the grid

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Saturday 28 January 2017

Week 4: Order from Chaos

One thing that struck me reading through our goals last week was how many items related to restoring some kind of order in our lives. We've got goals this week for cleaning desk areas, getting on top of routine tasks, trying to find some calm or not creating more chaos, making to-do lists, unpacking boxes...  We're spending a lot of time on this!

I also spent some time this last week reading about bullet journals ( and I can't recall if one of you posted the link, or where I first saw the term. I tend to rebel against systems that require me to do a thing in a specific way with lots of different codes, colours or rules, but I was happy to note that my academic diary (one side of the page is days of the week, the other is room for notes) and the way I keep it was rather similar to much of what they suggested. I felt like I was doing better at organising because some external source validated it.  I also reached a point this week where writing a to-do list felt like it would be counterproductive - so much to do, such a long list, completely overwhelming.  And no fancy note book, coloured pens, or coded set of bullet points was going to change this (it was a bad moment - coloured pens weren't going to work?? AAagggghh!).  So what happens when organisational things become the complete opposite of mindful - a new source of pressure?

This week, what's the worst organisational technique you've ever tried on yourself or on others? What looked really good on paper/in print/online/as sold, but turned out to be a horror? And why?

Contingent Cassandra
--keep trying to stay ahead of, or at least on top of, teaching tasks
--keep moving (as much as cold allows)
--make at least chili and pesto
--do some financial stock-taking
--check in with brother
--begin blog and other work for online class

1 - Figure 1 for three posters
2 - Don't let conference talks wait and languish - finish 2 of them
3 - Run three times
4 - Data processing for conference posters

Dame Eleanor Hull
1. House: Clear auxiliary desk area of study (roughly 2' x 4').
2. Research: Touch the revision project every day: add a reference, read through old notes, write one sentence.
3. Teaching: track down a short story I want to teach in a few weeks.
4. Health: make plan for once again rehabbing my wonky ankle. (It can be done. The trick is not straining it again by doing too much too soon when it’s feeling better.) Spend ½ hour a day on stretching, yoga, weights, to preserve some level of fitness while not doing ankle-stressing cardio (swimming also hurts, so not an option). Use transition periods to sit, if only for 3-5 minutes.
5. Fun/social thing: lots of resistance here; I really feel like cocooning. More jigsaw, I guess, and some coloring while listening to music; sci-fi TV with Sir John.

Earnest English
-Grounding: get adequate sleep! Eat well. Active self-repair on stressful days: baths, music. Meditate or yoga or stretching twice this week. 

-Spirited: get back to therapy and HS; read book

-Gardening: check to make sure I have the right artichoke seeds or get them ordered; other gardendreaming? plants in office?

-Plan and plod: need to work more devotedly on Tuesday and Wednesday this week in order to not get behind; responses need to get done; journals need to be looked at and recorded; work on annual report; go get stuff for presents (Store 1 and Store 2)

-Writing Project: keep morning time for writing (not work!); 1x this week and regular research 

-Big Report: respond to report draft

Good Enough Woman
1. Do all corrections to thesis.
2. Submit thesis for final binding.
3. Get lab work done that the doctor ordered at my appointment last week.
4. Make appointment for X-ray (kidney stone follow up).
5. Walk dogs four times (I'm dog sitting my mom's dog for three weeks, which is going to be rather disruptive, but it motivates me to get both dogs [mine and hers] out of the house so they'll be tired. That's good for me, too.)
6. Enjoy my time with the kids while my husband is away this weekend. Maybe plan a outing into "town"?

Heu mihi
1) Synthesize writing group's comments on intro and create to-do list
2) Read first 30 pages of next research book
3) Read student's dissertation chapter (one of them)
4) Draft rec letter for student

1 Finish film review and submit
2 Read 4x
3 Write 4x
4 Be mindful about not creating chaos by taking on too many projects

1) deliberation, mindfulness, call it what you will. Finding and/or being the calm point in the chaos.
2) an hour on Ferrett
3) an hour on the grant I wish I'd never started
4) get a new passport photo, and send off the paperwork for the visa to ExoticCountry
5) declutter something somehow

1. Reading lists!!!!
2. Get everything out of boxes in my office; have home library/spare room ready for visitors to be able to locate and sleep on the sofa bed.
3. 3 x articles, 2 x 30 minute writing session
4. Start a artist residency application
5. Packed lunches, move regularly at work (use a timer if needed), yoga x 1, gym x 1.

