Defining Goals (Summer Writing Group: Week 2)

In last week’s comments, a few people (including me) wondered about how others turn a task like “work on revision” into smaller, quantifiable tasks. And once you have smaller, quantifiable tasks, how do you keep from being overwhelmed by what seems to be a never ending to-do list? humming42 writes,

“What I find is that there are 37 things on my to do list when I get up in the morning. And at the end of the day, there’s the dreadful ritual of changing 20 “todays” to “tomorrows,” leaving me feeling like I got little done, and that the next day will just be overwhelming. I removed all the dates [deadlines in a task list program], and now feel unmoored in a way that leaves me anxious about how to prioritize and how to avoid letting things go.”

So what advice do you have? What works for you?

I encourage you to comment on others’ comments as well, if you get a chance.

A reminder of the check-in format:

  1. Goal: The past week’s goals
  2. Accomplished: What you accomplished during the week
  3. Analysis: An analysis of what worked/what didn’t
  4. Next Goal: The next week’s goals
  5. Next Check In (optional): Your next check in date, if you’re planning to miss any number of weeks

Roll call:

Amstr [complete dissertation]: Draft of Ch. 3 to writing partner (in whatever state it’s in; hopefully complete, if poor); Intro w/ changes to secondary advisor; email third committee member (to let her know I’ll be finishing soon)
Aria
[something ??]:  read the rest of the secondary source that I’m somewhat using to structure my paper, and some other sources that have come in through Interlibrary Loan
Becky
[journal article]: ??
Contingent Cassandra
[full draft of J by 7/21; progress on P project]: accomplish 2 ancillary tasks; get reacquainted with J-paper
Daisy
[finish thesis]:  Try for readable again.
DEH
[finish and submit MMP and article]: write syllabus for summer class; write 1000 words each on the MMP and its companion-piece (they are sufficiently closely related that I have decided to try to work on them at the same time). 2000 words total this week, or some reasonable equivalent in editing if I realize that’s where I am with the MMP, which I haven’t looked at in awhile.
Elizabeth Anne Mitchell
[progress on diss or article]: (check-in forthcoming)
emmawriting
[2 articles submitted; work on 1 of 2 articles]: EOCP results done, outline based on results, and article review with notes / draft writing.
Erika
[submit article; misc small deadlines]: ??
GEW
[draft of new chapter; edit article]: get the chapter cleaned up by Wednesday, and I’d like to write an abstract of Chapter 3, too, and send both off to the supervisor by Wednesday afternoon.
humming42
[complete book MS]:  I will start writing and make sure the organization is working. Writing every day will be my goal.
JaneB
[chip away at writing backlog]: write up 500 words from the notes from the meeting and to complete the prep work for the NextBigPaper (one easy make-some-figures task, one complicated work out how to do it and do it task).
jenk
[submit article; materials/methods + research sections of thesis]: Get those 2 sections of materials and methods done this week. Revise an outline for a paper (or papers) after a conference call with a collaborator.
Kirstin
[rough draft of journal article]: WYJA Week 2
kiwimedievalist
[article]: ?
luolin88
[finish and submit journal article; start next article]: One hour in the morning TWTHF
Matilda
[2 of 4: paper, 3 presentations]: WYJA  Week 5, 6, and 7
NWGirl
[revise 2 papers for publication]: Reviewing the Related Literature— evaluating current citations, identifying and reading the related literature, evaluating the related literature, and writing or revising related literature review
profgrrrrl
[2 book projects; various MS]: ??
psycgirl
[R&R MS; submit MS#2; outline review article]: Finish reading the second book. Type up the list of revisions to do and begin getting the articles together from the updated literature review.
rented life
[2 solid book chapters]:  Commit backstory idea to paper (or computer) so I don’t forget it. Read 2 chapters of book 1 (already started) for research.
rocket
[article & old project submitted; prelim new project]: To review dissertation material that I’m using as the foundation for the article and make a point form outline; work on organization website; deal with service commitment – plan for analysis program.
Ruthie
[chapter; book proposal; 2 articles]: ?
Sapience
[complete diss; decide scope of new idea]: Need to deal with the writing in preparation for the next round of meetings, start the reading for my new paper idea, and keep working on the revisions for chapters 4&5, which I expect I will be working on simultaneously for the next few weeks.
tracynicolerose
[P&P and LM papers ready for conference mid-summer]: Continue on analysis for LM paper and write at least one comparison memo. Also do week 1 in WYJA
Trapped in Canadia
[2 diss. chapters; 1 turned into edited book ch.]:  Unpack. Finish book review to clear the way for concentrating solely on the dissertation. Read intro of WYJA

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76 thoughts on “Defining Goals (Summer Writing Group: Week 2)

  1. I already wrote a little last week in the comments about the task thing–I usually don’t get overwhelmed by big tasks on my to-do list if I can’t break them down into component parts, and I don’t tend to get discouraged by to-do lists that roll over.

    Goal for last week: Need to deal with the writing in preparation for the next round of meetings, start the reading for my new paper idea, and keep working on the revisions for chapters 4&5, which I expect I will be working on simultaneously for the next few weeks.

    Accomplished: I did get the writing for the meetings done, and I worked on (maybe finished?) revisions for chapter 5. I also went back and rethought a bit of the Introduction to the diss that will help set up the revisions for chapter 4, I think.

    Analysis: I was a little over ambitious in setting up my goals for last week, partly because I wasn’t sure how long those meetings were going to be. They weren’t as long as they could have been, but neither were they short. I did find myself procrastinating on my dissertation by working on revising my CV. That needed to get done at some point, but it shouldn’t have been my priority.

    For next week: Read at least an article a day for new project, and keep working on the revisions of chapter 4. (Optional extra credit goal: revise job letter)

    • I’m glad your meetings weren’t too terrible. And congrats on maybe finishing Ch 5! It sounds like you got quite a lot accomplished despite misjudging how much time you would have.

      • I like the idea of an extra-credit goal… maybe you get an icecream or a new book for meeting it, instead of just extra grades?

      • Ooh, JaneB, I like that! And I’m thinking that I should plan a reward if/when I finish the J article draft mid (well, 2/3) -summer.

        Sapience, I think there’s a lot to be done for accomplishing something that needs to be done, if we’re not in the head space to accomplish what really needs to be done. I had to do some shifting of what I did when this weekend, because I spent two days sleep-deprived because I’d spent the wee hours of the previous night/early morning trying to figure out how to respond to unexpected administrative edicts, but it worked out. I got some piece/teaching work done Sat and Sun, despite my somewhat-woozy state, and some writing (planning) done today, when I was calmer and better-rested.

