the grid

the grid

Saturday 26 March 2016

Week 12--Lowered Standards

Another theme I have noticed among academics is a perfectionism that often leads us to spend more time on things (especially TRQ) than we have.  I tried to grade papers perfectly, cook perfectly, clean the house perfectly, and have found that way lies madness.  Rather than do what Erma Bombeck suggested--saw the room one never has time to clean off the house--what can we do?  

There are things one cannot delegate, most often grading, and those that one can, cleaning, cooking, and laundry. I have tried to define the notion of “good enough,” from the popular dissertation strategy that a done dissertation is a good dissertation, but I am not always successful. Contingent Cassandra mentioned early in this session that grading is a redoubling task, where students ask questions about grades and comments, making more work than the original task. However, finding the point at which diminishing returns may be helpful in preserving time for other tasks.  

Then there are things that one can delegate, whether to another household member or to a paid service. No one in my house puts the dishes away correctly, but I have found that I am more sane if I focus on my not having to put them away instead of things not being in the right place.  If the person I delegate/pay to clean my house doesn’t do things the way I do, I have to weigh the mental cost as well as the financial cost. However, I have found that the house being clean greatly outweighs my need to have it done the way I want it done. If you are not in a position to delegate or pay someone, deciding what amount of mess/microwave meals/dirty clothing is worth the time to do something else may well be beneficial.

There are also things that take time, but pay mental dividends.  I can certainly buy socks instead of knitting them, but the zen of knitting is important to my continued well being. I can buy baked goods, but homemade pastries fill more than my stomach. These things are worth doing perfectly, as long as the pursuit of perfection doesn’t lead one to stress and lack of enjoyment.

And finally, there are the TLQ things, which can be a mixed bag of things that can be relegated to the “good enough” realm--papers that one “has” to do but that are not of great interest, for example.  But there are topics that do interest one, in the way many of us have described the research that is not central to our jobs, but meet a curiosity or interest.

How do you deal with perfectionist tendencies, if you have them?  If you have hints or strategies, please share.

Allan wilson:
1) resubmit whk paper
2)do a bit of the mapping stuff
3) take my daughter out once on her own
4) do a bit of relaxing and refocusing my brain. Rest, chocolate, and contacting an old friend.

Contingent Cassandra:
1. Increase exercise (walks and weight-lifting and perhaps some gardening, but especially walks)
2. Try to get sleep schedule better coordinated w/ DST (taking into account some latish nights due to Holy Week services) and keep up decent eating
3. At least get a start on taxes

Enjoy conference, trip, and give a great talk.

Danne: (from Week 10)
-Touch thesis daily
-Write daily

Earnest English:
1. Research: 3x
2. Health: take care. Good food. Good sleep. Moderate emotions.
3. Family: be kind.
4. Gardening: nope
5. Grading: somehow get it done??? magic? leprechauns?

Elizabeth Anne Mitchell:
1) Continue to work ½ hour a day on footnote revisions. If met, reward myself with ½ hour on researching the sabbatical topic.
2) File 15 minutes twice a day. If met, reward with reading a frivolous novel for ½ hour.
3) Plan for 15 minutes--in the car, if necessary (thanks to GEW for the suggestion).

Good Enough Woman:
1) write 500 words for intro
2) read one article or chapter
3) read 50 pages of a primary source
4) Pay attention to recent minor health complaints of children. Evaluate whether to not I need to take them in.

Heu mihi:
-Read J's ST
-Notes on relevant passages/ideas for Kzoo paper
-N article (German): get a handle on it (what’s relevant?)
-N article (English)
-Read first half of C (for undergrad class)
-Synthesize talk with Chapter 3
-Look at notes on Augustinian reading with caritas

1 Data collection for paper #1
2 Finish and submit abandoned book review
3 Read through current manuscript draft
4 Begin drafting paper #2

1) another hour on Picky Paper and two hours on DrVisit Paper 2
2) wrap and send small presents for Easter to immediate family
3) make a conference/travel list for the rest of the year and make cattery bookings
4) look in three more piles for the passport, and spend half an hour a day creating order somewhere within the house.
5) bed before midnight, 5 fruit & veg a day, little steps…

no work! Knit something. Get out into the fresh air as much as possible. Tick off a few more books on my Good Reads challenge (currently at 13/52 so 'two ahead of schedule').
For the half week after, put a solid day or two into acronym to get it almost done. Finish tidying.

1. Remarks for conference next week (it's a roundtable, so 10 minutes of think piece, not a paper)
2. Organize last bit of summer vacation
3. Begin work on paper revisions that keep getting pushed to the bottom of the pile
4. Keep up with exercise. Walk once
5. Finish weeding the garden! For 10 seconds, I want NO WEEDS!

