the grid

the grid

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Time for a new session - Middle of 2017

Hi everyone, I missed you!  I haven't managed to discuss this with my co-lead yet, apologies, but I'm pretty sure we agreed to restart this week, so, let's go for it! And iron out details later if needed... 

This iteration of the TLQ group will run from now until the last weekend in August (25-26 August), which looks like 14 weeks to me.  Everyone is welcome to join, new or old, and as normal for the mid-year session (Summer in the northern hemisphere, winter in the southern) it's absolutely fine to drop in and out depending on travel, vacation and other commitments.

This week, we need to set session goals as well as weekly goals.  Let's use the commenting format:
1) brief introduction/update (you never know, we might get some new members?)
2) set some mid-year session goals - these can be all about TLQ academic stuff, all about TLQ personal stuff, or a mixture
3) set a small number of goals for the week ahead

For a discussion topic, how do you go about setting goals for a long period like a summer break?  I've been setting goals for summer "vacations" since I was a little kid, when I used to fill pages and pages of notebook with things I'd do in the summer, and still don't really know how to do it so that I don't over-commit myself and cause unintended stress, but don't find myself feeling like I achieved nothing significant at the end of the period.


  1. Thanks for getting us started JaneB! I just got back from beach camping and was going to fire up the session today, but it's great that you beat me to it. We were definitely on the same wavelength.

    I'm GoodEnoughWoman (aka, GEW). I'm a tenured instructor (we don't have professor ranks) at a two-year community college in California where I've been teaching for nearly 20 years, and I just completed my PhD in Brit Lit in February at a UK university where I studied part-time. I'm married with two kids (ages 12 and 14).

    Topic: Well, lately, every summer seems a bit different, so my goal-settting strategies have been different, too. This summer is the first in nearly a decade that I haven't had to work on the PhD, so I am casting about in the freedom (in a good way). We're going to be doing a lot of work around the house (moving the kids into separate rooms, building me a library/office in the backyard, etc.), so I'll have a lot of house-related goals. Our travels plans are all currently up in the air and I don't know what's happening when or where. In addition, a couple of weeks ago, my mom was struck by a sudden and rare disease that causes some paralysis (sometimes permanent, sometimes temporary), and I'm not quite sure how much help she and my step-dad will need. Fortunately, she's local and, also, she has a great attitude. Clearly, I will have to move like water, float like mist.

    Originally, I'd planned to work on a chapter-to-article revision this summer, but this week I got a rejection for my first post-thesis submission, and so now I'm having a crisis of faith. I don't have to publish for my job, but I do like my scholarship and wanted to put some of it out there into to world. I think I can address the criticisms of the reviewers, but it might take a lot of work, and I just don't know if it's how I want to spend my time. Maybe I should focus on other things? Like researching science fiction for the course I'll teach in a year or so? The imposter syndrome is strong right now, and part of me feels like saying, "Yep. I fooled the thesis examiners, but I can't fool the rest of the world, so I'll just move on."

    Anyway, I think I need to spend this week figuring out my session goals (and dealing with my acastential* crisis), so I'll come back later and add my session goals to the comments.

    Goals for this week:
    1) Set session goals and make some decisions about academic writing for the near future.
    2) Get grades submitted by Wednesday at noon! (This is really TLQ, but it has a huge impact on the week, so I'm putting it here.)
    3) Swim at least once.
    4) Order b-day presents for daughter, help her with invitations.
    5) Find/plan some good healthy recipes for summer.
    6) Go to dermatologist. Do not cancel appointment!
    7) Take a van load of books to donate to the library (this might get pushed to next week, but I'll go ahead an put it here.)
    8) Help daughter remember to practice for next weekend's piano recital.

    *Not really existential, but acastential. I don't know if that's a word, but it totally should be.

    1. The first article out of my new program of research was rejected from the first journal I sent it to. It took me months to regroup and work on revising the paper and submitting it to another journal. I think sometimes journal rejections are just about fit with a specific journal - and sometimes it is just about who happened to review the article. I don't think deeper meaning than that should be made (although it is hard not to!). Part of what helped me realize that is seeing how many of my mentor's papers get rejected from journals. Yet, she has a massive publication record! And is extremely well-funded by the NIH! One thing that helps me with revising papers is to write out the reviewer comments in my own words into a to do list - that helps remove some of the sting from the reviewer comments.

