the grid

the grid

Sunday 6 January 2019

New Session 2019: Week 1

Welcome and welcome back! I have hope for a lighter, brighter year. This iteration of TLQ will run through the last weekend in March, so there is plenty of time to make good progress on your goals. Generally check-in posts will go up on Fridays/Saturdays for comments and updates. The text below owes a debt to those who have been good enough to host here previously...

The format will be the same as ever. Here’s a quick 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. Feel free to suggest topics to throw open to the group. We'll recap the session goals for updating and refining about halfway through. Feel free to comment on everyone's goals as much or as little as you like.

So for this week:

1. Tell us a bit about yourself. What's your main focus at the moment? And where are you based? You are welcome to be vague and mysterious in the interest of maintaining anonymity while still introducing yourself to the group.

2. Goals for the session. Common themes include research, home stuff, family, self-care, crafts, exercise, writing, and gardening. Be as detailed or brief as is helpful to you. Many of us give specific projects nicknames that help us keep track of things. 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? Specific small tasks and “microdeadlines” are typically 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.

Newbies are welcome to join. And finally, don't worry if you miss a few checkins. Life happens.


  1. Hello All, I think I may try TLQ this coming session as I have a few projects and deadlines coming up. I'm a senior lecturer in chemistry at a UK university and my main focus at the moment is getting back to a reasonable work pattern after 2 years of illness and recovery. Turns out I can't do things the way I used to do and so I need to figure out some new ways. My main focus for the next 12 weeks will be seeing three manuscripts through to appropriate points in their lifecycles, trying to obtain small pots of funding for projects, and trying to survive teaching.
    I need to be fairly detailed in goals

    Session Goals:
    1. Deal with edits to Albatross book chapter when they come and send back by deadline
    2. Deal with revise and resubmit on International paper that have been stalled since September
    3. Draft and submit sustainable paper once I've dug out and analysed the data
    4. Submit small funding application for Workload project and get started on it if accepted
    5. Submit small funding application for other project once I've figured out what it will be.
    6. make a concerted effort to do crafty things each week

    Goals for the week
    1. Ascertain what I need to do for screencast presentation and draft it
    2. Locate/dig out all the stuff on Albatross and International and Workload so they are easy to find when I have time to work on them.
    3. Mark and give feedback on all items of coursework that have been lurking on my desk (7 group projects and presentations; 36 small pieces of work; 36 reflective diaries)
    4. complete teaching admin prep for forthcoming semester (3 module guides, 2 module intro presentations, 5 sets of assessment guidelines - 2 articles, 2 portfolio, 1 poster/presentation), put all teaching events in diary and check rooms are suitable/check for clashes)
    5. Prepare documents for meetings week after (outreach) and week after that (sustainability)
    6. Chase up ethics on Workload project
    7. Finish and Submit ethics on Enhancement project, student project 1 and 2
    8. Draft Workload funding application and send to boss
    9. Draft Social Workload presentation if accepted for conference

    I suspect this is two weeks worth of work so I'll use next week as an 'update and regroup', I'd rather have a selection of things to work on as I ease back into work after 2 weeks off. I haven't included imminent exam marking but hopefully I can do that next week.

    1. Yay, you’re back! Good to have you with us again.

    2. Yes, welcome back! I hope your overall health is good despite lingering fatigue and other aspects of recovery. And good luck with the long list of tasks!

    3. Welcome back! Glad you are here. I take particular note of the specific planning you have detailed for the coming two weeks...that's the thing I most need to do. Having all of your materials together for easy reference is definitely the best way to pick up projects in progress.

    4. Adding to the chorus of "welcome backs." I've been reading over the last few sessions' posts in the past few weeks, and wondering how you were doing.

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  2. Hello, I'm JaneB. I'm a mid-career UK academic in a STEM field at a squeezed-middle university with an ongoing case of the mid-career "what next's", a difficult and changable working environment (the fourth new structure in four years comes into effect, with new line manager and committee structure, and new people appointed to all key academic administrative roles, three days AFTER the new teaching semester starts at the end of this month...), and far too much to do. I also am a cold-and-virus-and-throat-problem magnet and tend to inconsistent following of systems (but have never lost my love of setting up new systems...). My main focus for this session has to be teaching and self-care, because teaching pays the bills but gets into every nook and cranny of my mind and anxieties if I let it. I am far too verbose, and blog here.

