couple of sentences of feedback and an invitation to make individual appointments to go through papers... But this whole enough is certainly something I can work on further.

    Last week:
    Slightly chaotic with visiting parents, second-last week of semester with a random local public holiday on Thursday thrown in. Beautiful spring weather has menat that time in the garden has seemed much more urgent and attrative than marking (of which there is bucketloads!)
    1. Maintain good habits - hard 11.30 screen shutdown, eating at table or in peaceful place, 15 minutes each day writing on P1.
    Yes on screen, slow improvement on eating habits, writing abysmal.
    2. Book Christmas travel once husband is back to discuss.
    Done! I've booked transport, husband figured out route and accomodation.
    3. Read P1 relevant book and take notes.

    This Week:
    Last week of semester, so there's a fair element of just getting through it survival here, plus 4 year old's birthday party on the weekend. On the TLQ goals front:
    1. Continue screen shutdown and eating in the best place rules.
    2. 15 minutes writing in the office first thing (or first thing after teaching) each working day.
    3. Try yoga/physio stretches for 5 minutes each morning.

    1. I definitely need to work on my grading "good enough."

      And good job on the screen shut downs!

  3. Hello,

    1. Topic:
    It is always difficult for me to stop ‘good enough’ point. Therefore, I have so many things on which I worked too much and also there are others on which I have worked so little. Reluctantly, I must admit my class preparation is the first things I say ‘Ok, this is good enough’. The problem is, I tend to overwork on the things on which I must easily be supposed to think ‘Ok, this is good enough’, on the other hand, I work less on the things I think ‘there is no ‘good enough’ on them’, and this is sometimes my TLQ projects.

    2. Last goals:
    1) Start to write the article.- Well, get started, but only that.
    2) Re-read Chapter 1 and 2 and make a revision plan, also start writing, at least a little. - tried to do it, but only thinking of them.
    3) Do three minute-exercise three times a day. - twice a day or so.
    4) Write for 15 minutes on the article every day. - anyway, I worked on the article every day.

    3. Analysis:
    It took me for some time - a lot more than I had expected - to plan the article. Anyway, I have started, but still long way to go, but still, anyway, I have started.... Three-minute exercise plan seems rather good. I feel good after it.

    4. Planning:
    There will be some preparation work for a large seminar for students of which I am one of the organizers, besides usual preparations for the next term. I am starting one-month intensive sessions, where I am going to talk with individual students for their projects. Another busy week, but I would like the seminar a success, and the talks with my students a success, too. Still, I will set my mind on ‘Create time to write and stick to it’.

    5. Next goals:
    1) Finish at least a draft of one of the sections of the article.
    2) Re-read Chapter 1 and 2 of my planned book, and revise them.
    3) Do three minute-exercise three times a day.
    4) Write for 15 minutes on the article every day.

    Have a good week, everyone!

    1. Glad to hear you can feel the effects of the 3-min workouts. Positive effects bode well for habit-making, I would think.

    2. Thank you, Good Enough Woman! 3-min workouts does good to me, it relreshes me, but it sometimes makes me feel 'Oh, I'm getting old, only 3 minutes enough for me...', hahaha.

  4. Topic: I too have a difficult time with doing just enough. I am a people-pleasing perfectionist. Whenever I try to do just enough, I usually have someone point out that I completely goofed up. So then I go back to trying to be perfect.

    Last Week's goals:
    1) Edit 15 pages of Behemoth--only about 5 pages
    2) review part of one book--picked it up but not much else
    3) cook 3xwk--only once

    Analysis: A weird last couple of weeks. We have a week off this coming week so I am looking forward to just focusing on my stuff.

    New Week:

    1) Clean house
    2) Write two tests
    3) Write two chapter packets
    4) Write three lectures
    5) fix calendar for rest of term
    6) Edit Behemoth every day
    7) Read book for review
    8) Start to outline review

    1. Having a system for your calendar that works is something that always makes me feel like I am managing!

  5. Hi all,
    what a good topic to ponder this week. I don't think I am very good at the 'just good enough' idea, which is probably partly why I end up stressed and tired. . I wonder whether monitoring time goals helps with this- eg if I set aside a certain amount of time for a project, this might help me to move on and not delay until the work is perfect. allan wilson
    Week 3 goals:
    1) Exercise at least 4x - YES, very easy to do on holiday, and with family support
    2) Not work on holiday- mostly yes. I began my holiday on Saturday, and resisted the temptation to check my emails until Tuesday lunchtime. Because we were in a holiday house elsewhere, this was easier to do than usual, and there was no readily available internet, so I didn't even have a computer. As soon as I did check them though, I could feel my stress level rising, so essentially it was a really dumb thing to do. I should have waited. Once back at home on the Thursday night, a return to bad habits, and I checked my emails several more times to 'clean out my inbox'. Yeah, right. Keeping work out of the holiday was much harder once we were back in town. Still, overall, I did my best and managed a bit of a break.
    3) Do a bit on JL paper, with the aim of having it fully revised by the following week. YES. The challenge is now to finish it this week.