  2. Summer Goal: revise 2 papers for publication

    Week 1 Goal: For paper 1 – Reviewing the Related Literature— evaluating current citations, identifying and reading the related literature, evaluating the related literature, and writing or revising related literature review

    Accomplished: I made progress, but did not finish. While a lot has been published in this area, it’s still a viable area and I think my paper does make a contribution so I feel I need to continue to revise this paper.

    I also tracked down some additional collections that may be useful for another project related to this paper.

    Analysis: Working first thing in the morning is really key to my success. I’m not some super-woman who works as soon as I’m out of bed. I’m not that much of a morning person. But I tend to be more productive if I set a goal of spending a couple of hours working each morning. Also, I feel less guilty turning my attention to other tasks in the afternoon if I’ve already completed my daily writing.

    Next week’s goal: Finish Reviewing the Related Literature, etc. (same as this past week, but I plan to finish)

    Amstr, the question you pose is an interesting one. Certainly one that I’ve wrestled with and am wrestling with. There was an interesting article this week in CHE about procrastination: “Varieties of Procrastination” by David Perlmutter. (http://chronicle.com/article/Varieties-of-Procrastination/131904/). Perlmutter suggests creating a master plan and setting small goals (like those mentioned above) as a way of fighting procrastination. At Hook and Eye (http://www.hookandeye.ca/2012/05/humanities-writing-without-formula-but.html) Aimee Morrison points out that Perlmutter’s ideas aren’t as easily applied to the humanities, particularly for novice humanities scholars. While facing the totality of the project (finish dissertation this summer, for example) is daunting and can lead to procrastination, creating a detailed outline (at least in the humanities) is not possible. Morrison suggests instead that humanities scholars focus on things like time on task, or words written and pages read, or my favorite “race through it like a puppy just released from his crate” — follow your enthusiasm, generate ideas and sources and writing to keep your forward momentum. For me the puppy idea is a great way to deal with minutiae type tasks. How many things can I check off my e-mail list in the next thirty minutes?

    So how does this apply to this week’s question? Well for me, especially since it’s a research and writing summer, I’ve tried to focus on weekly goals that are somewhat broadly defined, limiting myself to no more than three or four though this week I think I had five. So my focus this week is the article I’m revising with the note that this week I am focusing on the literature review, a book review that’s due, a couple of training sessions that were scheduled for this week, clean up e-mail, and DIY/home improvement project. I identified those on Sunday. Then I copied and pasted those goals at the top of my daily journal page (I use All My Journals software from Bad Wolf software). At the end of each day, I write down what I’ve worked on that day and the progress that I’ve made. For the e-mail goal, I spend only an allotted amount to time reviewing and completing (when I can) some of the minutiae that comes with e-mail, using my e-mail program to track those tasks.

    I’ve been doing this since the beginning of May and so far it seems to be working. I have to focus on what I’ve accomplished rather than what I’ve not addressed so it helps to think in terms of work completed rather than re-scheduling tasks so unless something is REALLY pressing, I assign it either no date or a general date such as “this week” or “next week”.

    Hope this helps.

    • I liked Morrison’s post, although I think there’s a continuum to these things and it’s not always so inchoate, even for humanities scholars, as she suggests. As a person who’s great at producing lots of words and terrible at finding the argument in them, I have found it immensely helpful to cut back on the amount of writing I do in favor of more thinking and planning. It makes me feel anxious not to write but it goes so much more smoothly when I have figured out in advance where I want to go. The structure and argument can still change, but I don’t have to discard so much.

  3. Like NWGirl, I tend toward a weekly task list that I can approach each day. I also returned this week to a trick I learned from my husband. When he starts feeling like he’s getting nothing done at work, he writes down every little tiny thing he does (sometimes on a time chart so he can see where he’s spending his time). So for me this week, even though I didn’t get started on my Ch. 3 on Monday, I had quite a long list of little tasks I did that made me feel like I hadn’t totally wasted my work time.

    My other trick this week was dividing my “revise chapter” task by pages. I tried a “revise 10 pages” goal, and then a “revise 3 pages” (those were trickier ones). After a read-through I had a general idea of how much revision I’d need in each section, and then managed to knock out the revision quite quickly.

    For this week: Draft of Ch. 3 to writing partner (in whatever state it’s in; hopefully complete, if poor); Intro w/ changes to secondary advisor; email third committee member (to let her know I’ll be finishing soon)

    Accomplished: All done! The Ch. 3 draft isn’t yet complete, but I got the revisions done for the 30 pages that I do have, and I’m sending them off to my writing partner today. I even have a good idea of what I need to do next.

    Analysis: I was still feeling stuck on my Ch. 3, and finally decided to just do SOMETHING on it, rather than nothing. So I printed it, took it to a coffee shop, and got my pencil moving. It actually felt good to be working on it again.

    I also figured out that I’m about 3 weeks behind with my summer plan already. Luckily, I figured it out after I had a good day of writing, and I had planned in a month to read for a couple of the more complex chapters I need to write/revise, so I can condense my revision/reading into the same month.

    Goals for the week: finish Ch. 3 (finally!) and send to advisor.

    The fam and I are heading out of town for a last-minute trip over the long weekend, but I’ll check in on comments when I can.

  4. In thinking about the to-do list/task issue, I realize that I don’t do much listing for the dissertation work. I’m sure that in later stages, I might need to do that, but right now, I’m usually okay just thinking about a big task as a big task, and then I just chip away at it. My writing group goals serve as my “list.” I suppose that if I have several hours on one day to work on it (which is rare), then I might make a list if I’m doing more than just sitting at the computer bashing away at a draft. The downside of not listing is that I do end up going down a lot of rabbit holes, especially if I’m reading and stumble across a new, shiny secondary source.

    That said, with work (teaching/service), I definitely make lists. I use CalenGoo on my iPad, and I add things to my Task list as I think of them. If the list isn’t getting shorter, despite my feelings that I’m working a lot, I will sometimes add something that I just did but didn’t list, so that I can check it off (oh the games we play). It’s always a great feeling when I get through that list. Speaking of which, I submitted grades today, and I deleted everything on my work list. I need to make a new summer list, but it’s nice to look at the empty page for a day or two.

    1. Last week’s goal: get the chapter cleaned up by Wednesday and write an abstract of Chapter 3, too, and send both off to the supervisor by Wednesday afternoon.