    1. Thinking about goals for the session:
      1) Teaching - goals here are likely to be more TRQ than TLQ. I am involved in two new modules as well as teaching on two demanding ones I've done before, and other odds and ends... by the end of Jan I want to have a complete teaching plan (not complete materials, but a plan and reading lists and a syllabus) for both new modules, and to have done all my grading. February and March, project student support will be a priority (honours projects are due in start of April and I have too many advisees), along with keeping up with grading and class preparation.
      2) self-care: establishing better habits around sleep, drinking water, "sitting" (mindfulness/meditation/prayer practices, which I'm still tinkering with), eating well, moving more, journalling and meetings-with-self practices. I'd like to do a sugar-free February (the 28 days of Feb and the fact that we are back into more practical routines by then makes it a great month for habit experiments) and perhaps add a couple of other health daily practices into that. I'll tinker with these goals weekly depending on what I am doing badly at!
      3) Research and writing: I'd like to do a paper's-worth of research and writing in this session! That will PROBABLY be divided out as:
      3a) data collection. Doing the second set of simulation runs and data analysis for ProblemChildPaper2 (that's 11 separate runs if all goes well, roughly one per week), so that the figures are roughly done by the end of this iterations.
      3b) writing drafts: FlatProject1 from one page outline to a zero draft, ScaryPilotPaper (the pilot project that caused a lot of grief due to university chaos around administration this time last year finished, and I will be taking the lead on turning the report into a publication) going from crappy zero draft (partially redigested report) to full first draft (both with collaborators, so not entirely in my control).
      3c) revision and resubmission (and fingers crossed acceptance and proofing) for LikesMaths1 and ProblemChildPaper1
      3d) miscellaneous writing: completion and submission of abstracts for Quadrennial Conference, two newsletters for SocietyThing, blog post for FlatProject, grant outline to satisfy the powers that be (on FunButProbablyUnfundable idea).
      4) making stuff and being creative: I'm working on a research-themed knitting project so I'd like to have finished the current block, done two more and designed two beyond that. I'd also like to have made progress with a crochet project which is going to look great (she says modestly) but is becoming very hard to transport and work on unless I can take over at least a sofa worth of pace - let's say I'd like to be onto the next China Blue section by the end of March. I also write fiction, badly. I'd like to have finished off the rough I did in NaNoWriMo last year, ready to decide about doing a first revision as Camp in April - we'll call this Groves.
      5) domestic chaos reduction (an ongoing issue. I am... NOT a hoarder, but I COULD become one. Marie Kondo would have conniptions. my MOTHER would have conniptions. I've been unwell a lot (I have depression, on top of the viruses), I'm very stressed, I don't always SEE mess, I've chronic back and joint problems, and it has just GOTTEN AWAY FROM ME. So. I'd like to have four sessions with the professional decluttering lady I saw for the first time on November, and to have gotten to the point where I have comfortably had the electrician in to fix the bathroom fan and quote for a couple of other jobs. That involves a fairly managable combination of cleaning and organising in the hall/stairs/landing areas (I can shut the doors to the bedrooms and kitchen!) and bathrooms, and in the living room which we started work on in November.


    2. I anticipate a great many challenges, mostly from the Bugges that live in my head and the many, many urgent-but-not-important things that come screaming at me every day at work - but reporting in here is an excellent tool to shut them all up a bit!

      GOALS FOR THE SESSION (for reporting/record keeping)
      1) Teaching
      1a) by the end of Jan I want to have a complete teaching plan, and to have done all semester 1 grading.
      1b) February and March, support project students appropriately, keep their records up to date, and be up to date with other teaching.
      2) self-care:
      2a) establishing better self-care habits
      2b) sugar-free February
      3) Research and writing: a paper's-worth of research and writing (these items may be substituted with items of equal value...).
      3a) data collection. Complete second set of simulation runs and data analysis for ProblemChildPaper2.
      3b) writing drafts: FlatProject1 from one page outline to a zero draft, ScaryPilotPaper from crappy zero draft to full second draft.
      3c) revision and resubmission (and proofing) for LikesMaths1 and ProblemChildPaper1
      3d) miscellaneous writing: completion and submission of abstracts for Quadrennial Conference, two newsletters for SocietyThing, blog post for FlatProject, grant outline FunButProbablyUnfundable
      4) making stuff and being creative:
      4a) complete three blocks (including current one) and design two more for research-themed knitting.
      4b) large crochet project - starting the next China Blue section
      4b) Groves crappy zero draft completed
      5) domestic chaos reduction
      5a) four sessions with the Chaos Reduction Woman
      5b) reach point where have had the electrician in to fix the bathroom fan and quote for a couple of other jobs.