- progress on marking and teaching prep
- compile annual report for local activity, write agenda, chair meeting and hopefully put together an activity programme for the year
- edit down acronym paper
- complete two manuscript reviews

1. Work on relat paper - this really needs to happen this week
2. Finish aims and start on strategy
3. Read for fun (currently reading A Series of Unfortunate Events - inspired by the Netflix series)

Friday 20 January 2017

Week 3: Making mindfulness work for you

A lot of us regularly list various sorts of "mindfulness" goals. Mindfulness should be its own reward, of course, but there are also tangible pay-offs for observing our own reactions to things. Such awareness kept me focused, or at least prevented a downhill slide, on a couple of occasions in recent weeks. At a department meeting, when our chair announced prestigious book contracts or publications for a couple of colleagues, I noticed my reflexive jealous reaction, and tried to shift my focus to "What can I do to be like them?" rather than letting the jealousy spiral down to "I'm no good." And when grading this afternoon, I was happily working through the stack of very short assignments, making helpful comments, until I got to the one (only one) that demonstrated serious problems in syntax and understanding. Then I really wanted to quit, but noticing my surge of despair about student abilities once more let me re-focus on the students who were doing the assignment more or less correctly, and the need to be as kind and helpful to the really awful one as to the ones who had a shorter distance to go to "good."

What useful mindfulness moments have you had lately?

Goals from last week:

Contingent Cassandra
--Get as much on top of class prep and planning as possible, in hopes of minimizing teaching-related TRQ eruptions this semester (prepare as many class materials as possible in advance, list future to-dos, preferably for entire semester):

--work some movement into each day (with possible rests on Thurs. and Sun. in deference to fact I’ll be walking/standing a lot on Sat.)

--cook ingredients currently on hand (a pot of chili, some more parsley pesto, maybe some carrot soup)

--do some financial stock-taking

--check in w/brother

--coordinate marching w/ friends, spend time w/ them during march

1 - Prepare everything possible for oncoming (and definitely disastrous) "labour interruption" and hope it doesn't happen
2 - Finish drafting of figure
3 - Run three times for sanity
4 - Write one conference talk

1. De-clutter and organize my study.
2. Plan revisions to the recently accepted article; contact editors with self-imposed deadline.
3. Finish writing syllabus. Get more stuff up on Blackboard for both classes.
4. Eat safely; walking or cardio every day, stretching every day, two yoga classes, sit 3x.
5. Two social activities already on the schedule this week.

Earnest English
-Grounding: in bed on school nights by 11pm! Eat well. Active self-repair on stressful days: baths, music. Meditate or yoga twice this week.
-Spirited: keep up therapy and HS

-Gardening: check to make sure I have the right artichoke seeds or get them ordered; other garden dreaming?

-Plan and plod: plan and announce a couple 2-hour blocks of working to catch up and prep; get stuff done and prep; respond to responses; get two needed meetings on the calendar; plod a bit on annual report

-Writing Project: keep morning time for writing (not work!); get documentary watched; fill in annotated bib

-Big Report: get in touch with Colleague D and make a regular time for touching base about this. Figure out where we are on this and what needs to be done next.

Elizabeth Anne Mitchell
Pack and prepare for traveling and for the meetings.
Eat sensibly while traveling.
Write five sentences a day.
Overcome the reluctance and write up dream planning.

Dr Good Enough Woman:
1. Finish two syllabi on the plane.
2. Finish all syllabi on Monday and upload them to LMS.
3. Take kids to farmer's market on Monday (this will be a sparkly thing!)
4. Get all things to Repro for this week and following.
5. Attend two doc appts on Wednesday morning before class.
6. Go to son's robot competition on Wednesday evening.
7. Move like water through the week, especially since I'll be jet-lagged and feeling very unprepared for teaching my classes and won't really have a chance to get caught up during the week.