    This week's goals:
    1) Give paper draft JL to bountiful leader for comment
    2) Exercise 4x
    3) Keep eating on track by staying away from rubbish foods and sugar in particular
    4) Think about how I can do 'enough' and know when to stop.

    1. I love the idea of a time-limit for "good enough" tasks. I sometimes do that with chores and cleaning, and it might be good to try it with class prep, too. I suppose deadlines force us to settle, too.

      Great job on exercise! Could have been easy to be lazy. So on the next vacation, do you think you'll be able to ignore the email?

  6. Topic: Doing “good enough” and eschewing perfectionism. My DH told me long ago what became my favorite quotation: “The perfect is the enemy of the good.” My job consists of fighting against perfectionism, because the work yields great results for 80% effort, then the effort grinds uphill swiftly for insignificant returns. It does hurt my perfectionist heart to proclaim that work is good enough, but I assuage myself with making a perfect cup of coffee, or quilting something with tiny stitches in a perfect curve. For most things in my life, good enough works.

    Also at work, I have to measure the human against the organization. If I have to choose between a personnel issue and writing the perfect meeting minutes, dealing with personnel and people will always win. It’s more effort, but it is more important, to my mind. I know that I am extending my perfectionism too far when I am exhausted. Last night, I slept for nearly ten hours, which is stunningly unusual. I know that I need to pull back a bit, but I hope the personnel crisis of last week is over for the moment.

    At home, I can live with a fair amount of clutter, but not dirt, so good enough differs from one to the other. Dishes do not build up in the sink, but papers and magazines do festoon my coffee table.

    Last week’s goals: Write for 7 minutes 5x. No. Climbing back on the wagon this week.

    Walk for 20 minutes at midmorning 5x, and add 20 minutes in the afternoon 2x. Yes, it was wonderful to have the break from the computer.

    Organize my next day at the end of the current day 3x. Yes, and I was amazed how much it helped to keep me on track the next day.

    Analysis: Last week was madness. I was in charge of four departments, not just my one, and one of them imploded with supervisory issues, and I spent hours being sister confessor. It was worth it to know what was going on and what I could do to address it, even if I couldn’t fix it immediately.

    Next week’s goals: Write for 7 minutes 3x; 5 minutes 2x.

    Walk midmorning 5x, and midafternoon 5x.

    Declutter my desk for 10 minutes 5x
    Organize my next day 5x.

    I hope all have a great week to come!

    1. Your mention of quilting reminded me of the story of weavers weaving in a mistake into every piece to remind themselves that imperfection is a part of being human.

      And I'm with you on the clutter is okay, dirt is not!

    2. My grad school roommate and I once considered posting a sister quotation to "the perfect is the enemy of the good" in our living room: "a done paper is a good paper."

    3. I gave the commencement speech at our graduation in May, and I used the "enemy of the good" quotation. The philosophers quibbled with me afterwards, though, because, in Platonism, by definition, the good is perfect. They are right, and so I got a little freaked out. But they conceded that they knew what I meant. I decided to just hope that people didn't remember their Plato well enough to be disturbed. And to try to be okay that my speech wasn't perfect. :/

    4. I like 'a done paper is a good paper'. I must put it on my PC, now I am struggling to write a paper...Both 'the perfect is the enemy of the good' and 'the good is perfect' have the sense of truth to me. Good sayings.

  7. Good enough. There are lots of things I'm so behind on, it's not good, but I'm trying not to stress about it. Just because there's a giant pile doesn't mean I shouldn't take breaks and have a little me time. I'm doing my best, and that's it. If I overexert myself, I'll get sick and then what?