      1) Teaching
      Mark PrettyPictureAssignment. Arrange to talk to leaders of the two new modules, and create finalised list of what I'm responsible for in each of them (I hate team teaching...)
      2) self-care:
      get over "vacation jet lag", drink 1.5-2 l of water a day and focus on hitting >5 fruit and veg portions a day.
      3) Research and writing
      work with FlatProjectVisitor to get them over the latest "block" in doing the data collection and analysis (they're here all week). Set up first new run for ProblemChild2. Work on ScaryPilotPaper - send zero draft to rest of team by end of week. meet with LikesMaths (a PhD student) to go over plans for LikesMaths1 revisions. Plan, complete and submit abstracts for Quadrennial conference (actually TRQ this week...). Talk to newsletter volunteer about SocietyTHing newsletter
      4) making stuff and being creative: complete current block of research-themed knitting.
      5) domestic chaos reduction
      Book at least two sessions with CRW. Remove layer of christmas detritus from living room.

    3. I'm very curious about your research-themed knitting project!

    4. A research-themed knitting project sounds so fun!

      Marie Kondo would be excited by your clutter, and then she would look at you with puppy eyes to talk about grateful she is that you have invited her to help you. (I have just binged on her show and am surprised and how delightful and non-judgy she is. Off to clean out some drawers now . . . ).

    5. JaneB, I am always a bit awed by the detailed manner of your planning. You can best get things done when you know precisely what you need to do! I hope you are able to steer clear of the cold and throat issue this year!

      I find Marie Kondo just terrifying! I have had some moments lately of wondering if I am a hoarder and have been relieved to see other academics on social media discuss the difficulties of maintaining all of the materials required for various's cluttery. If only I could be like Anne Carson and have a separate desk for each project I'm working on.

    6. Also, I'll be experiencing my first change in university president in 10 years, at an institution that is caught between its conservative ideologies and marketplace demands to be more progressive. I will likely be calling on you for the wisdom you've gained through so much upheaval.

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  3. Introduction: I’m Elizabeth, a tenured associate librarian at an R1 in upstate New York. Faced with an increasingly STEM-intensive university and an increasingly bean-counter mindset among the library administration, I am keeping my advanced degrees and first proto-career as a medievalist alive in my scholarship. I live with a philosopher/librarian husband, and two college student sons, the political philosopher and the historian. Our Standard Poodle, the princess, runs the house.

    I have a full 12 weeks ahead of me. At the end of January, I have a conference in Seattle. The philosopher and I both have relatives there, so we are taking some extra days to visit. Once I’m back, I will have two months to fix a massive project (2.5 million pieces worth) that got completely messed up while I was on sabbatical last summer.

    Session mantra: “Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them.” --Marcus Aurelius

    Session goals:
    Organizing Goals:
    Continue to organize the dissertation files, which I swear reproduce at night.
    Continue to organize the new veal-fattening pen, with the goal to minimize.

    Writing Goals:
    Write 750 words a day, whether morning pages, character profiles, or back story.
    Edit three pages a day of the sabbatical project.

    Health Goals:
    Walk at least forty minutes a day.
    Use the standing desk at least three hours a day.
    Keep current with medical appointments.

    Creativity goals:
    Draw once a week.
    Knit for at least a half-hour daily.

    Next week’s goals:
    Write the sabbatical report.
    Write 1500 words a day.
    Half an hour knitting daily.
    Draw once a week.

    I look forward to being back with this group, seeing veterans again, and meeting any new participants. Float like mist, everyone!

    1. Oh, I would love a daily knitting goal!

      But what on earth is the veal-fattening pen?

    2. Ah, that is my snarky name for the cubicle I had to move to upon return from sabbatical. I'm now part of a cublicle farm in a well-traveled area.

    3. 2.5 million pieces?! That *is* massive. I'm sorry you have to clean up that mess.

      Also, I am now wishing I had included some organizing goals. Maybe I'll just list accomplishments when I complete them--like bonus points.

    4. I didn't know we lived in the same state!!!

    5. GEW, I think listing them as bonus points is a great idea! I'm going to feel great ticking them off.

      Oh hey, waffles! Yeah, I'm just 2.5 hours drive up the Hudson. I'm in the city about every couple of months--sometimes just a day trip, sometimes for longer.

    6. I *love* that Marcus Aurelius quote! I've been thinking that I need a closing to sign off here, and something like "run with the stars" might be the thing.

      Oh those dissertation files that propagate when we're not watching over them. You have a solid set of goals for organizing and order, along with sturdy goals for writing. This looks like a good balance for moving forward over these 3 months.