    2. My version of the post-thesis acastential crisis was running away to Canada for a long trip!

      Taking some time to figure out what a summer looks like without the monolithic presence of the PhD overshadowing everything else seems sensible to me. And if you do want to talk sf, let me know (this was actually my PhD topic, though I've moved sideways since).

    3. The standard advice for rejections is to send the same piece somewhere else, immediately, without changing a thing. If the reviewers have comments that make you say "Oh, yes, I totally should have done that," then you can do that. A writing group or writing buddy can be super-helpful in working through the comments and helping you decide what's a point you want to take on board and what's down to the reviewer not getting what you're doing or just having a bad day.

    4. It totally should be a word!

      My supervisor told me that if you don't get rejections it's often because you're not submitting to the best places for the work (as in, you want it in the most competitive journal that will take it, not in a "safe" one).

    5. An author who I admire tremendously recently said that her first (major award winning) novel was rejected 41 times before she found a publisher. I was astonished that such a marvelous book was rejected and that the author had the resilience to continue sending it out. I was also encouraged to know that when the right opportunity takes shape, it can be extremely rewarding.

    6. That is encouraging... in a depressing kind of way...

    7. Thanks for the input, everybody. It helps.

    8. Best wishes to you mom (and you, in figuring out how/how much to help).

      Another vote for not letting imposter syndrome in the door on the basis of one rejection (isn't the Dame's bugge spray good for that? or maybe you just need a screen door, to allow for continued communication with the outside world, but some filtering of which feedback gets to take up even semi-permanent residence in your head?). On the other hand, yes to saying yes to things other than publishing parts of the diss if you find that that's what you really want to do. I can't offer much in the way of post-diss advice, since my own post-diss crisis was rapidly subsumed by a family conflict/crisis, but I do think those of us in positions that don't require a traditional research track should at least take advantage of our situations by doing what we want with our writing/research lives.

  2. Hi everyone!

    I’m a post-doc at a large state university in the midwest moving this summer to an extremely intimidating university in NYC late this summer. I do research at the nexus of psychology and health within a highly marginalized population.

    Topic: I don’t yet have a good sense as to how to set goals for longer periods of time because I’m still trying to figure out what is reasonable - and I feel like my current work landscape is just constantly shifting, and priorities keep shifting. If I get my NIH grant (currently approved by council - just waiting for the director to approve it) - that will force some goals because I will have to stick to the plan I laid out in my training plan. Until then - I have 17 manuscripts in various stages of completion (from planning stages to R&R) - and that is overwhelming.

    Session goals:
    1. Submit trans paper
    2. Resubmit aging paper
    3. Resubmit relat paper
    4. Submit gender paper
    5. Submit discrepancy paper
    6. Submit PTSD paper
    7. Submit scoping review
    8. Get a handle on longitudinal paper
    9. Figure out story for IPV paper
    10. Figure out story for suicide paper
    11. Move?

    Week goals:
    1. Full draft of trans paper
    2. Get aging R&R close to done
    3. Make headway on relat R&R
    4. Make progress on lit search for scoping review
    5. Read a few more gender articles and add to intro

    1. That sounds like a busy summer! Glad you are here with us again, and I hope this group helps with breaking the overwhelming into manageable chunks.

    2. Wow, so many manuscripts! One at a time makes sense... I try and only have one at each particular stage when I have a lot of writing on, so one where I'm doing analysis and blocking out the paper, one being drafted, one being polished, one having all the details tidied up... but I guess you have a LOT of co-authors, as I do, which means that control of many of these things is not yours! One foot in front of the other, one word after another, and you are going to have a ridiculously long c.v.! :-)

    3. Wow. That is a lot of irons in the fire. It might time for a (re)read of Bird by Bird (except you probably don't have time). We're here to support your as you go step by step!

    4. Wow! This *does* sound overwhelming, but also like real progress -- the move finally finalized/confirmed, and the NIH grant close to approval.

      It also sounds like some of this progress will also help narrow/focus your goals, so this is probably a temporary state of too-muchness, with some direction soon to come.