    Last Week's Goals

    GET ENOUGH SLEEP!! (sorry, but I'm really really dreadfully stupid about this one. I have some thing in me that wants to stay up and have me time, dammit, me me!): I did better. I discovered I really like sleep, but I forget every night until I hit the pillow.
    -Eat decent food at regular intervals. Plan ahead. Tuesday sucked. Friday was better, but I still felt weak at the end of the day.
    -Stop periodically. Check in. Take a breath. Take another breath. Yes. Doing as much as someone with ten minutes between two very different classes can. Now I know what the students sometimes have that lost look -- they've just suffered whiplash from one subject to another.
    -Do pilates twice this week. No.
    -Use the relative lull of the early part of this week to pump out that article! No, but I got it done today. There are all sorts of problems, like I totally didn't follow through on the word count we'd agreed on, which I know is an obnoxious academic problem, but. . .it's good enough. I'm so glad it's done. I have a ton else to do.
    -15 minutes of writing a day is still writing: and I did that several days, though it was sometimes hard.
    -Have a book at the ready for moments away: yes
    -Chip away at service pile: there wasn't much chipping this week, though I did a couple things; the pile still remains, mostly
    -Make sure to do the online class with Absurdist Child early in the week and watch Wednesday Nature program.: yes
    -Be calm. Nothing is worth killing yourself over. This is my mantra. I really don't want to have any more serious health problems.

    This Week's Goals

    -Keep calm. Nothing's worth killing yourself over. Move like water.
    -15 minutes of writing is still writing.
    -Take magnesium supplement 2x a day and see if that makes me feel better.
    -Be organized about food and eat and admit when I need a break.
    -Be good enough about grading and prep.
    -Read more, when possible.

    1. Sounds like you did quite well with many of your goals! Kudos! And congrats on the "good enough" article.

  8. I work really hard on good enough: the book review was good enough, the letter I wrote for the committee was good enough, etc. My cooking is good enough. It's really helpful to figure out what you really want to get as far as you can, and what can be, as Elizabeth Ann Mitchell says, 80%. But it's a constant struggle, and I get sucked in to writing long emails that aren't necessary, but allow me to say what I think are important things; but since they are controversial, I end up perseverating far too long to make sure I don't say anything incendiary. That's probably a place where I could use "good enough".

    Anyway, last week's goals:
    1. Final read and send off review YES
    2. Book tickets for December trip to UK YES
    3. Write short proposal for art exhibit YES
    4. FInish reading MS, and make revisions. Finished reading, but haven't entered all changes Should finish Wednesday.
    5. Outline syllabus for next semester NO.

    I was pretty organized, and my new morning exercise habit has really helped my work rhythm --- at least three days a week, I start really early.

    I have a couple of big disruptions this week -- a day trip out of town, and visitors through my church who are descending on Thursday for a night, so ...
    1. Keep up with the exercise. Extend outside MWF.
    2. Input rest of revisions to ms, send to editor and friend.
    3. Start work on conference paper for next week (really, this is TRQ, but . . .
    4. Move forward on syllabus planning.

    I've probably forgotten something, but I must go to bed. I've stayed up much too late trying to clear my desk so I'm ready for tomorrow morning!

    1. I hope you have a good week, even with the disruptions. Regular exercise has changed my work habits as well. After 3 days of no exercise, I had a hard time getting out the door this morning, but if I hadn't, I'd still be lounging around (we have the Columbus Day holiday today).

      Congrats on all you got accomplished this past week!

    2. Emails are a tricky one re 'good enough' - they are so easy to misunderstand, and then a long email discussion can ensue. Also, I spent ages yesterday crafting an email to a colleague with whom I am having a professional tussle. But, yes, so time consuming. aw

  9. Ugh. I missed check in last week. I got into a massive groove with cleaning and trying to work, so all else went by the wayside.

    Good Enough for this week--
    I hate to say it, but do just enough to stay ahead of the game and be caught up for the classes, even the on-line grad class. I will work on that class today and then I'm letting it hit autopilot for the week.

    Finish the small research for the article. Write at least 30 minutes three times this week. The article needs to be sent out next Tuesday-ish.

    Stay on top of laundry, which is good enough for this week and meal prep.

    Five workout days (seriously, I need it). And in bed by 9 every night for the rest of the week.

    1. Welcome back! Sometimes it's great to get into the groove in some areas. I love the sense of accomplishment of a big burst of work.

      Hope you have a good week!

    2. It's funny how so many of us bring up teaching as an area where we strive for "good enough," but only reluctantly/guiltily so. I can think of a couple of possible (and overlapping) explanations: (1) it's the ultimate expands-to-fill-space-available activity (despite or perhaps in part because of having a relatively close final deadline, at least per course), and/or (2) it's an activity involving humans to whom we feel responsible (see Elizabeth Anne's point involving personnel/people issues above).