    2. I send off the chapter. I didn’t develop it as much as I’d hoped, but at least it’s in working order and will provide fodder for discussion with my supervisors. I did not complete the abstract of Chapter 3, but I might do that on the airplane tomorrow.

    3. It was just so awesome to be able to put so much time into the chapter. The kids were at school, and I put final grading on hold for a few days. I worked for about three hours on Monday, three or four on Tuesday, and about four on Wednesday. If I could do that on a regular basis, I might feel confident about being able to finish the thing!

    4. Next week’s goal: I will be in uni-town and will meet with my primary supervisor Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. I’ll also meet with my secondary supervisor at least once, I think. My goal is not to feel too embarrassed about the chapter I submitted. I worry that they will think I’m stupid. I need to try to feel okay with myself even if they think the work is not very good. I will also do a lot of reading and writing, but I’m not sure yet what I’ll focus on. Maybe I’ll check back in after I decide which books to pack and which to leave at home. I also need to make a list of what to look for at the university library.

    5. I take off tomorrow and will check in from the UK next week!

    • I, too, use lists mostly to keep up with ever-burgeoning teaching tasks (in fact, I bought my first PDA when I was adjuncting at 3 schools, and felt I was drowning in little tasks). Writing, as long as I keep in touch with it, seems more organic, though lists of to-dos seem to play a role in the final stages (or at least they did on the current article-in-final-stages; my experience is limited).

  5. I think that when I am overwhelmed, it is as much to do with my overall mood (how depressed I am, or not) as the specific tasks. I suppose that means that I need to remember that taking time to care for my body, mind, and spirit will help with getting things checked off the to-do list as well as feeling less overwhelmed by it.

    Goal: One hour in the morning TWTHF

    Accomplished:
    TWTh: nada
    F: 45-50 minutes revising for clarity, organization.

    Analysis:

    I’m not good at taking an hour off to work on writing or research or revising in the middle of past-due report, though I can easily take an hour off to do a crossword / kenken/ sudoku puzzle.

    I knew that, so I didn’t set a writing goal for Monday. Unfortunately I didn’t finish the report on Monday, and spent most of Tuesday and Wednesday on it, and Thursday dealing with loose ends. And fatigue.

    I’m glad I got back to the paper on Friday so that it didn’t recede too far into the background (more than 1 week off). The prospect of reporting in to this group did help me get down to work and resist running errands that could wait.

    Next Goal:
    a. 1 hour of work TWThF
    b. make a more specific plan

    At this point I am leery of making a task-oriented goal rather than an amount of time, but I do need to make a plan to finish this paper.

    • It IS so difficult to care for mind, body, and spirit. For me, it’s especially difficult to find time to take care of my body. I am so out of shape. I am bothered less by the extra weight than by the knowledge that I can’t keep up with others who want to hike, etc. I am also bothered by the knowledge that, as I age without sufficient exercise, I could be shortening my lifespan or seriously affecting my health and quality of life. Your post reminds me that I should make my health a priority. But it IS. SO. HARD.

    • @luolin: “overwhelmed” is definitely a psychological as well as physical state for me, too. Lack of sleep, exercise, good food, etc. don’t help, but the distraction of not even knowing what I need to do, and/or not having made a plan to deal with something I know is looming, is a significant part of the picture.

      @GEW: amen. I’m thinking the same thing, plus realizing that I really need to deal with some financial issues (and dealing will mean some practical, material work as well, so it’s not just a overcome-anxiety-and-deal sort of situation). Setting/juggling priorities is *not* easy.

      • OMG. Financial issues. Totally totes magotes on that. Time to take head out of the sand and work in concert with Hubby on that one. *sigh*

  6. Goal: I forgot to set a goal – but I had planned to work at least 30 minutes each day.

    Accomplished: Absolutely nothing. I was packing up my home (research leave, during which I could live in the same place as my partner, rather than 3000 miles apart) and then drove those 3000 miles.

    Analysis: I realize I consistently, remarkably over-estimate what it is possible for me to do. I also realize that, when I am stressed (during this cross-country move, for example, that is also loaded with the emotional weight of knowing that it begins another period of separation from my partner, and then knowing that are ever being together rests on whether or not I can publish enough to get a new job) I just cannot focus, even a little bit. I don’t know how to deal with this; I know that working every day, even when I have so much more on my plate, is vital to success on the tenure-track, but I just can’t get my mind to be quiet enough for work when so much more is going on. Ironically, it is worrying about the job market and our uncertain future that is preventing me from publishing as I should, when publications, particularly the book, are the only things that will get me out of my current situation.

    Next Goal: On Monday I fly to Southeast Asia, back to my research site, a 36 hour journey. My only goal is to try and read for 30 minutes each day and then, when I arrive and have slept, to make a clear week by week plan for my time there and of my daily routine whilst in the field and combining writing with new ethnographic research. Given what I said above, about my tendency to over-estimate what is possible, I need to have a good hard think about my goals.

    This week’s question: I am pretty good at setting out the stages of the research, but awful at predicting how long things will take. At the moment I have this overwhelming sense of “need to write a book, need to write a WHOLE book” but, when I am quiet enough to sit down, I do know where I need to start and can break it down into little pieces. For me the challenge is starting.

    • I can’t say I have any advice, but I do sympathize. I also find it difficult to work when I’m emotionally stressed, though I admire people who can. I guess in limited circumstances I can manage it, as when faced with a crisis of relatively short duration (as in, it will resolve one way or another within, say, 2 months), in which work looks like a peaceful escape from the chaos of real life, but in a situation involving long-term separation or similar on-going problem, I tend to get depressed and overwhelmed. I hope someone else will offer more useful thoughts to help you focus so you can write your way out of your current position. Maybe you know someone who has done that? Ask that person about how s/he did it.

    • Wow! That is a lot of travel and a lot of emotional challenges. I hope that your flight is smooth and that, when you get settled, you can set a realistic schedule.

      • Thank you, GEW and Dame Eleanor, for your kind replies. The idea of speaking to someone who has managed to work, regardless of the external circumstances, is an excellent idea. I think too that setting really modest goals for myself might be a way to begin. I leave for the airport today (Monday at lunch time) and arrive in S.E. Asia on Wednesday evening, so once I’m there and settled I very much hope I can find peace to focus. I think it will work – certainly an entirely different context will be refreshing.