  3. I'm Dame Eleanor Hull (DEH), a mid-career American woman professor of English (medieval literature), trying to get enough writing done to advance to full professor from associate, where I've been stuck for a long time. Married to a man, three cats, too much house: another goal is to get this house sold and move somewhere easier to maintain.

    I'm going to tackle the topic next because it relates to session goals: my summer divides neatly into three parts, which makes it easier to set goals for the longer periods. Counting the week just past, I have six weeks at home, then five weeks in the UK teaching undergrads from my home institution (Large Regional University, or LRU), and then three more weeks at home before the fall semester starts. When the summer isn't chopped up, it's much harder to do the chopping myself; it's very pleasant to experience that childhood sense of an almost endless summer stretching before me, even if my adult self knows it's all too short.

    Session goals.
    *First six weeks: primary goal is packing up my house and doing necessary maintenance to sell it. I'm trying to put in 1-2 hours a day on research and teaching tasks.
    *Five weeks in UK: in addition to teaching responsibilities, which involve field trips as well as classroom work and grading, visit two places of personal significance, and ramp up the research considerably, since I will be living a few minutes' walk from a major research library that calms and inspires me.
    *Final three weeks: take a week off from all work, then prep for the fall semester, mop up whatever tasks need mopping. With any luck, unpack in new place.
    *Product goals: sell house, move; review all sections of translation that I have yet to review; get two R&Rs out the door (probably a good UK task); read, take notes, and move my book project forward; finalize syllabus for UK teaching; plan for fall classes.

    Goals for this week:
    *Pack and re-organize in basement so as to move some upstairs stuff down there out of the way.
    *Spread more mulch in the garden.
    *Finish making my study show-able; continue guest room packing; start on either kitchen or living room.
    *Take at least one carload of stuff to charity shop.

    *Review one chunk of translation.
    *Write 1000 words (notes, questions).
    *Prep summer Blackboard site enough to open it to students.

    1. Five weeks of travelling sounds challenging, if fun - your feline overlords will not be impressed!

    2. They'll still have the male member of staff, at least most of the time (we hope he can come see me for a week or so), so at least they'll have some of the normal personnel. :-) =^..^=

    3. Your summer seems clearly parsed. I hope those different sections of summer will allow for deep focus and productivity. And fun!

    4. It also sounds like the other member of staff might end up dealing with a significant portion of the house-showing/selling bother, which wouldn't be a bad thing, especially after you've accomplished a significant portion of the clearing-out. It also may be easier to write in the UK if your study in the US has to be in showing form.

    5. You haven't seen the messes Sir John is capable of creating . . . even without feline assistance. I'm wondering if we could move him and the cats out somewhere while I'm gone.

  4. And thanks to JaneB and GEW for hosting this summer.

  5. Hello All, thanks to JaneB and GEW for hosting. Yay! It's back :)

    I'm Katy, a senior lecturer in a UK university. It's going to be an odd summer as I'm on sick leave so this session should take me though the end of treatment and into phased return to work. My goals will be an odd mix of things I suspect, which isn't that unusual for the summer. There will be some work stuff (despite the sick leave - don't ask, it's tactical) but at a greatly reduced pace.

    Topic: overall else I like the freedom from obligation that the summer should bring. The sensation of an uninterrupted span of time, possibilities branching out wherever you look...and the crashing reality of all the stuff that still has to be done. This should have been my first full summer free of an admin role, but it's the summer of oddity instead so I'm going to make a list to help me keep on track.

    Session Goals:
    1. Recover from surgery (it was last week) and finish up the current rounds of treatment. Negotiate return to work.
    2. Submit an abstract for, create a poster for (assuming abstract accepted) and attend conference at end of summer
    3. Finish some knitting projects
    4. Start and finish a printing project

    Week goals:
    1. get walking a mile or so a day mainly to get out of the house for a while
    2. make progress through some marking tasks
    3. tidy around the house a bit without picking up anything heavy

    1. Yay, surgery past, it's all progress! Ah, the tactical working-when-on-leave, I know it well... knitting goals are definitely important ones!

    2. Best wishes for a speedy and comfortable recovery--and happy knitting!

    3. I do wish you have nothing but freedom summer in front of you, but nevertheless, the goals seem manageable, which is good for recovery, I would think.