  10. GEW can attest that for a long time I've been in "good enough" mode with my academic writing. For the most part, I'm not one to wonder if I've missed some crucial source. But I do have some perfectionist tendencies. Mostly, I've got too many things going on to have any energy for that last 20% of push that doesn't add as much value. (The opposite is true in my non-academic writing--it's that difficult last 20% that makes the difference between fine and publishable.)

    One of my big joys these last couple months is having some editing/critiquing projects. It's so encouraging to read others' work and to be able to help them see it with new eyes. And reading what other people are writing always helps my own writing. And some of it is giving a gauge of where "good enough" is.

    When I was finishing my PhD program, my husband encouraged me to read the worst dissertations my department had passed in the last 5 years. Then I knew the low bar--the minimum good enough. (Similar to Karen's idea of letting others set the bar.)

    I'm fighting with figuring out what "good enough" a bit right now in prepping the online class I'm teaching. From the instructional technology people's side, they've given me a class in a box that I should just go with. From the course designer's side, he suggested a number of significant changes he thinks I should make to the course that will make it easier to teach and make it better for students. Because I'm 1800 miles away from campus, I'm not sure how to negotiate the changes I want to make (that have been sanctioned!). Argh!

    This past week:
    1) nightly check-in (especially to plan eating)--most days
    2) write 5x--3x
    3) 4 hours on class prep--9+ hours
    4) 4x20 minutes decluttering (bedroom, office, or garage)--1 hour total

    I ended up not in my home office much this week, so it felt pretty fragmented. My husband took the kids all day Saturday so I could work on prepping the online course, and I got a ton done. The nightly check-ins made a huge difference in my productivity, especially at the end of the week when I would normally get lazy.

    This next week is a big push week for me because my online class goes live on Friday. If I can keep from committing to being anywhere else in person, I'll have a good amount of work time set aside.

    Goals for the week:
    1) nightly check-in (plan the next day, plan food, plan exercise)
    2) stay consistent with exercise (4x) and cleaning the bunny hutch (2x)
    3) write 3x
    4) 1 hour total decluttering
    5) (TRQ, really) class prep

    1. Online teaching is *definitely* an expands-to-fill-space-available activity, and some instructional designers are more helpful/realistic than others. That yours is mentioning what will work for you as well as for the students strikes me as a good sign -- or maybe I'm overly pessimistic in my view of instructional designers; I've encountered a few who seemed to think only from the student's point of view, and as anybody who's held down a significant teaching load, or a smaller teaching load juggled with other significant responsibilities, that just doesn't work. Class designs have to be realistic for the teacher, while living an actual life that is not entirely built around the class, as well as the students.

      For whatever it's worth, I'd suggest prioritizing tweaks that will make responding to student work easier for you, since that's the biggest time commitment in online teaching (especially if some of the course design has been done for you), and timely feedback is especially important to online students (since it combats the feeling of isolation/work going into a void). That aside, I'd say prioritize whatever sounds most interesting and/or transferable to you, keeping in mind that an online class, like any other class, isn't built and refined in a single semester.

      If you'd like to discuss online teaching in greater depth anytime, let me know (leave a comment here, or email me at contingent.cassandra at gmail, which I'll try to remember to check; the comment might actually be more efficient! and I'll email back from an address I actually check). I'm actually taking my institution's (newly-created) online course in online teaching this semester (almost 5 years after I started teaching fully online, and a decade after I started teaching hybrid courses, but so it goes; I figure it's a good idea to be able to cite some "official" training, and at least they seem to have planned things to take advantage of the collective experience of the group).

    2. And I just found out I'm actually not permitted to make changes to the course. It has to go into an official course development process. That makes my job easier up front but harder in implementation.

      It turns out the course designer was treating the course like a regular in person one, where the instructor has autonomy to make changes as needed within the curricular parameters. Not so with this online course.

      And now to undo all I've done.

    3. After speaking with the instructional tech person, it seems the course designer didn't fully understand the role. I think he would have made the changes to the course after he taught it if he realized I wouldn't be able to. Ah well. I'm going to have to figure out how to rewrite a terrible essay assignment (mostly done, just needs a final once over and final approval) and how to make grading the discussion questions workable. I wrote a rubric for the course designers suggested revision, and I'm not sure what I have will work now!

      One of the things I love about teaching is being able to have some autonomy within a broad structure (like a curriculum document). This class is certainly not it!