    • I, too, find it hard to concentrate when stressed/distracted by the larger context (see my comments elsewhere on this thread). One of the ironic benefits of being off the tenure track, in a job with no research expectations, is that I can, as Dame Eleanor suggests, see my writing/research time as an escape, even a rebellion. But I experienced a lot of the “where is this leading” distraction/stress while writing my dissertation (with good reason, since the job market was an absolute disaster), and it comes back when I start thinking about my present work in possibly-more-instrumental terms (i.e. trying to move to a TT job). I’m not sure what to do about that, though, in teaching (which consumes most of my time), I have found that being realistic in planning helps. I now assign noticeably fewer separate papers than some of my colleagues (in a composition program), but I do fulfill the program requirements, and I make sure students can learn a lot from each one and the smaller, lower-stakes assignments that go into them. Once my approach to a particular class has settled after a revision (which it doesn’t always get a chance to do), I even manage to provide as much feedback as I want/plan to, on the schedule I plan to, sometimes.

      So maybe some form of realistic goals and triage would help? If the book is the key thing, what’s the most efficient way to get to a book (one of which you will be proud, of course)? Is there an approach to research and writing that has worked especially well for you in the past on a smaller project? Can you adapt that to the book project? Would it help to think of the book project as possibly generating spin-off projects that would serve as an “ongoing research agenda”?

      I’m not sure I know enough to ask the right questions here, but the above represents some of my own thinking as I try to shape a book project (and find it quickly getting out of hand every time I think I’ve come up with a focused approach).

      • CC, I can’t answer any of your questions since I’m only in the dissertation stage, but I can relate to your comments. I teach full-time at a community college with a heavy comp load (fortunately, I get to teach some lit, but it’s mostly comp). When I had my first kid, I streamlined grading, and recently, I have found myself doing it even more. My comp students still write a lot, but I have cut down on the revisions. But I restricted my comp/arg class, and they still wrote a LOT. Most importantly, I reduced the number of things that get submitted during finals week.

        And, as with you, my research/writing time is my escape time, my me time, which is nice is some ways, but that means that I don’t have me time devoted to other things, like exercise. But I also am fortunate in that I have a tenured position that I’m satisfied with. Sometimes I think it would be nice to apply to four-year schools when I finish the PhD, but really, I’ve got a good job in a great location, and my husband has a job at the same place. We’ve got it good. But then, of course, I often ask myself, “What’s the darn PhD for anyway?”

      • @GEW – I was in a similar position while working on the dissertation. I held an administrative position in a professional field related to my academic field. I really gave no thought to “going on the market” after defense — I was not really actively seeking another job in large part because I knew that would mean moving and hubby and I did not want to do that. Been there done that way too many times. The PhD really was for me an escape from the daily stresses of a demanding job. In some ways that was liberating because I did not have the stress of the job hunt waiting for me. I think in the end, while stressed because of the overloaded schedule, I navigated the stresses of writing better than some of my classmates because I did not face the unknown job market and moving.

        Ironically, after graduation I applied for and was offered a TT position in the professional field at an R1 near my home. It was the combination of practical experience, local connections, and degree that gave me an edge over the other candidates. So I ended up changing jobs anyway.

  7. Goal: Start writing the chapter, and write every day.

    Accomplished: Well, let’s say I puttered around in the chapter every day. I did a little bit of good work, but not enough to feel like I really accomplished much.

    Analysis: As others have noted, I found it was too easy to put off working on the manuscript so I could work on other things—planning my summer classes, reading for an abstract that’s due at the end of this week—such that those things structured my work time and I diverted my attention with novels and blogs. Typically I would open the manuscript files at the end of the day, just so I could feel like I’d worked on it every day.

    Regarding this week’s question, luolin reminded me that overwhelm is the result of the many different facets of life working, or not working, efficiently. I think I periodically need to reassess my strategies for goal setting and organization, and this is one of those times. Thanks NWGirl for the links on procrastination. I think I made a bunch of small tasks in order to distract myself from the nebulous looming one.

    Next Goal: I had a deadline of finishing the revision to chapter 1 by June 1, but realize that was unrealistic. I’d like to have the first two sections complete by the end of the week.

    Next Check In: I’ll be at a conference next weekend, but will check in when I get back Sunday or Monday.

    • Well, puttering beats doing nothing. Sometimes I think we need to putter our way into a project (and, once we have, more realistic goals will emerge).

  8. Goal: Unpack. Finish book review to clear the way for concentrating solely on the dissertation. Read intro of WYJA

    Accomplished: Read intro of WYJA. Mostly unpacked. No progress on book review whatsoever.

    Analysis: Sigh. Unpacking sucks. The only thing worse is packing. Unpacking when you are trying to incorporate things into your parents’ house is…not fun at all. Too much time went into that and not enough time went into work. The good news is that my desk is pretty much set up, so at least I finally have a space to work again, rather than the kitchen table. This week will be better.

    Next Goal: I have to finish the book review from last week, plus a review of a volume for a publisher. I will also complete Week 1 in WYJA. This has to be a productive week because I’m off to DHSI next week.

    • The desk is, indeed, crucial. Also whatever combination of bookshelves and file cabinets you use. I still need most of the above (more years than I want to admit post-move), though my couch and the surrounding piles on endtables are serving some of the same purposes.

      Enjoy DHSI! I went last summer, and very much enjoyed it (and would have even more if I hadn’t been simultaneously teaching an online class, which meant rising early and scooting back to my room immediately after class to keep up with my students).

      • Sigh. This move seemed like a good time to finish my transition to a paperless desk. I’m not quite there yet, but I did make a lot of headway and got rid of a ton of old files that I really didn’t need. The bookshelves are a challenge. There’s not enough room for all of my books in my parents’ house, so I’m trying to just keep out only what I need for the chapters I’m writing. It’s a struggle! I want my books! I feel like I’m in withdrawal!

        I’m really looking forward to DHSI. This is my first year and my school is paying for it – even better! – so I’m hoping to learn a lot and put it to use for a post-doc project next year…assuming the writing gets finished this year.

  9. I am so so glad I have this in my google reader – it reminded me last night that I had not finished my week’s goals, so I put all the fun stuff I was doing aside and did the work last night!

    I think that is a great question about making quantifiable goals and not getting overwhelmed – sometimes there are tasks that really just can’t be broken down into much smaller tasks. I’m a fan of the time goal in that scenario – I set a goal to work on a task for X tomatoes (I use the Pomodoro technique) when it’s too “big.” I am also a fan of the weekly to do list – it gives me flexibility to work based on my mood and to put things off if I want to, and I tend to get a bit oppositional with myself with a daily list. A weekly list lets me pick and choose what I work on that day, but I’m still being productive.