Heu Mihi
1) Actually finish both syllabi.
2) Finish last book for grad class (two evenings should do it!!)
3) Finish working through chapter.
4) Exercise two times (Mon and Tues).
5) Eat ice cream post oral surgery.

1 Revise book reviews and resubmit
2 Finish film review and submit
3 Read 5x
4 Write 5x
5 Make origami bookmarks

1) continue to make progress with Very Basic Decluttering Project (sometimes keeping things verrrrry simple works for me...)
2) spend an hour on Ferret
3) act deliberately, and take time to deliberate before reacting (I do love words like that where a shift in emphasis in pronunciation shifts the meaning a little, even if they make English such a sod to learn for others...)


1. Get reading lists off to library for three classes.
2. Move more - try to do at least one sun salute every day, 1 x gym, 1 x yoga class.
3. Read 3 x articles (1 per work day)
4. Take packed lunch and snacks to work each work day.

- progress on marking
- tackle teaching prep for first week of semester (ugh, module handbooks, updating quizzes, cleaning up notes)
- graduate and spend time with family
1. Finish syllabi
2. Write abstract
3. Pay bills
4. Clear desk

1. Work on relat paper (my goal is to get this completely revised by the time mentor returns to the US - which is in 2 weeks
2. Draft specific aims for K grant
3. Draft conference award application and send to mentor
4. write outline of diss manuscript before thursday meeting

Friday 13 January 2017

Week 2: Settling In to the New (Calendar) year

 Hello All!

This past week seemed to be highly varied - many of us were gearing up for semester (and still tending the piles of marking from the previous), some of us were already back in full swing. I've stopped sulking (well sort of) that the Christmas tree and the 'sparkle' has been removed. There's  something about the sparkles of the lead up to the holiday season that pulls me through December. So my suggestion for an addition to all of our to-do lists this week, is to bring the sparkly back! What thing can you do this week for the sheer joy of it? Something for pleasure, fun and just to bring a little spark back in?  

Goals from last week:

1 - Three conference abstracts for submission next week
2 - List of paper/conference talk figures
3 - Make one figure from list above

Dame Eleanor Hull
1. De-clutter and organize my study so it is functional and attractive for the coming semester, and so it will be easy to do a second round of decluttering before the house goes to market.
2. Review the recently accepted article, plan revisions, contact editors with self-imposed deadline.
3. Plan classes, write syllabuses.
4. Eat safely, test one new food; walking or cardio every day, stretching every day, two yoga classes, sit 3x.
5. Two social activities already on the schedule this week.

Earnest English
-Grounding: in bed on schoolnights by 11pm! Eat well. Active self-repair on stressful days: baths, music. Meditate or yoga twice this week.

-Spirited: therapy exercises, HS twice this week; figure out about classes?

-Gardening: check to make sure I have the right artichoke seeds or get them ordered

-Plan and plod: plan and announce a couple 2-hour blocks of working; get stuff done and prep; contact Colleague L and P about backup plans for snow days; get needed two needed meetings on the calendar.

-Writing Project: keep morning time for writing (not work!); finish current research reading (may take another week); 1x; send out to deadline

-Big Report: get in touch with Colleague D and make a regular time for touching base about this. Figure out where we are on this and what needs to be done next.

Elizabeth Anne Mitchell

Finish plan for the month of January.
Walk the dog twice daily.
Write five sentences daily.
Edit one page of Prudence commentary daily.