    4. Glad the surgery is past, and that you have, if not the full, leisurely summer of all of our dreams, at least time for a reasonably-paced return.

  6. Hi all, I'm JaneB, mid-career at a "squeezed middle" UK university in a STEM discipline but working in a "mixed school" (so my immediate colleagues are variously trained in a mix of STEM, social science and humanities disciplines). We're "on a Change Journey" which is about as unpleasant and annoying and disruptive as it sounds, and faced with the usual problem of middling institutions of having relatively under-prepared students who deserve and need support and good teaching, minimal resources for research, and very high expectations of Excellence Without Money and Continual Improvement In Face Of Decreasing Staffing Ratios.

    We don't have proper academic summers here - meetings and examination related work drift into July and start again early September, and in August there's major work around admissions and Outreach To High Schoolers. It's frustrating as it makes it hard to really relax or to reacquaint oneself with one's inner scholar (as opposed to one's inner "least publishable unit generator"). I'll divide my summer into two chunks, 6 weeks from now until the end of June (which has most of the "tidying up this year" stuff in it) and then 8 weeks of July and August (which has more of the "I used to be a researcher dammit" stuff in it).

    For the first six weeks, my goals are something like
    1) domestic chaos reduction and self-care (semester recovery)
    2) conquering all assessment paperwork efficiently and putting modules "to bed" as tidily as possible (i.e. with changes for next year either made or clearly identified, etc.)
    3) having a good set of lists of preparation for late September, and having the main logistics for the early October fieldtrip in place
    4) complete analysis for ProblemChild project, and have drafted our parts of the first two papers (for a meeting on 29th June when we hopefully get all the authors together and submit the darn things)
    5) make good progress on PickyPaper
    6) finish and submit that GrantINeverShouldHaveStarted!
    7) go through and act on all the notes from the conference and workshop I just attended, the two I went to in March, and the things I've left aside in my email since January (or at least add them to a single list).

    For the coming week:
    1) get as much of my own grading finished as possible
    2) have a Nagging Schedule for all the paperwork related to grading which depends on other people doing their grading (have I ever mentioned how much I hate team teaching?)
    3) make sure all my advisees have made appointments for 1:1 meetings, and have as many of those meetings as possible.
    4) run ProblemChild analyses (try & finish step 6 before end of weekend)
    5) move a noticeable amount of stuff every day around the house (could be a load of laundry done, a carrier bag of recycling removed, a chair's worth of clutter organised and put into a box, anything like that)
    6) eat no refined sugar (starting tomorrow. There was a cookie incident today. SIGH).
    7) go to bed before midnight.

    1. It sounds as if you're looking ahead to get some tasks done for fall so that the research part of the summer will be just that: research. I, too, have thought about trying to spend some time next week getting a few things finished for fall while they are fresh in my mind, but it is so difficult to do that instead of just running away at a full sprint.

    2. Run away! Run away!

      (That was a Python reference, wasn't it?)

    3. I, too, can see the value in doing some stuff well ahead (if you're sure it will pay off; if I'm remembering correctly, teaching assignments and such at your place are pretty unpredictable/changeable these days, so maybe not?), but not if I'm so exhausted that it takes forever to do something I'll do much more quickly in the fall (because I'm more rested, or just because it has to be done before classes start).

      Also, apropros of nothing, I learned this week that the programming language Python is named after Monty (rather than, as I had assumed, the snake). This makes me even more intrigued with the idea of learning it, though that's another thing for the long-term research/writing list (I did go to a 2-day workshop where some people were making good use of Python scripts to prepare data for other purposes; this counts as briefly touching tools for longterm research plans, but not much more than that).

    4. We just watched Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and my son has been reading a Python programming book. This is a fun fact I can share with him!

  7. Yay summer TLQ! I’m Linda, AKA humming42, glad to start a new session in good company. I’m an associate professor teaching in the humanities at a mid-sized state school in a small US town.

    Topic: Session goals are a bit challenging, because I am having trouble deciding what I want to do since I don’t have many significant commitments and can choose from among the 17 projects I have listed on my trello board. I do have a few TRQ things, which I will include on the list. I’ve always enjoyed reading excessively during summer, and this summer I’m looking for a good balance between fiction, nonfiction, and research-related reading. Mostly I am concerned about making the most of summer break.