    4. Sorry to hear this has been a hassle. The only good thing about a bad pre-packaged course is not having the hassle of development. To have the hassle without the autonomy is doubly frustrating. Argh.

    5. Yep. It's not what I was expecting. I did end up emailing the head of the program (who makes content decisions) and asked permission to make the changes. We'll see.

  11. Good question, especially for this time of year, when things are getting busier and busier, and are likely to continue in that vein until the semester/term ends. As I've mentioned before, I'm something of a recovering perfectionist (recovering for a long time/perhaps too well recovered in some areas, or maybe that's just the perfectionism speaking; it's hard to tell sometimes). I do like the idea of choosing areas in which to strive for "good enough"; that strikes me as a good way to strike a balance between caring (or at least doing) too much, and caring (or at least doing) too little. I've definitely found a "good enough" approach to actually having meals in the house (buy frozen ones if necessary, but don't end up having to go shop for each one individually, which leads to irregular meals and procrastination due to hunger and wasted time in general) has worked pretty well in the last six weeks or so (since I let cooking slide to focus on other things), and actually led to getting back in the cooking groove this weekend (see below). I'm also pretty good at taking a "good enough" approach to teaching, which I periodically feel guilty about because I have a teaching-only job (though not a tenure-track or particularly well-paid one, so there's some justification for taking time from teaching to spend on activities that keep me employable and/or help make up financial deficits); I tend to assuage that guilt by reminding myself that I also have a 4/4 load of writing-intensive courses, which is considered 1/2 to 1/3 too heavy by pretty much every relevant professional association I know of (though I think the NCTE may have adjusted its recommendations to fit reality recently).

    For the coming month, I think the main "good enough" goal needs to be a class I'm teaching at church -- a repeat of one I did about a decade ago (on the Bible and GLBT issues, so while the cultural, societal, and even denominational context has changed quite a bit, the relevant Biblical criticism really hasn't). I think it's important to do it again (because our congregation, though fairly liberal, tends toward a not-talking-about-it approach on this issue), but, for the purposes of this iteration, I don't need to do nearly the depth of reading I did the first time; I can draw on (quite good, perhaps too good) handouts I made the first time, and update a bit (or not, depending on how the time works out).

    Sticking to good enough on food also makes sense: keeping ready-to-eat meals of some sort in the house definitely increases my efficiency, but they don't always need to be frozen soups/stews of my own making (which is my ideal approach). Even a can of sardines and an orange makes a pretty good meal in a pinch (well, maybe not breakfast, but I seem to find breakfast easier than other meals).

    1. Last week's goals:
      1) continue shopping/eating at regular intervals, and maybe even cook a bit, or at least shop in preparation for cooking during fall break); continue trying to get into better sleep routine (or at least thinking about/planning for how I can do so over fall break); take at least a walk or two, and plan for more.
      2) make additional progress on household/financial tasks (especially financial)
      3) check out possible venues/deadlines for follow-up to conference presentation; schedule


      1) more cooking than anticipated (and now I need to do some freezing and other follow-up); better but not completely consistent sleep routine (and lapses tend to create further lapses); no formal exercise (i.e. walks) yet.
      2) no significant progress on either household-organization or financial fronts, but no major backsliding either.
      3)nope, and it's not going to happen this week, either (some adjustment of goals may be necessary due to the fact that I signed up for an online class is teaching online classes; see above. I didn't expect it to be offered this semester, but it was, and now seems like a good time to do it for various reasons. If something has to give, it's going to be the research/writing goals. The class starts this week, so I should have a better idea of the time commitment in a week or two. I did do the final edits for a forthcoming publication today, but that was all-but-finished a very long time ago, so it doesn't really count as active research and writing, though going through it gave me some ideas for additional pedagogically-focused writing/freelance work, so that's a bit of progress on that front).

      This week's goals:
      1) Do necessary follow-up on finished cooking (mostly freezing) and additional cooking as time allows.
      2) Keep trying to establish more regular sleep/wake times (though I'm generally a believer that one can create/maintain a habit without doing it every day, sleep is probably an exception, with rare exceptions to that exception).
      3) walk -- at least once, preferably twice or thrice. The weather is beautiful, and the temperatures are conducive; now's the time to get back into this habit.
      4) some progress on household/financial tasks (especially financial).

      That said (written), I'm going to go take a walk.

    2. Congrats on the food prep and decent sleep schedule. I tried to remind myself that a healthy snack (as you say) can be a fine meal. For me it's often veggies and hummus.

      As for writing, I would say that final edits count! Especially since it's so easy to leave things not quite finished.