Good Enough Woman
1. Read the thesis/dissertation twice before the viva.
2. Read three articles/chapter by external examiner that are not cited in the thesis (others are, but not these).
3. Re-read judgment articles before viva.
4. Review my notebooks before viva.
5. Try to relax during plane flight (I am a nervous flyer, and the weather in CA is a bit stormy today).
6. Finish one syllabus (or two?) while on trip.
7. Enjoy a couple of things in London!

heu mihi
1) Start running again, which may mean just twice at about 2 miles per run. (I'm still recovering from bronchitis + a touch of pneumonia. Nearly back to normal, but I don't want to push it.)
2) Rewrite ch. 1's intro and conclusion. Add in fiddly bits that are obviously missing from the notes.
3) Read the last totally new book for my upcoming grad class.
4) Finish one syllabus.
1 Submit book manuscript!
2 Finish syllabi
3 Revise book reviews and resubmit
4 Read 5x
5 Write 5x

1) Get some exercise, and sleep a sensible amount each night
2) Resist the urge to buy more 'goodies' and eat up remaining Christmas treats slowly and savouringly (is that a word?)
3) Make good use of the writing day (I'm currently thinking of working on a paper nicknamed Ferret, since that is at a point where solid writing might be useful, and perhaps on zero drafts of two grant ideas. need to pin that down!)
4) Send a few emails regarding the possible trip

Goals for this week:
I return from leave on Friday this week, so goals are pretty limited.
1. Enjoy the rest of the time with family, low expectations and take the easy option on return travel
2. Reconnect with home with some garden time, and very mild declutter/organise as we unpack.
3. Gentle re-entry for one work day - focus on Master's student, start setting boundaries around email checking and system for noting tasks for later and designate times for student appointments.


- edit down acronym paper
- tackle the marking mountain
- come up with a comprehensive to do list
- get out of the house, at least to the nearest Pokestop each day!
- make progress on knitted shawl

Goals for the coming week:
Reformat the bibliography
Put a regular block of writing time on my calendar.
Go to sleep by 11pm
Run 2x
Write 1 syllabus

So my goals will be VERY modest.
1. Finish and post syllabi for classes that start next week.
2. Clear out email that got backed up at the end of the last semester (things you can do without books)
3. Draft abstract of Way Outside Essay
Depending on what's happening, I may try to go to My Favorite Library for a day to work.

1. Submit conference abstract
2. Work on study recruitment
3. newsletter, etc.
4. spend time on relat paper
5. Do something fun every day

Friday 6 January 2017


A new year, somehow shining and glistening with new promise at the same time as being slightly tarnished by the final months of 2016.  For those of us in the Northern hemisphere, light will gradually start to seep into our days, while those in the Southern hemisphere will find the darkness creeping in once more.

We're aiming for 15 weeks, taking us through to Easter weekend for this block. Generally check-in posts will go up on Fridays for comments and updates.

The format will be the same as ever, but a recap: we will set goals for the whole session and then for each week. It's really easy to get carried away setting goals so I encourage you all to be optimistically realistic without creating a new source of pressure to perform! Goals can be in any aspect of life although the key focus is often writing tasks that are personally (and professionally important) but that never quite tip over into important AND urgent. Each week there will be a discussion topic, generally prompted by checkins the previous week but feel free to suggest topics to throw open to the group. If anyone wishes to include images in their checkins that I can put in the recap of goals post the next week, feel free to email them to me (kjhaxton at gmail). We'll recap the session goals for updating and refining at least once during the session, as well as the weekly goals. Feel free to comment on everyone's goals as much or as little as you like.

So for this week:

1. Who are you? What's your main focus at the moment? And where are you based?

2. Goals for the session. For the last couple of sessions we've framed this as what would you like to sit down and feel satisfied about over a cup of tea (or coffee or hot chocolate) in 15 weeks time. Common themes include research, home stuff, self-care, crafts, exercise, writing, gardening and you can be as detailed or brief as is helpful to you. Many of us give specific projects nicknames that help us keep track of things. I've started using those nicknames as part of the file system on my computer so I have folders called 'House', 'Scary', 'Kermit' and all the other silly project names I use here. If you anticipate any challenges for the weeks ahead, you can note them too.

3. Goals for the coming week. What do you want to get done in the next week? I would encourage you to be quite specific in your goals. I often find that setting a goal that is the obvious next steps in a big task is more achievable than 'tackle big task'. And don't forget, a lot of this is about the satisfaction of ticking things off the to-do list. So you can be as detailed as you want to in breaking goals down.

And finally, don't worry if you miss a few checkins. Life happens.