    7. Thank you, humming. I'm hoping that I can keep my balance these next few months.
      I think you should definitely sign off with "run with the stars." The Philosopher introduced me to Marcus Aurelius about 4 years ago as a way to deal with grief, but I have also found many beautiful thoughts about life. This one is definitely my favorite.

    8. I kind of like “make it so” as a mantra. :)

    9. I can never see the phrase without remembering the "make it sew" joke that was going around when First Gen was a Thing...

  4. Hi, this is oceangirl. I am an Associate Professor at a SLAC that requires equal attention to research and teaching. I just lost my Mom in November after taking family leave to care for her as her health declined. I am still figuring out what my post-parent life will look like as its going to mean much less contact with the remaining members of my family. I was able to negotiate 50% teaching this semester, which leaves the rest for self-care and book writing. My second book for promotion to Full is due to the editors this August and I still have 4 chapters left to write. My concentration skills at the moment are low and I am still early on in the grieving process. So much of this TLQ will be about trying to find and maintain some balance in my personal and professional life so I can get work done but still have the space to grieve my Mom, deal with ongoing family issues, and spend time with and make new friends.

    Goals for the session:
    1. Write 1.5 chapters of the book, finish R and R on edited volume paper, write a conference paper, finalize an Encyclopedia entry. Will manage this with three days of writing 500+ words a day, two days of editing and/or research for 90 min.
    2. Work out 4-5 x a week (walking, gym, or Pilates)
    3. Self care x 2 a week(PT, therapy, massage)
    4. Do something fun x 2 (if want to be social then be social, but if this means I go to a movie by myself that is ok too)
    5. Do stuff around the house- at least one thing per week (look for new decorator, prune garden, get handyman in, furniture repair etc).

    Goals for this week:
    I committed to going to Costa Rica with two friends right around the time that my mother died for the week just before school starts. Now that I am two days from leaving it seems crazy time- wise to go, but I am going to keep my commitment to myself to go- this is part of my much needed self-care. So I am mostly focused on teaching prep for the next two days with a bit of thinking about research (if there is time)
    1. Finalize syllabus and gather all course readings, print syllabus
    2. Look at R and R notes for re-submission due end of month
    3. Look at Encyclopedia entry, write 200 words if time
    4. Go to Costa Rica with two old friends for much needed rest and relaxation on Wednesday

    1. Your session goals seem very wise under the circumstances. And Costa Rica sounds wonderful. I hope that you have a healing and restful time.

    2. I'm sorry about your mother. Going away sounds as if it will be restorative. And - as you already know - grief is weird and comes round and hits you in all sorts of weird ways.

    3. It's wonderful that you'll have a 50% teaching load so that you can focus on yourself and your book. And I hope you have a GREAT time in Costa Rica.

    4. I'm so sorry about your mom. My dad died suddenly when I was in my PhD program, and it took me a while to feel normal. I hope the trip to CR is a good and relaxing one for you.

    5. About a month after my mother died, I went on a cruise to Mexico with a good friend. It was restorative. I hope you can make some good memories in Costa Rica. Good luck with all the things you have to do! They'll get done somehow and you will be the better for a vacation and time with friends.

    6. I hope you have a relaxing, healing time in Costa Rica. And I will echo everyone else to be kind to yourself -- grief knows no timetable and is no respecter of situations or persons.

    7. Condolences on the loss of your mother, oceangirl. The post-parent life is definitely different, and all the more so when family relationships are complicated. Things went in the other direction for me -- it's easier in some ways to build/maintain relationships with my brother and his family now that my estranged father is gone and my troubled stepmother a far more peripheral part of the picture -- but, either way, getting one's bearings after a parent dies is definitely an extended process. I'm glad you have time and space to begin navigating it; spending time with friends in a warm spot sounds like a good start.

    8. While in Costa Rica, be on the lookout for sloths! I don't know that others share my great affection for them, but I think a cute, slow moving creature reminds us to ward off the busyness and rushing we get accustomed to.

      Recognizing that curling up to watch an old movie with a bowl of popcorn also counts as fun as much as going out somewhere is so important. Grieving is a process, and your thoughtfulness about your own needs is such a good thing.

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  6. I'm heu mihi, a tenured professor of medieval literature at an R1 public university in the Northeastern US. I live with my husband (whom I called The Minister way back in the olden days when we started dating, because he had been ordained before becoming a professor, but who now is an actual minister of an actual church), our delightfully enthusiastic six-year-old Bonaventure, and an ancient, noisy cat whose real name is Solange.

    This semester, I'm going to try keeping track of my work in teaching, service, and research, to see what proportions of my day are going to each.