    Session goals:
    1 As ever, write 5x/week
    2 And also, read 5x/week
    3 End of month Pop revision
    4 Revise and resubmit book review
    5 Meet deadlines for Talk project
    6 Draft outline for workshop
    7 Outline and lit review for Snow project
    8 Pick and complete a project to submit for conference

    This week:
    1 write 5x
    2 read 5x
    3 write Pop revision
    4 sketch on preliminary outline for workshop

    1. Overwhelming choice - we get so used to scrambling it can be hard when that goes away. Sounds like you have plenty to be getting on with, and "reading excessively" sounds like a goal I could wholeheartedly adopt!

    2. "reading excessively" (and not in disconnected internet-delivered chunks) needs to go on my list, too.

  8. Hello, I am Matilda. Could I join?

    Thank you very much for hosting this session, JaneB and GEW. Very nice to see your names on TLQ again!

    I teach medieval history at a private university in a non-English speaking country. I am a mother of a daughter of 8 and a son of 5. My husband works for a different university far away from mine.

    I have enjoyed TLQ for several years before I faded out last year. Now I am on my study leave for one year, and from this April I have been staying in UK with my family. It is wonderful environment actually I am in, I am very happy with it, but my research has not made enough progress as I expected. Perhaps I had expected too much for a study leave? You have things to do wherever you live anyway…

    Setting goals for a longer period means to me to start to make a calendar, starting the day I am planning to start, and writing events and day-by-day schedules in each cell. It makes me realise how long - or, rather short- period of time I actually have. Then I try to set goals considering what I can actually do, trying to be practical and considering realistic goals. HOWEVER, I usually become too ambitious, like this time, that is, a big plan for my one-year study leave!

    Anyway, my session goals are:
    1) Finish the revision of the first drafts of Chapter 2~5.
    2) Make a concrete plan of the structure of the book.
    3) Establish good eating and exercising habits.s

    Goals for this week:
    1) Finish the outline of Chapter 2.
    2) Write first draft of Chapter 2.
    3) Finish reading a book.
    4) Make a plan of the holiday coming soon.

    Have a great week, everyone!

    1. Nice to see you again, Matilda!

    2. Yes, Matilda. Welcome back. I'm glad to hear you got your study leave and that you have been enjoying your time in the UK. And, yes, I think most of us have study leave goals that are overly ambitious. I hope the group will help you focus on your most important goals!

    3. Welcome back! And yes, judging from watching friends deal with study leaves, I'd say that they're shorter than they seem, and that other parts of life that we've been ignoring have a way of rushing back in to take up space. Maybe you needed some time to settle in, and now is a good time to come up with a more realistic plan, with a clearer idea of your energy level, living situation, etc., and how they affect your opportunities for making progress on your research?

    4. Great to see your names again, everyone, and thank you for your comments! Yes, it is important to be realistic and see what I actually can do in my current environment.

  9. Hello, everyone! I'm an associate prof. of medieval literature at a state flagship university in the Northeast. I'm up for tenure this fall--again--I had tenure at my previous job, which I left in 2015. Very happy in the new job, where I have actually developed a near-daily writing habit! I'm also married with a son, age almost-5. One of the TRQ things I'll have coming up is birthday party planning....

    The topic: I'm not at all good at this, and one of the things that's currently causing me stress is how much travel I have planned this summer. I'm just back from my college reunion, and the week before was Kalamazoo; in 8 days, I leave for Berks; on June 19, I leave for three weeks in Europe (two conferences + 10 days in Scotland with my husband and son); upon return, I have about 10 days here and then head to the beach with my whole family (including both parents and their partners). Then I have August to hole up and refuse to leave the house. On the one hand, I'm really excited about these trips; on the other, I yearn for months of unstructured time in which to write and relax.

    However, my other summer anxiety--which is ridiculous if you think about it--is that I won't *enjoy* the summer enough. So I'm trying to look at the trips during which I won't get any work done (Europe, mostly; the beach) as forced relaxation and enjoyment. I am going to do my best not to worry about the work that isn't getting done during those times.

    Of course, that means that I need to work pretty steadily the rest of the summer!