      I hope you had a beautiful walk that inspired more walks.

  12. Sometimes I feel like a perfectionist who won't settle for "good enough," and other times I feel like a totally lazy person who isn't even getting into the "good enough" ballpark. I think I do "good enough" when it comes to prep, but I could definitely streamline grading (or is that just a fantasy?). I have been a perfectionist with curriculum, and have, thus, driven my colleagues crazy. But seeing crappy curriculum documents approved drives me crazy. Maybe it's time to stay off of that committee for a while? I also sometimes accept being a "good enough" parent, about which I have mixed feelings.

    Right now, I'm mostly struggling with what makes for a "good enough" PhD dissertation. I need to find some bad ones to read, but I can't find many online versions in my discipline from my uni. I think submitting a couple of articles should help me gauge my existing quality. My supervisor is very busy, so I'm not getting much from her right now.

    Last week's goals:
    1) Go back to Chapter 1 to make a few changes (even though I thought I was finished with it)-->NO. I decided to wait until I get some other feedback, then make the changes all at once.
    2) Read 5-6 articles/chapters-->YES.
    3) Write 500 words of Chapter 2-->NO.
    4) Write 500 words of Introduction-->NO. I've decided that I'm just not ready to write the intro yet.
    5) Do volunteer duties for 5th grade carnival-->YES.
    6) Procure costume supplies and help daughter distribute invitations to Halloween party.-->Not quite complete.

    I've had other things encroaching on my work time. It will happen some this week, but I will try to limit the impact. But I swam three times, which was great!

    This week:
    1) Complete paperwork for conference reimbursement that must be sent through both email and snail mail (involved scanning, going to the PO, etc.).
    2) Read 5-6 chapters/articles.
    3) Write 500 words for chapter.
    4) Evening checks-ins to schedule the next day.
    5) Get supplies for daughter's costume and the Halloween party that she's hosting on the 23rd. Help her send invitations.
    6) Clean out fridge.

    1. Have you tried looking at online dissertations in your discipline at other unis? Are there any other PhD students around that you could swap notes with?
      Submitting articles is a good strategy for gauging your level and getting extra feedback, but they can also be a good signal to PhD examiners that your work is 'good enough'.

      Swimming three times in a week sounds heavenly. I took my kids to teh pool today after having dragged them in to class and spent most of the time being jumped on - next week I will try to make time to go by myself...

    2. The swimming *is* heavenly. I am already fretting about what I'll do when the weather gets bad and when sabbatical is over. How will I have time to swim? I'm hoping I can still make it a priority, and I'm hoping I can still handle swimming when it's colder outside. My kids are getting old enough that it might get easier to make the time. And if I could just finish the dissertation, I'd certainly have more time . . .

      Yes, I think if I could find other recent PhD theses from anywhere UK in my discipline, they would be good indicators. Since my uni is in the UK, it's probably best that I look at theses from the UK. I will keep looking.

    3. My trick for swimming in December and January is to tell myself I only have to go in for 5 minutes. Then if it's too cold, I can get out. I'm always warmed up enough in 5 minutes to keep going. And in the early mornings I just tell myself "don't think about it, just go." I did wimp out on Monday, though. :)

  13. Thanks for this great topic...enoughness is something I’ve been trying to work through myself lately. My greatest victory was probably the moment when I realized I was leaving the house to go teach and forgot to put on makeup, then walked out the door anyway. Tiny thing, compared to the guilt I heap on myself for not grading all the papers, and writing all the assignments, which would then enable me to write all the articles.

    More guilt for not showing up for TLQ last week, which is all about privileging other things over self care. I saw a tweet that rang so true to me: You don’t have to set yourself on fire to keep someone else warm.

    Two weeks ago:
    Read remaining chapters for book review 2--read one.
    Work on IRB paperwork for co-authored project--no.
    Do some research for October presentation--no.

    I ended up with an urgent rush to get the grant proposal drafted, which meant I didn’t do any of the things I intended to above. I will get to hang out with co-author tomorrow to do a service project and hope we’ll have a chance to touch base on the project. Not that we’ll actually be able to work on it though, since we have to entertain a bunch of students for about three hours.

    For the week already underway, I am focused primarily on research stuff here even though the grading and class work is piling up.

    Week ahead:
    Revise methodology section for grant proposal.
    Make an appointment to meet with one committee member.
    Do research for rapidly-approaching October presentation.

    1. Progress on the grant proposal is good, too, yes?

      I hope this week you'll also have time for self-care, with or without makeup!!