    I've got a few deadlines coming up: book revisions due at the end of April (assuming that all goes well at this month's editorial board meeting and I get a contract) and an article ("Amy") due June 1. So those will take priority.

    I'm going to continue with my recently-developed daily practices of language study, writing, exercise, and (ha ha ha) meditation. "Daily," of course, means 5x/week.

    I'm also cutting alcohol out for a minimum of two days a week. I feel weird putting this goal up here, because it feels overly confessional or something, but basically I'm just trying to break the reflexive habit of having wine with dinner.

    So, session goals:

    1. Daily things x5: Language, exercise, write, sit.
    2. Finish revisions to book - ch. 5, ch. 4, and intro.
    3. Work on Amy: if not a full draft, then a full pre-draft + clear sense of where it's going.
    4. Keep up weekly work-logging unless I decide after a few weeks that I hate it and want to stop.
    5. Health: no alcohol 2x week, more fruit and nuts, fewer chips and sweets.
    6. Fiction: Finish NaNo from 2018--about 20,000 more words.

    This week--gearing up:
    1. Homework for teaching workshop (Thursday).
    2. Finish syllabi and assignments.
    3. Weekly accounting.
    4. Daily stuff: writing, sitting, exercise. (I'm giving myself one more week off language.)
    5. Ch. 5: Read 2 more chapters of Relevant Book; get/order library books; print current draft.
    6. Write 4000 words of NaNo18.

    1. I get your feeling about the alcohol: I don't want it to be reflexive, but chosen.

    2. Tracking how you use your time sounds like a great idea. I should probably do the same.

      Your fiction goal for this week is 4,000 words. My session goal is 5,000 words. I'm trying not to feel inferior.

    3. Like Susan, I totally get the feeling about alcohol. I'm slowly losing weight, and I'd rather choose when to enjoy the calories of alcohol.

    4. Fingers crossed on the book contract. I'm hopeful for you!

      I've been keeping track of my time as a goal-setting method on and off for about a year now. As my semester is about to begin, I'm thinking that I want to move back to more of a bullet journal form because I'm at the point where I don't even want to open the spreadsheet in the morning because, in a Marie Kondo way, it holds no joy for me. It is an excellent way, though, to see how time is apportioned and what gets done in a day.

  7. I'm Susan, a full professor at a research university on the west coast. I'm a widow who lives with two cats (Tiffany and Ginger George); they agree on little other than my general abuse and starvation of them. My elderly mother lives in my small city, and I am the first line of response in crisis. I published a book not quite 2 years ago, and am slowly moving into new projects, but there are a few hanging that I have to finish. I do a lot of service, but am trying to disconnect on that. I missed this group in the fall, so am glad to be back!

    Goals for this session:
    Teaching: I'm teaching a new course this term, a freshman seminar, but it's related to what I think will be my next book. I need to do the syllabus for that, and plan the teaching, but I think it will be more grading stress than preparation stress. By the middle of the semester I want to begin to use the teaching to support writing.

    I have two essays to work on right now - one I'll call "Collaboration" is a third joint essay with a friend for one of the companion volumes. It's due at the end of June, and we're trying to get a draft pretty far along this month. The second, Violence, was submitted for a volume that changed its focus after the first round, so I have to do some edits and shift the focus back to what it was before.
    The third project is a short book I call "Author", which will connect to my teaching.
    The final project I'll call "Editing", where I am co-editor of a big book (30 chapters). I've just sent the table of contents to the editor of the series, and once I get a contract, will be doing a bunch of administrative work in contacting authors for the chapters we've outlined.

    1. I used to do pottery before I moved here, and I have signed up for a class that starts tonight. I see this as reclaiming a part of myself.
    2. Exercise: I go to a class 3 days a week, but want to add walking at least twice a week.
    3. Sleep: I've been working on this for years, but I would like to get closer to 7 hours of sleep a night than I do now. It makes a huge difference.
    4. Keep the house and desk under control. I'm not naturally tidy, but I've realized I get paralyzed when stuff accumulates. So I need to give myself an hour a week to keep the house under control.

    There are a bunch of other self-care tasks, but these are the big session goals.

    Goals for this week:
    1. Get rough draft of syllabus done
    2. Write 1000 words on Collaboration
    3. Finish one book review
    4. Walk
    5. Go to pottery class
    6. Try to go to bed so I get enough sleep.

    1. Welcome back, Susan! Nice to "see" you again. It sounds like you have some robust writing goals. Thanks for coming back to share them with us.

      And thanks for the reminder about sleep. After being able to sleep more over winter break, I feel like new person. I really must go to bed earlier during the week.