    Session goals:
    The first three are non-negotiable:
    1) Revise Norway talk (by 6/18)
    2) Draft tenure statement (by 6/1); revise it (by 7/1)
    3) Write ACLA paper (by 6/18)

    The other big goal is...finish Book 2! I don't need to have this done by the end of the summer, strictly speaking, but for various reasons I want to. This involves the following sub-goals:
    4) Revise chapter 3
    5) Revise chapter 5
    6) Revise chapter 2
    7) Full read-through and revision
    8) Write a conclusion

    For this week:
    1) Get to the halfway point in chapter 3 revisions (p. 22)
    2) Finish reading RK; take notes on it
    3) Read an article related to ch. 3
    4) Pick up library books and prioritize them
    5) Finish draft of research portion of tenure statement

    1. Welcome back, heu mihi. It sounds as if you are looking for a "work hard / relax hard" kind of balance. It "is* difficult when the summer is chopped up. Kind of like having a chopped-up day. Some of the same strategies can apply for both, it seems.

      I struggle from the same fear of not properly enjoying my vacations/weekends/free afternoons. I also see the same struggle in my son, which makes me sad. I try to help, but . . .

      I hope you'll share some good strategies as you discover them. Being the present moment is certainly a good one (if difficult).

    2. I'm with you (and GEW) on having trouble dealing with chopped-up schedules (days or summers), and making transitions between work and relaxation so that I truly enjoy the relaxation. Although I, too, very much crave down-time at home, I wonder whether having much of the relaxation "away" will help you focus on relaxation. Also, I hear that 5-year-olds are pretty good at refocusing attention (on them). Also that many grandparents are good at taking 5-year-olds away for a while so that their parents can focus on each other (or work, if need be, but that doesn't go very well with the relaxation goal, though it's hard for my mind not to go there, thanks to many years of watching my father work at the beach, and doing a bit of the same myself). So maybe there are some possibilities there?

  10. Sorry to be so late! I'm Susan, a professor of History at an aspiring R-1 that is still a new institution on the west coast of the US. I am a widow, and have three cats (this may be too much), and an elderly mother who lives in assisted living in my small-ish city. I am a good citizen who takes on lots of tasks to support my various communities. So there is admin + admin.

    Discussion topic: I'm terrible at goal setting -- maybe because this was not part of my training as a scholar: back in the day, we just did things. No one ever suggested setting schedules for work; it was just, write this paper. So given my current life, I need to do this, and I'm struggling with it.

    Goals for this session: I'm saying they are modest, but we'll see.
    1. Desk clearing/deck clearing: I ran away for a bit over a week in the UK right after the end of our term (a talk and a paper), came back and almost immediately had to drive my mother 250 miles for an event at my niece/nephew's school. (Why this is a late check in). My desk/study is a TOTAL disaster. I need to clear off the stuff from this past year's teaching to make space for next year, and to be able to work.
    2. Course preparation: I'm teaching a new graduate seminar, and an altered version of a course I've taught before. I want to get ahead on them so it's not all last minute.

    3. Finish Old Conference paper and submit it for publication. (the proceedings were supposed to become a volume, but didn't, and I've been encouraged to submit this to a journal.) Probably needs a week or so of work, but nothing too extreme.

    4. Make revisions to "Way Outside", a paper that took over the last session, when I get comments from the editors. (This paper is in another discipline (English) and another century (20th) from that I usually work in, which is why it has it's name.) My hunch is that it's close to done, but like Old Conference, it needs a week or so to polish it, deal with formatting questions, etc.

    5. New Project 1: I have a plan for a short book that is largely synthetic. I want to start writing/outlining

    6. New Project 2: I am thinking through my next BIG project (I'm assuming 8-10 years), and I'd like to spend some time reading/thinking about how I might approach a big broad subject.

    7. Read. I have been trying to get back into reading novels/books.

    8. Walk regularly. When I'm not teaching, I need to pay real attention to keep myself moving.

    9. Relax. I just published a book, and I am trying not to make myself crazy with deadlines.

    Goals for this week:
    Well, there really isn't much time this week, but I'll begin the deck clearing (maybe clear out some emails while I'm away from home). Otherwise, it's just relaxing.