Friday 18 March 2016

Week 11--Self-care

A common theme of self-care struck me amongst the check-ins last week, for not the first time, or I doubt, the last.  I have often mused that women of a certain age (mine) were socialized to take care of others, and that women (and men) in “helping professions” were more strongly socialized yet, so that students take place in line after spouses and children in having their needs met.  Nevertheless, self-care is TLQ, and often shows up on our goals, whether physical or mental care.  Some in our group face physical ailments, others bereavement or the emotional toll of taking care of aging parents. How do we carve time and energy for ourselves in the face of overly busy days?  Can we do so while avoiding the guilt of seeming selfish to those to whom we grant the right to judge us?  If you have hints or strategies, please share, but even if you do not, perhaps it will help to share the burden with a supportive group.

allan wilson: (forthnightly goals):
1) resubmit whk paper
2)do a bit of the mapping stuff
3) take my daughter out once on her own
4) do a bit of relaxing and refocusing my brain. Rest, chocolate, and contacting an old friend.

Contingent Cassandra:
1. Keep eating and sleeping as well/regularly as possible
2. Support/stay in contact w/ my brother
3. Contribute to group project grant proposal (due at end of week, so TRQ; overall project, though not in my original goals, is definitely TLQ)
4. Plan/replan rest of semester and catch up on grading as much as possible
5. Try to fit in at least some exercise (this may have to wait until later in the week, but even a little would be good).

1) Get talk perfected with great images and photographs
2) Write talk and paper skeleton together so I have something that co-author and I can work on while we are together
3) Mark everything for all classes so I can go away with clear consience
4) Do the 7-minute work-out thingy EVERY DAY, at least FIVE TIMES. The best way to do that will be to just repeat it in one go, but if I have to do it separately it will still work. This will be a good jump-start to the new and revamped exercise goals!

-Touch thesis daily
-Write daily

Earnest English:
1. Research: Keep up the 3x. Do what you can. Don't drive yourself nuts.
2. Health: I really am just going to have to baby myself more. No matter what sign I want to wear, the truth is that I have to be vigilant about taking care of myself this week because no one else (at work) will. Late in the week, I must go get an x-ray. I must take good care of myself and that means rest. That also means not driving myself crazy and potentially absenting myself or disengaging with the bullshit. I must put on hold or hand off anything I can.
3. Family: I think the best thing I can do for the family this week is to take care of myself and try to be as loving as I can. Try to leave work at work. I'm bad at that when the shit starts to rise.
4. Gardening: I'd really like to start peas and salad greens this week. I'm not in great physical shape for that and feel gimpy and weak, but maybe I can get these done. Absurdist Husband said he'd help. (He's surprised and worried that I ignored something that turned out to be more serious than we thought.)
5. Grading without Freaking Out: I will try to grade without freaking out. It's not easy. And I need to give myself breaks this week.

Elizabeth Anne Mitchell:
Stop crying about the lost revisions and do them again.
File the important detritus that surfaced from the nimbus of clutter surrounding my writing chair.
Continue planning--it begins to bear fruit. I have been merrily planning my sabbatical (which has to wait until 2018, but the application can go in this fall, so why not?). It does have the down side that in my ADD way, I’m far more taken with the new “shiny,” than the ones at hand.

Good Enough Woman: (unofficially stated)
As I move forward, I think I need to focus on the intro and chapters 1 and 2, and I need to accept that exercise will be spotting over the next two months. I'd wanted to get the article submission out with the hope I'd get feedback before I submit the thesis in the fall, but that window is closing. At this point, I think I should focus on the thesis intro and chapters. After I get chapters 1 and 2 in shape, I'll pick one to prepare for submission.

Heu mihi:
1) Do ALL of the R&R to-do list items except the ones that involve substantial new reading
2) Revise draft on the computer (I'm doing preliminary revisions by hand)
3) Read 2 articles related to the R&R
4) Read 80% of seminar/ch. 6 book

1 Data collection for paper #1
2 Finish and submit abandoned book review
3 Read through current manuscript draft
4 Read/look for sources for paper #2

1) another hour on Picky Paper and two hours on DrVisit Paper 2
2) prepare for meeting about Problem Child on Friday
3) at least make a rough list of possible conferences
4) look in one pile for the passport. Just one. I can do that...
5) bed before midnight, 5 fruit & veg a day, little steps…

- more work on acronym. Probably type in the longhand comments, tidy up a bit and hopefully send to helpful person.
- tidy up, sort things out, both at home and at work. It's the last week of teaching before Easter so I want to tidy up.
- outreach activity to plan and run on Tuesday. I'm a bit stuck because (a) the student group is larger than expected, (b) I have to do more sessions than expected - 5 instead of 4, and (c) I've got no student helpers so am on my own.

Susan: (officially unstated)

I think I'm unwinding after working so hard for so long. So I've just been letting it happen. Next week is spring break, and then I'll get back into a work mode.