    2. Yes yes on the writing goals. Having different kinds of projects, I think, will be beneficial because you bring a different kind of expertise to each one. There's a real pleasure in writing something related to teaching--it improves the quality of what you do in the classroom and creates some energy for the work that carries back to the research/writing side too.

  8. Hi, I'm GoodEnoughWoman, aka GEW (although I'm thinking of changing that moniker since these days I feel good enough. Side effect of turning 50, I think).

    I am a recent PhD graduate (defended two years ago), and I just published my first article this fall; however, I've been teaching at a two-year community college for 21 years, so I'm a green researcher but not a green teacher. I teach English, including composition, critical thinking, Brit Lit, and science fiction (although my new SF class is underenrolled, so it might not fly this term, which won’t upset me too badly since if it’s cancelled I will have only three preps and four classes instead of four preps and five classes).

    I live along the coast of California with my husband and two teenage (!) children. We are also entering the time of life that involves eldercare, which is new to us.

    This session, I would like to focus mostly on my own health. For the past six months, I have allowed myself to be quite sedentary because I was just plain tired. But I’m 50 now, my weight is really getting higher, and I have joint pain and minor autoimmune issues, and therefore my own health will be a priority.

    Session Goals:

    1) Draft and complete conference paper to be delivered first week of April.
    2) Write 5,000 words of of novel.
    3) Do regular exercise (aim for 7500-10,000 steps daily, and substitute with yoga and 7-minute workouts).
    4) Stick to healthy-eating commitments.
    5) Meet various and emerging family needs/goals as they arrive with grace and intention.

    This week:
    My husband and I have just started a healthy (but someone restrictive) 21-day food plan. That will be some of my health focus for the next few weeks.

    1) Stick to food plan. Prepare satisfying meals. Track effects on skin, joints, etc.
    2) 7500 steps daily, or sub with 7-minute workout and 20-minute yoga
    3) Write 500 words of novel.
    4) Create very rough draft of conference paper by excavating relevant text from dissertation. Read two chapters of relevant monograph.
    5) Finish syllabi.
    6) Hem son’s curtains.

    Also, thanks for hosting, humming42! Let me know if you need help any of the weeks. I can sub for you if need be!

    1. Oh gosh, re-reading Susan's goals reminded me about sleep. Another session goal is go to bed earlier and aim for at least seven hours most nights.

    2. I would like to take your science fiction class, please!!!

    3. Looks like the SF class will be cancelled for spring, but we'll offering it in fall. If it's online, we'll sign you up!! I'm sure you'd have plenty of time for it. ;)

    4. sorry about the elder care issues. They are hard in so many ways... sympathy from the Central valley.

    5. Your session goals are so balanced...steady change and growth in your key life areas. I especially appreciate the reminder to approach family needs with grace and intention. I am geographically closer to my aging parents than my sister, and she has young children where mine is an adult (but has needs as well). That grace and intention is also a way to remember that your self-care and your interests need to be prioritized too. Put on your oxygen mask before helping others who might require assistance. :)

  9. Hi everyone! I am a postdoc in NYC and I study LGBT health. I live with a super annoying roommate (side effect of living in NYC on a postdoc salary), have independent NIH funding, and am currently applying for an NIH K. I have two cats - T is older (14) and failing :( and F is a semi-feral cat who likely was partially raised by raccoons. She is the weirdest cat I've ever met. One of my biggest fantasies related to getting a K is having enough money to live by myself and to get a puppy! I moved to NYC 1 year and 3 months ago when my mentor took a job here (although she moved her long after I did which was super stressful). My BFF is moving here next week! Sadly she has decided to not live on Manhattan and I am worried about how often I will be able to convince her to do fun things with me.

    1. These are all such exciting things (except for the annoying roommate). What is the K timeline?

      Oh to have an apartment of one's own!

      I'm sure you will give a proper welcome to your BFF and she will want to come visit you a lot. :)

    2. I do hope you get time to spend with your BFF, especially since you carry such a heavy research load. But just knowing that someone dear to you is close by can ease some of the stresses of everyday life.

  10. I’m humming42, an associate professor teaching in the humanities at a mid-sized third-tier state school in the US Southwest. I’m glad to be here and very happy to host.

    Session goals:
    1 submit February essay
    2 complete and submit four book reviews
    3 plan for March conference
    4 create plan and work on December essay
    5 create plan and work on Tiny Project

    This week:
    1 finish and submit two reviews
    2 work on February essay instead of panicking
    3 submit article review
    4 catch up on correspondence

    Looking forward!