    Goal: Read 2nd book, type list of revisions, start to get new articles.

    Accomplished: All of these things were accomplished, though I brought in my Awesome Grad Student to work on the paper since I can’t manage all of the new articles myself. I still think delegating a task is accomplishing it though!

    Analysis: What worked? DELEGATION! 🙂 And having this check in, because it meant last night I read the second book. Most of it was crap but 2 chapters were really relevant to my paper.

    Next goal: New rough outline of manuscript, begin working on small revisions from list, possibly do analyses for the second manuscript.

    Next check in: Next weekend!

  10. Goal: write syllabus for summer class; write 1000 words each on the MMP and its companion-piece. 2000 words total this week, or some reasonable equivalent in editing.

    Accomplished: I met my word count, but it was all on the companion-piece, which is freshest in my mind. I did figure out where I currently am with the MMP. Syllabus remains undone, though I did a little work toward class planning.

    Analysis: Work proceeded in fits and starts: one day setting up the new laptop, one day on campus, one day producing 1500 words, another at 360 words, one of no words while I stared at a recalcitrant marginal comment, paging through different Latin dictionaries trying to work out what it said, one day of 200 or so words plus insight into the obnoxious comment. I loved the super-productive day when I was on a roll, and I hope to have another of those in the coming week. I think it’s good to have a steady manageable goal like 500 words a day, and at the same time to accept that in practice fantastic days may alternate with days of chipping out a sentence at a time.

    Next Goal: I’m going to be ambitious and say 2000 more words, on either piece as the spirit moves me. Also I need to do some phonetic transcription and reading for another project. So I’m going to try to work out some “office hours” to stick to.

    • I think it’s good to have a steady manageable goal like 500 words a day, and at the same time to accept that in practice fantastic days may alternate with days of chipping out a sentence at a time.

      This makes sense to me. I think it’s how work actually, in practice proceeds, for many of us.

      Also, I love the image of your stare-down with the recalcitrant marginal comment. I’ve spent similar days, and some of them even turned up something interesting/important.

  11. Last Goal: Continue analysis on LM paper & complete at least one comparison memo & complete Week 1 in WYJA.

    Accomplished: I did continue the analysis, completed a comparison memo, another memo and started a rough outline for the presentation. I also completed Week 1 in WYJA but didn’t do the sections on my writing schedule.

    Analysis: I set a smaller goal than normal last week because I knew it would be my last week with my son at home and I wanted to spend time with him. I managed to spend time with him and get more done than I anticipated (although a lot was done yesterday after he left). I realize how much I need a few hours to myself each day to be productive. I also know the analysis of this paper (and even pulling together the presentation) is not the hard part of writing for me. I enjoy it and look forward to working on it. WYJA is really interesting and I might want to use it with my students but Week 1 wasn’t that personally helpful because I already have a fairly good writing schedule and have several writing spaces (actually I can write pretty much anywhere). I also don’t have many negative feelings about writing. I love to write and do it as much as I can. However the more I write the more there is too write and there never feels like there is enough time. Just working on this one LM paper makes me want to write 2 or 3 from the analysis.

    Next Goal: I am going to continue fleshing out the presentation outline for the LM paper as well as tackle some of the literature review that needs to be incorporated into the paper. For next week I’ll be happy if I get through the readings I’ve identified and write a lit review memo from the notes I take. I will also work on Week 2 of WYJA.

    Timelines & To Do Lists: I am a BIG fan of To Do lists. Before academia I was a project manager and created To Do Lists & Timelines for myself and for my staff. I keep a weekly list that includes all work-related tasks (writing and other activities) and sometimes I keep a separate list for non-work related (life) tasks. I alternate between having very specific and more global tasks about a writing project on my list. However even my specific tasks are fairly broad (like the goals I list here). The breadth of the goal really depends on my mood while creating the list. What I find really difficult is feeling penned in by things like word counts. I like my goals and tasks to allow for flexibility. For example, I have no problem with writing every day as a goal but will rebel (against myself) if I have to write at a specific time each day.

  12. Goal: WYJA Week 2

    Accomplished: Week 2, Days 1 and 2

    Analysis: My inlaws left on Tuesday and after a week of being on the go with them every day, I was exhausted! I didn’t get anything done Tuesday, spent 30 minutes on Wednesday, and then 4 hours on Saturday morning. In that time all I did was read the WYJA chapter, and then re-read my entire dissertation carefully, something which I haven’t done in three years when I submitted it for graduation. That took longer than I realized it would, but in re-reading it, I think I have two articles in there that I should try to write. I haven’t quite decided yet which one of those two I am going to try to do this summer (one on the various identities my participants discussed, and one that is more practical and could be helpful for study abroad staff to know). I’m more excited about the identities one, but I think the practical one is information that needs to be shared.

    I totally let myself procrastinate on other things on Thursday and Friday. I tried to work first thing but just couldn’t make myself. I think what would help is if I took a shower and got dressed first, so I felt more in work-mode instead of staying in my pajamas.

    Next Goal: Finish WYJA Week 2 and complete Week 3. Take a shower and get dressed first, and then get to writing every morning. Not let babyshower planning interfere with writing time. (I’m throwing a shower for my sister in July and there are just so many cute ideas online that could totally take up the next two months of my time to prepare).

    • My vote is for the identities paper if you find it more exciting. I often find myself with that decision and whenever I go with the practical paper, it takes me longer to write.

    • I, too, would tend toward the one you find more exciting. Also, is there a chance that you could work on the practical one during the school year, or whenever you’re actually dealing with the practicalities involved? That might make sense (assuming you’re not dealing with practicalities now).

      Is there any difference between the two in terms of what kind of job it might help you get and/or keep, and where you want to be headed in the next few years?

      • Wow, I wasn’t expecting responses to my check-in! Thank you. I actually just sat down tonight and tried to write a brief description of both papers and after trying to do that it was apparent that I should go with the identities paper. And then I came on here and see that your comments confirm that! Yay!

        I am a SAHM currently (not planning to go back to work for a few years) so theoretically I have time to write both papers before I am job-searching again.