Saturday 12 March 2016

Week 10 - Mid-session checking in on goals

Hello everyone!
Since this is sort of close to halfway (probably closer to the end!) through our session, I think it is time to check in on our overall goals. I find that by this time of the term I’ve usually completely forgot about some of the non-everyday type things I’ve wanted to do, so a reminder is helpful.

Check in below on your weekly goals (listed first), and then your session goals and think about how things can be adjusted or improved or just reorganized to make the best of the rest of the session. If you came in after the first few weeks just add your overall session goals to your comment and discuss. If you have been gone for a few weeks just jump right back in!

For discussion, 2 questions: 
Do your weekly goals move you forward towards the overall session goals?
What do you think would be the one thing you could do to help you get closer to the most important session goals you set?


allan Wilson (from 9)
1. Exercise with more mental commitment, 4x
2. Fix guitar
3. Begin map making process
4. Letter - and send off MS

Contingent Cassandra
1. Exercise when possible
2. Keep to a routine that maximizes possibility for decent sleep (knowing I'm almost certain to lose some for various reasons in the weeks to come)
3. Contribute what I can to the grant proposal for the group project (not an official TLQ goal for the semester, but definitely TLQ-ish in the ways described above)
4. Try to catch up on grading (TRQ, but necessary, and in some ways scratches the "need to be doing something useful" itch)
5. Realize that none of the above may in fact be possible, and regroup/delay/apologize/delegate as/if/when necessary.

1) Conference talk and paper outline
2) Send off samples
3) All research accounting before end of week
4) Do something fun with friends

-Have a little library tour and get new books
-Do something for the thesis every day
-Work on fiction daily

Elizabeth Anne Mitchell
1) Clean kitchen so that we can ask the landlord to fix the stove.
2) Declutter the area around my writing chair so I can find things with less stress.
3) Keep up the 15 minutes of footnote revision a day.
4) I have minor surgery on Friday--be kind to myself.
5) Move like water, float like mist.

Earnest English
1.Toe in Secondary Project pool or in sabbatical drafting.
2.Health: Hullo, stupid! Make a doctor's appointment already. It's not rocket science -- you pick up the phone and dial a number you've looked up on the internet a zillion times and you ask to make an appointment. Capisce? Otherwise, take good care of self. Packed week ahead.
3. Leave a message with the piano teacher. Have a good Thursday with Spirited.
4. I have no expectations.
5. So much work and so much grading and how will it all get done? The slow steady plod. Don't look up; don't look around. Just keep going. Smile occasionally. Give self little gifts. Move like water, determined tortoise.

Good Enough Woman
1) write 1000 words of the intro
2) read 50 pages of primary source material
3) read one chapter or article
4) do yoga 2 or 3 times to help with developing neck problems
5) help daughter publish her magazine (i.e., take her to copy shop)
6) stay on top of grading so that it doesn't become too TRQish and disrupt TLQ efforts

heu mihi
1) Give my talk (a goal that it's almost impossible not to meet)
2) Finish up S
3) Read a chapter or so of CS
4) Do at least two 15-minute free-writing sessions on the R&R
5) R&R to-do list for spring break

1 Write essay for interested/interesting journal that extended submission deadline
2 Reorganize writing schedule for book manuscript (I am behind on the original schedule)
3 Reply to important contact and begin data collection

1) try to stop being in a funk - February is over, days are getting longer, and things really aren't that bad...
2) get all up to date on grading for statistics classes (about 100 students, 5 weekly tests to sort out, all sorts of lates and problems with the VLE autograding that need manually checking and that) - it's not REALLY TLQ, but getting it all done will be very satisfying, it's a good task to do when feeling fed up, and it will clear the decks for a focus on my own research around Easter. Or on New Admin Job, depending.
3) one hour on Picky Paper, three on DrVisit paper 1
4) sleep, fruit and veg, being nice to foot (which is slightly better but not happy overall stupid foot)
5) being kind and patient with dissertation students. actually, thinking about it, I spent a HUGE amount of last week being positive and enthused and kind and patient with students who were busy having minor crises over trivia or insisting it was toitally unreasonable to expect them to know stuff covered in class the previous week because it was a week ago. That... may even be enough to explain the unexpected tired/greyness, coupled with very changable weather - both are emotionally draining. Because I am a wimp, but still...

KJ Haxton
1. Keep on with the acronym report, need to remove around 1500 words to make way for what I wrote last week.
2. Keep marking
3. Tidy the house...there are plans afoot to paint walls so I want to tidy.