  11. Working instead of panicking. You might be onto something!!!

    Thanks for hosting, humming42!

  12. About me: my focus at the moment is a combination of mopping up projects that are done-but-not-over (for example, processing editors’ comments on the big collaborative translation) and getting back to projects that have long been sidelined (book!) because there’s only so much I can think about at one time. Sometime this spring my promotion to Full should be confirmed, so for the future I’m thinking about questions like “How long do I want to go on teaching?” and “What do I want retirement to look like?” That is, I’m enjoying teaching, but when I think about goals, it’s mostly things I want to write; and since my husband is older than I am, if we’re going to travel or live abroad, we should do those things while we’re both able to enjoy them. We hope to sell our house and move to something lower-maintenance, so we’ll try again on that (local market slumped just when we finally got it adequately de-cluttered). Like many of you, I’m trying to focus on health and sleep, but I think I want to leave that as a sort of underpinning to my more tangible goals.

    Session goals: Live with uncertainty and work the process w/r/t selling the house.
    Complete one conference paper (drawn from translation introduction).
    Draft second conference paper (related to book project).
    Manage teaching/grading efficiently.
    Get tax stuff taken care of in a timely way.
    Make arrangements for June and August trips.

    This week’s goals:
    Complete syllabuses for two classes (done this morning).
    Complete at least two of the four documents I need for annual review.
    Get back to living in my time zone.
    Plan a “personal syllabus” for the semester, showing both grading and writing.

    1. I appreciate the wisdom of knowing you can only think about so many things at one time. I hope those projects come into the light with clarity.

      Could you say more about the "personal syllabus"? I'm as always interested in trying out novel ways to get things done.

    2. I worked out when papers are due in both my classes, and what other deadlines I have (like conference dates), then created a table with a column for week/date, grading task, and writing task. I could add language work as well, but I think for the moment I'll keep it to those things. I'll need to do some other prep, like devising writing assignments, and some re-reading, but after hammering myself last fall with new readings/prep, I did try to keep this spring simpler in that respect.

      I think it will help to see the details of what I need to be doing. Just having due-dates on a calendar isn't enough for me, it appears. If I can see that I have one set of short papers to grade, and one set of in-class writing to check off, and two weeks to go before a conference, then I hope I will be able to put in 6 hours grading, 8 (say) on the conference paper, and give 2 to languages. If it's a week with a lot of grading, it will be clear that I should focus on that and just "keep in touch" with research. In the week of 1/14, I need to check one set of in-class writing and incorporate my collaborators' comments into the revised introduction, then send it to the editors.

      I'll let you know how it goes! I sympathize about always looking for new techniques. I have a terrible time making time concrete, as I think I've blogged about somewhere. Here we go: 'My problems with time management stem in large part from finding time too abstract and unreal a concept. I have a good grasp of “now.” “Now” is when I would rather eat chocolate or work in the garden or read blogs than grade papers. Everything else is “later,” and who knows whether “later” will even happen? The world could come to an end! I could get run over crossing the street! The students might all decide not to come to class! It takes a huge effort of faith and will to believe that “later” will indeed come about, and to insist to myself that in the later “now” I will regret not grading (or whatever) in this earlier “now.”'

    3. Yes on "now" and "then"! Oddly, this reminds me of "Future Me" and "Past Me"--what can I do Now to make Then easier for Future Me? This is a question I need to ask myself every night that I don't quite finish the dishes. What a gift to my morning self to walk into a clean kitchen to make coffee!

  13. Those seem like great questions to think about.

    Also, thank you so much for being such a spectacular and gracious co-host last session.

  14. I'd like to rejoin, after a hiatus of about a year (last spring was very TRQ-heavy -- a more interesting than usual but also challenging to nearly overwhelming teaching load -- and I wasn't keeping up with TLQ very well even before that, so I decided to take a break rather than repeatedly report no progress, or fail to report at all). I'm hoping to keep my goals modest, and priorities clear. We'll see.

    Intro: I'm a mid-career, middle-aged, full-time but non-tenure-track writing teacher at a large public university in the U.S. The good news is that I've recently been promoted to the highest rank for NTT faculty (and received a bit of a raise to go with, which won't actually show up in my paycheck 'til next September), and am working on a curricular project which I genuinely believe will help both students and our entirely-contingent instructor community. The less-good news is that my colleagues and I are still trying to make the case that a 4/4 (plus two in the summer for most of us) writing-intensive load is not good in the long term for anybody involved (students, instructors, the program, the department, the university...), and that we'd all be better off if writing faculty could teach 3/3 or 4/3 and officially have time for service, a bit of research/professional development, and the like (we'd also, of course, like to earn enough to make teaching in the summer a choice rather than a necessity, but that seems like a me remote possibility at the moment).