  13. Goal: write up 500 words from the notes from the meeting and to complete the prep work for the NextBigPaper (one easy make-some-figures task, one complicated work out how to do it and do it task).
    Accomplished:
    * wrote up the notes and circulated them around the rest of the writing group. Now I get to wait on other people doing stuff…
    * The prep work for the NextBigPaper isn’t completed, but I did the things I outlined last week (even though one of them is still confusing. I ran a dataset through the same software on the same settings ten times, and it produced a sensible answer twice and garbage eight times). I am now ready to write up the ‘what we learn from this study’ bit, but to make it a Big paper (which the REF incentivises) I also need to show ‘how we can use that to address problem X’, not just by saying ‘we can use this to…’ but by actually solving an example of problem X where the solution is already known by other means.
    * I went back over the notes and simulations I did for a paper with DrVisit, and I had done more than I thought, so am now (naturally) inspired to work on THAT not on the other…
    * Whilst talking to my master’s student about her statistics module, I suddenly realised that I’d done the analysis wrong again for the paper with last year’s MSc student. Better now than in review! This is the problem of using unfamiliar software…
    Analysis: Things with students always take longer than you expect. ALWAYS. And I ended up losing the best part of two days to being too depressed/anxious to do much except sleep and worry. But I continued to chip away, and sometimes analysis tasks are quite therapeutic as they involve repetitive tasks leading into thinking about concrete things (the next step, how to graph this data) rather than ‘aargh I have so much to DOOOOO’.
    Next Goal: Monday I have meetings. Tuesday I have to meet students in the morning and then a medical appointment in the afternoon. Wednesday and Thursday are currently free, and of course there is work time on Friday/Saturday when I’m not in the office which counts towards this week’s goals. So: my goals are to finish the analysis for NextBigPaper, outline what needs doing to turn the idea with DrVisit into a paper, and write enough to send it to DrVisit, and thirdly to redo the analysis for the paper with last year’s MSc student.

  14. Defining goals: sometimes I think psycgirl is my long-lost twin! She said: I tend to get a bit oppositional with myself with a daily list. A weekly list lets me pick and choose what I work on that day, but I’m still being productive. and that really describes my experience.

    I try to take a look at the bigger picture maybe once a month or so, but tend to find that daunting and scary, so the only things I have from that larger list around on a regular basis are some ‘KPIs’ – and they’re deliberately kept quite modest for my level/field. Writing examples are 2 papers submitted to decent peer-reviewed journals per year, one as first author and one as co-author, and refereeing three papers for equivalent journals (‘paying my dues’ – I aim to referee two papers for any first author or sole author piece I publish and one for ones where I’m not first author (which assumes that the first author will do one at some point) and above that limit I do take on papers, but only if the title/abstract is interesting or I have the time, otherwise I feel a clear conscience in saying no).

    I’m not very good at sticking to goals. I love making plans and lists, but actually doing them… meh, I get bored.

    • “I’m not very good at sticking to goals. I love making plans and lists, but actually doing them… meh, I get bored.” –This made me laugh. I can relate! I also love starting a project but hate finishing it; I get bored there too!

      • Yep. I’ll have an abstract accepted, then feel excited about the project, then get bogged down and think oh, as soon as I finish the drudgery of Project Q, I can get to work on Project V! Then Project V becomes drudgery. Thankfully it’s a process that yields positive results.

    • I don’t really do daily lists either unless I need to write things down in order to remember them (e.g., call the doctor, clean cat box, grade that late paper from the student who was in the hospital, buy crickets for the lizard). Otherwise, I just keep a running list on my iPad that I check to keep me focused.

  15. This is going to be a quick check-in, since this was a difficult week, and part of my plan for making next week better is to go to bed on time tonight. I may come back tomorrow and ruminate a bit more , and read/comment on others’ comments, if comments are still open.

    Goal for last week: accomplish 2 ancillary tasks; get reacquainted with J-paper

    Accomplished: very small dribs and drabs on one ancillary task

    Analysis (brief version): summer course is time-consuming; some unexpected changes coming up in my department are potentially even more so (and also stress-producing, which is making everything else more complicated). Among other things, I may have to rethink summer goals. The good news is that I managed to use the weekend to get myself semi-organized despite an off sleep schedule, and plan to do tomorrow what I planned to do Saturday: reacquaint myself with the J paper.

    Goal for this week: reacquaint myself at some length with the J paper on M; write on Tu and Th. Accomplish 2 ancillary tasks (one of which is actually different from the 2 originally planned for last week; that one has been postponed until next week.

    It definitely helps to need to check in; I’m not sure I would have done as much planning and organizing this weekend if I didn’t have the accountability. One of the things I did this weekend is do a good deal of planning, both for the present online course and other detailed ongoing projects, and for the summer as a whole (I use an outliner/task manager called Bonsai, which runs on my computer, flash drive, and the Palm PDA I still carry. I’ve by no means solved the problems mentioned above, but regular reviews of the task outline and my calendar do help. At some point I’ll update my devices and play with more up-to-date software, but for the moment what I’ve got is working reasonably well). Although the outliner could be used to break down writing tasks into smaller pieces, for the most part I manage my writing by leaving myself notes in the draft, or occasionally in a writing log.

    • Okay, back for a bit more reflection, after a productive, focused morning (really 1.5 to 2 hours, but it was enough) spent reacquainting myself with the J draft, which is actually in pretty good shape, and which I now have a plan for continuing work on (more a “let’s do this first and see how it goes” plan than a week-by-week one, but I think that makes sense, and will work out okay).

      One thing (besides accountability) that I’m realizing helps at lot: word limits. I know this article needs to be 5,000 to 9,000 words, to meet the requirements of several journals in my field (since it’s new work on a relatively well-known author, I’m thinking of taking the route of submitting to one of the most prestigious broad-focus journals in my field with a reputation for relatively quick turnaround ties, with the knowledge that it will probably be rejected, but the hope that I’ll get good feedback, and can revise for one of the more targeted, and still quite widely-read and cited and hence respected, journals in the sub-field in which it belongs ). Since I tend to write long, often creating several rough versions of the same section in the process of brainstorming/outlining/shitty-rough drafting, “write x words today” goals don’t work very well for me. But I’m realizing that word limits do help a lot, in helping me figure out how much a particular article can include. I’m hoping that that can carry over into book chapters when I get to that stage (and I very much wish someone had suggested appropriate word-count ranges for my diss as a whole and for the individual chapters, which have a certain kitchen-sink quality, not to mention far too many long quotations from the primary sources). As a result of this focus on word limits, I may also have identified a part of the J article that needs to be a spinoff project. That would not be a bad thing, since it would allow a focused look at something that combines professional and personal interests.