1. Start work on short paper
2. Do one chapter of footnotes
3. Read one journal.
4. Exercise 4 times
5. Finish clearing dining room table.

allan wilson
1) spend two hours on average each work day writing
2) work on a novel I want to start writing once a week
3) exercise at least three times a week

Contingent Cassandra
--Do whatever I can to support my family members (father, brother, stepmother, nieces and nephews, and sister-in law) during my father's dying process, while also taking care of myself, and keeping up with my basic professional and other commitments.
--Take care of myself, including working exercise and regular sleep into my schedule whenever circumstances allow (and perhaps sometimes when it seems like they don't), and keeping the pantry/freezer stocked with healthy and easy-to-prepare food (for myself and any family members who may end up crashing at my place).
--making continued progress on the most vital TLQ financial/household tasks (taxes et al. and boxes still sums this area up pretty well).

1) The three papers in revision right now have to go away, and go away forever...'nuff said...
2) Write the first two papers on new field area.
3) Read more papers - will break this down each week.
4) Get exercise back into my schedule - I'm signed up for a very long race in May to help with inspiration.
5) Ski lessons

Earnest English
1. Research: In general, I'd like to have gotten my research world back in order. Specifically, by the end of March, I'd like to have gotten my sabbatical application ready. (Ooh, it makes me nervous just to write that.) Send out unpublished Olive Tree branches. And by the end I'd better have long since addressed galleys of Forsythia, which are currently staring reproachfully at me.
2. Health: I'd like to work on getting some movement, centering (meditating, coloring, whatever), and relaxation into my life on a regular joyous (hopefully) basis. This has to be broken up into steps. And vegetables are to be sought out, even if under a blanket of cheese. Salads at Panera are worth the cost (though maybe not the perils of the snowy drive). I also want to maintain a sense of purposeness and centeredness instead of getting so stressed or anxious quite so often. This is all of a piece (peace!) to me. Must move like water more often. It's all good.
3. Reading: I want to read more books. I want to also stop beating myself up about this. I think this means I need to blog the absurdity out of my system. Sometimes one needs to be humiliated out of one's idiocies. I have a blog for this purpose; I need to use it.
4. Family: There are loads of things I want in here so I know that I have to be careful here because that means there's the possibility of making all this into sticks to beat myself with. I want to prepare more meals than I did in Fall. I want to keep up on gardening, when that comes back up. I want to spend more time working with Absurdist Spirited Son on his education, etc. I want to get a babysitter occasionally.

Elizabeth Anne Mitchell
I want to make substantial progress on my critical edition. It has been hanging around for more than a decade, and I just have the commentary and footnotes to finish.
I want to finish a short story for submission at the end of April.
I want to get in better shape, once I’m cleared for exercise. I need to resume walking, and may have to hit the recumbent bike in the gym as well.

Good Enough Woman
1) Write a solid draft of the introduction for thesis
2) Revise Chapter 1 (I'll call it Spy)
3) Revise Chapter 2 (I'll call it Magic)
4) Revise Chapter 3 (I'll call it Authority)
5) Submit at least one article for publication (probably one based on Spy)
6) Maintain exercise (5x per week of at least 20-40 minutes)
7) Eat more veggies
8) At least two special activities with kids per month (outdoor adventures, craft projects, etc.)

heu mihi
1) Finish drafting ch. 3
2) Write/prepare a talk that I'm giving on March 8
3) Write Kalamazoo paper (for mid-May)
4) Get research for ch. 6 underway

1) plan my conference-going for the year, including abstract submission dates, topics etc.
2) either find and renew my lost and expired passport or just apply for a new one from scratch
3) set up and launch a web page for the project I nickname Gallimaufry
4) make some substantial progress on the paper nicknamed Picky Paper and on either Ferret or Fancy (which are from team projects so not entirely under my control)
5) take small steps every week to make my domestic environment and self-care more of a priority

1. Submit co-authored paper (let's call it Earth)
2. Revisit older conference paper (call it Body) and have a complete draft of an expanded paper for journal submission.
3. Find an exercise routine that works for me
4. Be prepared for major research fieldwork in late March-early April.

1. Write scary paper 2 and scary paper 1
2. Develop research tools for Loop and Kermit
3. 25 hand crafted items.

I want to revise, commit to, and work my research plan for the year (tight plan) and the following two years (looser plan), and to put that plan first in my decisions to say 'yes' or 'no' to 'opportunities' that arise.

1) Write chapter 2 of my planned book.
2) Revise chapter 1 of my book.
3) Write two short articles.
4) Live a healthier life.

1) Only check emails at my desk, never before work and maybe twice at weekends
2) Yoga and exercise every week
3) Apply for several grants to buy me out for research leave
4) Say no to all conference / talk invitations
5) Finish two articles that have been nearly finished for ages
6) Finish translation of book for children (fun!)

1. Finish book ms. (I have maybe 2 days of work before I can send it to a press.)
2. Work on Conference Paper revision, due probably some time in April.
3. Keep up with regular exercise, and add in at least one walking morning a week.
4. Stop checking email on Sunday.
5. Strive to keep up with 7 hours sleep nightly