    We might be making some progress (the provost is studying some of these issues), but trying to advocate for better working conditions while coping with present working conditions is exhausting, and making the case for what's wrong with the current situation (with which I've learned to cope over time, in ways both healthy/productive and less so) can be dispiriting. We need to find productive ways to keep up the pressure on the provost et al., but I also want to make sure the curricular project doesn't slip between the cracks (as it did to some extent last fall).

    I'd also like to reconnect with my writing and research (which aren't officially part of my job, but I'm pretty sure I'm happier when I'm doing them), but I'm not sure those are a priority right now (too many priorities=paralysis). I might separate out the two, using reflective writing to mull over life goals and get back into a writing routine, and doing some reading to reconnect with my research areas.

    The promotion means I have a fairly good idea of what my salary will be in the 10-15 years I have until retirement (and it's looking like my late father's estate is finally settled -- it's been almost 3 years -- so I have some idea of the amount of the modest but definitely helpful trust income I'll receive from that). So one thing on which I'm working is some financial and related household planning. I've also got some non-work activities that I value, and that take up significant time, including active participation in a church congregation (choir, a committee chair, returning to the governing board in a few months) and a faith-based activism group (still trying to figure out to be effective but not overwhelmed in the present political situation in the U.S., and given the personalities in the group). I also rent a community garden plot, and need to keep up with that well enough to pass periodic inspections (which always seem to come at the worst times of the academic year).

    Finally, as in the past, I'd like to use this check-in to encourage self-care, with a particular emphasis this time on getting moving again. Last fall, I found a stretching routine that helped a good deal with some chronic aches and pains; I want to continue that (which dropped off a bit during the end-of-semester crunch, and I haven't really re-engaged over break), and add walking and lifting weights back in. A better daily/sleep routine and more home cooking are also on the list of desirables.

    1. Another person I'm delighted to see back again! Congratulations on the promotion and raise!

    2. So I need to narrow down the list of things on which I wish I had time to fully focus above (and the others still floating around in my head but not down in pixels) to a manageable list of TLQ goals/priorities for the next 2.5 months.

      The timing of this session is good for me, since April tends to be crazily busy at work (end of the semester, including student draft conferences, annual reports, and the like), and this year will include a (very late) Easter as well. So this session’s priorities should focus some routines I would like to establish and things I would like to get done before then.


      Session goals:
      Highest priority (do or at least review/plan each week):
      --Increase movement (stretch, walking, and weight-lifting) & other self-care that supports it (routines, sleep, food)
      --Make continued progress on curricular project]
      --Take regular half- or full-day breaks (and figure out what makes them genuinely refreshing: long-form reading is usually a good bet; what else?)

      Medium priority (try to fit in 2 or 3 in all but the busiest weeks):
      --Make continued progress on financial planning (in particular, get taxes as far as they need to be well before 4/15)
      --Work on reflective writing
      --Work on professional reading
      --Make enough progress on garden projects to be ready for spring inspection (some but not all of the projects are strenuous enough to count for movement goals as well)

      Goals for this week (which is almost over):
      --Come up with some goals for next week that support progress on session goals

    3. Thank you, DEH! It's good to be back, if, as tends to be the case, a bit tardy.

    4. Hi, CC! So good to have you back! Congratulations on your promotion, and good luck with the workload issues. I know it's so hard to fight the good fight when one is already exhausted.

      It sounds like a busy but good time for you. Again, great to have you back. I've thought of you often, so it's nice to get the update!

    5. So glad you're here, CC! Advocating for a better teaching load that benefits both instructors and students is urgent and exhausting work. My husband is NTT faculty, with no guarantee that he'll get a full course load every semester, or that there will be a job one semester to the next. I realize that most TT and tenured faculty give no thought to the stresses that come with that, so I can imagine that having a voice on your campus is hard-won.

      I look forward to hearing more about your moves to see how you want to integrate writing into your everyday and making space for that or for other things that you value.

    6. So great to see CC back! :-)

  15. Thanks, humming42 and JaneB. I'm at the very fortunate end of the contingent spectrum these days (health and retirement benefits, multi-year contract, strong likelihood I'll be able to hold my present position through retirement at 65 or 70 or even later if I choose and my health allows), but I spent some years as the more precarious sort of contingent faculty member (part- and full-time), and living with that kind of uncertainty on top of a heavy course load is tremendously hard. I don't think I could have held out much longer than I did.

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