      One thing that helps a bit in the face of the frustrations of being a non-TT member of an administered program (which means that, even when the people who do do service/administartion have the best intentions, there’s a tendency for edicts-from-on-high to come down at unpredictable and inopportune moments, and to be adapted to the style of the person who designed the response, but not necessarily to the other members of the program, who hadn’t even been told there was a problem to be solved): more writing. At the moment, I’m drafting a letter to some of the key players in my department and program describing some of what I’ve observed about how our program does and doesn’t work. I’m not sure yet whether I will send it. I probably will, at least in some abbreviated, and very carefully/diplomatically phrased, form (see “writing long,” above). But not anywhere near immediately. For the moment, it helps, at least a bit, just to work out in writing what I think is wrong (and right). I actually had the file with the draft letter open while I was working on the J article today, and turned to it and put some thoughts down periodically before going back to J. That’s not ideal, but it’s less distracting than doing nothing.

      So, things seem to be looking up a bit. But I (deliberately) have not checked my inbox today, and need to go do that now.

      • Oh, and one more note regarding effects of administrative edict/kerfuffle: whatever I choose to do or not do (this summer, this coming year, or next summer; I do have some time, but I think being involved sooner rather than later *might* offer some chance to shape the direction of things), responding in some way (compliance, attempted conversation, protest, whatever) is going to take time, and that time is going to come out of what would otherwise be writing/research time. There’s no shortcut solution, which is a big part of the problem/frustration. So my goal for the summer may need to be revised. I’m still determined to finish the J article by July 21, and will go on at least one P-project-related research trip, but that might be it. Getting in some rest, relaxation, and exercise is also seeming all the more important, since the stress/frustration of this all is having worrying physical effects.

  16. Goal: Commit backstory idea to paper (or computer) so I don’t forget it. Read 2 chapters of book 1 (already started) for research.

    Accomplished: Read 1.5 chapters, didn’t write backstory. Worried about moving.

    Analysis: Moving sucks. We’re moving some next weekend, and all the rest in a few weeks, after spending several days apartment hunting. I get so caught up in the hassel of moving and worrying about finding a job (husband will have secure income once we move) that I forget that checking my e-mail for the 80th time isn’t productive. I need to keep carving out space for myself–something I struggled with during the spring semester too–despite the chaos. And less trying to read before bed. Sounds nice in theory but I’ve been falling asleep pretty quickly after!

    New goal: Read 4 chapters (or 3 chapters and some of the DVD), apply to one job (due next week), moving stuff. Bonus: write 1 page, even with pen and paper.

    Next check-in: We’ll be loading, driving, unloading and painting next weekend so I won’t check in until the weekend of June 8th.

    I don’t know about dividing things up into smaller, manageable tasks, because that in itself become procrastination for me most of the time. I make lists for things I worry I’ll forget, or need to keep track of as far as dates are concerned, but generally I plow through, especially academic writing, until it’s time to really revise/edit sections. Writing first, ask questions later. “

    • I moved so often for so long, but now I’ve been in the same house for 9.5 years. but I feel your pain, and I wish you the best of luck amidst it all. And if you actually get work done, I think you deserve a prize.

      Oh, and regarding reading before bed. I have decided that those few minutes (and it is often just a few) are for leisure reading only so that I can settle my mind and heart.

      • We were in our house for 7 years, and now we will be moving for the second time in 12 months. UGH.

        I probably should just make those reading minutes before bed for enjoyment. I do fall into a pattern of only reading one book at a time or else I don’t finish them.

    • Yes, moving sucks (and is a major time and energy suck). I’m still trying to figure out the reading-before-bed thing, too. The only routine that has ever really worked for me (sporadically) is to make that my time for Bible/other devotional reading. But it’s still quick, and yes, I tend to fall asleep, and wonder whether I should be doing it at a higher-focus time of day. But it is centering (though I worry about that, too, since I’m of the mind that the Bible should, at least on occasion, be as challenging/disturbing as comforting).

      I’m thinking of working in some professional or other reading at the end of the day, not in bed, but on the couch, after I’ve set aside the laptop for the evening (this will probably have to wait until my online class is over, though maybe now that I’ve got them started. . . .). Actual reading-in-bed would come afterward, and be shorter.

      Good luck with the move, and with settling in again afterward. I still haven’t, which one of many problems I really should tackle this summer.

      • P.S. Another good time I’ve found for professional reading-that-leads-to-writing is first thing in the morning, along the lines of the routine nwgirl mentions way upthread. Of course, one has to have a chunk of morning time available, and to be careful that it doesn’t turn into a morning of reading but not writing. Reading over materials that one is about to write about (as planned at the end of the previous writing session) works best.

      • Re the PS: I had a delightful thing like this happen this morning–although I don’t typically read on the manu. topic in the mornings, I came across a journal article and was able to drop in a quote that helped me structure a troubling transition. Love it when the good stuff sneaks up on you.

      • I’m essentially useless in the morning. I’m much more of a night owl, anything I read in the morning (without being up for a while) isn’t retained at all. I’ve tried fighting this for years, but given that I’m likely to lay in bed awake anyway, I might as well do something then (and at least I’ll fall asleep rather than lay awake and toss and turn!). I do enjoy reading Real Simple before bed, even if I’m deluded myself into thinking I’ll be more organized when I get up.

  17. Goal: Decide between working on the drudge work of the diss, or the excitement of the new article.

    Accomplished: I borrowed the Writing your journal article in twelve weeks book from ILL. I have begun parsing it for a workable plan, which may take more than twelve weeks for me. I also created a full list of things that have to be done/checked for the dissertation, and tried to put some sort of time structure to it– reformat 40 textual notes a day; verify 3 pages of bibliography, that sort of thing.

    Analysis: After scanning the journal article writing book (sorry, I’m not at home, and not sure of the title), I decided to interleave the drudge work with the planning for the new article (somewhat of a stick/carrot sort of plan). The drudge work can be done when I am not capable of full mental involvement, as there are many rote steps as well as proofreading and other checks down the way before it sees the light of day. Then I can wash the grit of mining off with a deep dive into the article planning, which is new enough that even writing for permission to use various collections is not yet onerous.

    Next week’s goal: firm up the plan to alternate the diss and the article, whether by alternate days, split days or whim 🙂

    Ah, the to-do list. A few things have worked for me at times–other times, I can be stubborn and unrepentant in my procrastination. I keep a master list, with work and life combined–I tried two lists and invariably forgot about one of them for extended periods.

    I also distinguish things by color–urgent is red; important, green. I pick three things to do every day; if they are very small, I may pick three work and three life. I write them in my calendar for that day. I find that saves me from having to transfer a ton of things to the next day, and the next, yet gives me the satisfaction of crossing something off the list every day (or nearly every day). If by some miracle, I get through all three things by my lunch break, I might delve back into the master list for a couple things for the afternoon break.