    1. Hello fellow late person! May deck cleaning be an exercise in spatial and mental clarity.

    2. Well, you're far from the last, and it sounds like you've been doing good things in the interim. I like the idea of reasonable goals on manageable projects as a follow-on to having just published a book, and preparation for planning next steps. That sounds eminently sane, as long as you don't let the good-citizen activities take over (which is a real threat, I find, and I'm not sure I'm even a good citizen, just a conscientious one who thinks I *should* be doing more).

  11. Hi, I'm Karen. I'm a lecturer in a regional campus of a regional university in the southern hemisphere. I'm officially part-time, which translates to 4 days a week and a rather depressing amount of evenings, with two young children (6 and 3), partner and ever-expanding menagerie of small animals (fish, budgies, guinea pigs and chicken). My workplace is going through significant structural change (I don't think that narrows down my location at all) and I have been in an admin/leadership role for about a year now - enough to know to ask what the crisis of the week is rather than being surprised that there is a crisis.

    Session goals; I've just finished my last teaching week of semester, but will be marking for the next two weeks at least. The other big project on the boil is a significant lead role in curriculum redesign, which has a major end of year deadline but needs to hit milestones before then. Plus recapturing all the things (sleep, interactions with other humans, exercise) that got thrown out in the craziness of first semester. I'm going to try and pick session goals that are TLQ and not TLR, but try to make them realistic:
    1. Put in promotion application
    2. Have a documented map of full new degree structure informed by one feedback cycle
    3. Make progress on KL project (application); Grass (conference paper, data gathering); and Farm (creative work)
    4. Create more functional spaces at home with a focus on lounge room, bedroom, and built structures in the garden.
    5. Nurture self with improved sleep, regular exercise.

    Week goals: Well, the week is almost over, but let's say:
    1. Mark like a machine over the weekend.
    2. Put in abstract for end of year discipline conference.

    Topic: So, so bad at big picture goal setting. I tend to identify far off wish things and then lurch from deadline to deadline. When it has worked best is if I consciously set time aside to plan, and do that in a place away from my usual environment and routine so that I can remain focused on the big picture.

    Looking forward to sharing a great summer/winter with you all again. Thanks to the hosts and group members.


    1. I so hear you on the far off wish vs deadline problem. I *know* that breaking things into one-day bites (one paragraph, etc) adds up to lots of writing (or whatever) in the long term, but it just doesn't *feel* real to me, so even when I meet daily goals I still feel discouraged about long-term outcomes.

      But you're ready to put in an application for promotion, so that's very good!

    2. I, too, very much identify with lurching from deadline to deadline, and with the difficulty of planning when one is in the middle of things (physically, temporally, or both). Best wishes for finding space to plan/think.

    3. Fellow lurcher. Thanks for identifying why I'm so terrible at this. I see the end point, but don't do well at the intermediate steps. (I also don't write from outlines, same reason...)

  12. Hi, I'm Cassandra, a mid-career non-tenure-track (but full time) English professor at an American state university on the R1/R2 cusp. My job is entirely defined in terms of teaching (a 4/4 usually all-comp load, plus 2 more sections of comp in the summer), but I do occasionally do a bit of research and writing -- less often since the 2 sections in the summer became an economic necessity -- and I do some servicey/for the good of the department/profession/colleagues by choice (though I'm increasingly ambivalent about those, especially since I seem to be in an either/or situation in regards to those vs. my own research and writing).

    For the past few sessions, I've been concentrating mostly on what I call "infrastructure" projects -- paying more attention to personal finances, other household matters, and health/self-care -- precisely because those are the things that seem to most often fall between the cracks (the teaching gets done because it has to, and I generally make some sort of progress on either writing/research or service-type stuff because I propose conference presentations, apply for grants, etc., get accepted, and then have to follow up). For the summer, though there are plenty of household/financial, writing/research, and serviceish projects that I hope to advance at least a bit, I'm going to narrow that still further, and consistently track just one thing: building more exercise/movement back into my life. So, goal for the summer:

    --Make consistent progress toward making at least one kind of movement (walking, swimming, weight-lifting, gardening) part of most days.

    That's it. I'd considered a second goal of making and eating more food from scratch, but I'm realizing that even that might at times conflict with more than complement the movement goal. So I'm sticking with the one goal.

    As mentioned above, there are a lot of other things that I'd like to fit in this summer, and it's going to be a busier one than I'd like, since I'm scheduled for the longer summer term (2 months) this summer, and since I've got a major church responsibility (a search committee for a new pastor). I may occasionally list other TLQ goals for a week, but I'm going to try tracking just the one goal consistently, throughout the summer, and see how that works.

    1. And goals for this week (which is mostly over):

      --tie up loose ends from the semester as much as possible
      --work in the garden at least once

      As far as planning goes, I haven't yet figured out how to balance realistic planning with a bit of ambition. I'm increasingly aware that time really does seem to move more quickly as one gets older, and increasingly inclined not to fall into the cycle of making overambitious goals, failing to meet them, and feeling discouraged. At the same time, I worry that being too "realistic" = being discouraged/stuck in other ways. I guess I'm hoping that increased physical movement, which I really do enjoy once I get back into the habit (and as long as it's the kinds I enjoy, mostly solitary, noncompetitive activities in teh outdoors) will lead to increased energy and focus, and thus increased ability to tackle other sectors of my life.

  13. I think it's very interested that you've focused on on specific TLQ goal. That's right in line with the topic I was thinking about for the next week. I'll be interested to hear more about how that goes, along with the benefits (if you discover them) of really detailed, focused tracking.

  14. I’m Elizabeth, a tenured Associate Librarian at a public STEM-heavy R1 in the upper Hudson Valley in New York. I have a Master’s in medieval studies, and am ABD in the same, but decided in the last year that the rigamarole of getting the Ph.D. (retaking quals, resubmitting a dissertation proposal to a new committee, for example) wasn’t worth it. The degree would change nothing in my work life. The dissertation included a critical edition, which I plan to query as a book. My main focus is to protect my identity as a medievalist and scholar in a university where I am the only medievalist on the faculty.

    I am chair of a department, so administrative duties loom large at times. Also, like so many other places, we have been hit with organizational crises. At my shop, we are on the bubble of losing our R1 status, which has the university administration in palpitations. We also are facing budget difficulties, although thankfully not as dire as some of the private SLACs in our area.

    I live with a husband whose tenure vote at the college level was May 12th (and overwhelming positive), so he is less irritable than he was all spring semester. One son is a junior in college and taking summer courses; the sophomore has not decided about summer courses, and the incredibly spoiled Standard Poodle has had, but ignores, her obedience training.

    Topic: I love to set goals and plan them out to the inch, which is where my downfall awaits. If I get off track, I often am tempted to throw in the towel. In recent years, I have been getting better at adjusting and plowing on, but it is still a weak point for me.

    Session goals:
    Session mantra: Move, contemplate, create
    Plan and draft sabbatical request.
    Walk at least half an hour every day.

    I am so thankful this group has started back, and look forward to bring with all of you virtually this summer.

    1. Good to see you! Sorry to hear about the current institutional crises, but budget difficulties seem to be endemic to public institutions. I assume the Standard Poodle helps with the walking, and that the tenure vote for your husband makes things a bit more relaxed at home!

    2. Thanks, Susan. Yes, every public institution I've worked at has had budget issues. We don't support our universities as we should, but that's a blog post, at the least.

      You're right, walking Brigid helps immensely; having one hurdle behind him helps immensely with my husband's stress (and mine!)

  15. Revisiting to post my sessions goals here:

    1) Do all things necessary to get kids set up in their own rooms (rooms that will be good sanctuaries for them for the rest of their time at home). This will involve MUCH moving and purging (and building of a backyard "office/library/studio/witch hut").
    2) Eat the rainbow and help my family do the same.
    3) Move more and build family practices for kids to do the same.
    4) Read daily (and somewhat widely) within sci-fi and also academia (esp. c18 Brit lit and any scholars with good writing styles). Finish reading Dune.
    5) Write at least five days per week, whether free-writing, formal academic writing, notes about texts I plan to teach, poetry, fiction, or journaling--all with the goal of exploring my interests/subjects areas while also improving my writing style (which was criticized [rather mildly, but still] by one my article reviewers). I think parentheses were probably part of my problem.
    6) Since we aren't traveling as much, take advantage of local attractions and activities.
    7) Spend more time on family to improve relationships, future memories, and bonds. (The relationships are good, but they definitely played second-fiddle to the PhD for the past year.)