    Another thing I have learned to do through experience is to block time out on my calendar for “meetings with me.” I find that if I give myself some time to check in, see how I am doing on projects, feeling about things, I work more efficiently. It’s something I had done for years with my staff, without realizing how important it was to do for myself. It has helped me realize that a former job was making me sick; that I was chasing a research project that would take years beyond tenure to complete, and that should be shelved for the moment; and that I had a small little voice in my head that had pretty good advice if I could shut up long enough to listen to it.

    As for how to approach revisions, I have only been able to schedule time or posit an amount of pages to get through in a day or week.

    • Sounds like much the same solution I came up with – something interesting mixed in with something which has to be done.

      And I like your suggestions for to-do lists. I just uncovered my very nice diary which I bought at the beginning of the year, to write lists in, and tick them off. Half un-used, but there’s still half a year to go!

  18. Goal: Readable paper
    Accomplished: some very minor progress on methods, good progress on tables and figures, fixed figures that have been bugging me for a long time. they’re now also ready for posters and talks. readable paper? Not so much, but….
    Analysis: Conference is fantastic. Course was brilliant, my talk was really good, very well received/complimented/discussed, got major award, and still busy networking the living daylights out of everybody.
    And (drumroll!!!!) was offered and accepted (of course!) TT Assistant Prof job at small school in lovely area!!! Still sinking in that I’m now moving in less than 2 months, and will have a real job… Thesis plan will be reorganized somewhat, for a later defence, but job school is ok with that, contract is signed, and there’s no more black holoe at the end of degree to stare at. Needless to say, I’m pretty ridiculously thrilled. And have already picked up several invitations to talk at surrounding schools, and had offers for joint projects! Yay!!!
    So, conference is only 1/3 done, and then I go on a week long field trip. So no check-in next week. I’m officially calling this my vacation, there will not be another for the rest of summer I think!
    Till later, good luck with all the work, I’m really inspired by this group!

  19. Hello, and sorry for late check-in!!!

    Goal: Week 5,6,and 7 of WYJA.

    Accomplished: Not really done. I don’t have to say ‘nothing’ , but far little I have accomplished this week.

    Analysys: Perhaps I was too tired after the conference on Saturday last week. It was held a place not so close to my town, and I attended only one day, so I departed very early and got back very late. The talks I heard were good and inspiring, but some news I heard at the reception and other gatherings were not very happy ones. I had my own meeting related to my Leeds paper, which was pruductive, but exhausting as well. because of this, first three days of the week I felt bad and went to bed early.

    Next goal: mainly Week 8 and 10 and the unfinished part of Week 5, 6, 7.

    I sometimes try Pomodoro method, like psyc girl, or perhaps Pomodoro-like method. I set timer usually 15 to 30 minutes, and just do something till it rings.

    I usually love big goals when planning, because it makes me ambitious. Then, when I plan one week goal, I set a small goal which I hope can be done the week. Sometimes I set time-goal, I mean by this is , ‘ doing this 30 minutes every day’, like writing, and project-goal, too , that is, ‘finishing reading this by Wednesday’. Time-goal encourages me because I can do time-work unless I am not lazy, while project-goal can not be accomplished even though I work hard. So, I usually set two types of goal, so that I can do some of them.

    • It sounds like a very full professional week/fortnight, even if you weren’t writing a lot. Sometimes it takes a while to absorb things, good and bad.

  20. Hello All,

    I look forward to gleaning tricks from your posts in regards to managing revisions and never-ending to-do lists! I don’t have any tips with regards to writing yet, I don’t think, but in general, the same methods that worked for me as a young child still work: sticker charts and if a task is particularly undesirable, dangling rewards (like a massage or pedicure or ice cream or time off) for completion of the task. I imagine I will employ similar techniques to make writing happen.

    This week’s goal: Get those 2 sections of materials and methods done this week. Revise an outline for a paper (or papers) after a conference call with a collaborator

    Accomplished: I at least got some words on a page for the materials and methods and that felt good. Most of my time was spent working on paper outlines. (Fortunately, my collaborator agrees on how we want to structure the papers!) An unexpected result of this is that we are ready to meet with the company that also needs to weigh in on paper structure…so the weekend was spent putting the outlines (and data the company has never seen) into slides in a hopefully digestible format so that I can talk them through the papers on Tuesday at 9am. (Side note: It’s foolish to schedule 9am meetings the day after holiday weekends if you intended to take holiday weekend off.)

    Analysis: When I’m excited about something, I get it done. (I’m quite excited about the papers we’re working on, so working on the outlines was kind of fun and it happened early in the week.) When I’m less excited, I procrastinate. (Those sections of M&M…yeah…they got written about 20 minutes ago when I realized I needed to check in and felt bad about almost failing a 20 minute goal two weeks in a row.) Conclusion: both excitement and shame are good motivators.

    Goal for next week: Communicate outlines and ideas to all collaborators and have a plan for how each party will write their sections moving forward. ( It’s still going to be writing-lite as we’re pushing to get the experiments for these papers finished in the next couple of weeks.)

  21. Goals / Accomplished / Analysis: Unfortunately, I met NONE of my goals this week. Instead… I read the Song of Ice and Fire series, and just barely met my other responsibilities (taking care of child, prepping lecture, etc.). Not good. Last week it was Middlemarch. Talk about escaping responsibilities! These books are like drugs… This week I’m going to do my best to regain the real, non-escapist enjoyment of meeting responsibilities… by using quick writing on http://750words.com/ to analyze and get rid of blocks, and working by promising myself I can work for 10 minutes and read for 2 (http://www.43folders.com/2006/07/17/podcast-dash-break).

    Next goal: Just plain old WORK on writing every day. Except Monday, since I’ve blown it already….! Maybe I can do a few minutes tonight…

    For to-do lists, I really like Remember The Milk (http://www.rememberthemilk.com/). You can make a list without specifying a date, make different sets of lists, etc. (all free). I like the idea of trying to accomplish just three important things; and I’ve used David Allen’s Getting Things Done with success in the past– http://www.43folders.com/2004/09/08/getting-started-with-getting-things-done is a really good place to learn about it.

    • Tomorrow is another day and the beginning of another week. I have the same problem with pleasure reading and when I find myself struggling I have to hide the books — basically do what you’re doing, putting the writing first. It’s hard to do, especially in the summer when I do most of my pleasure reading. Ah, so many books so little time.

      I have used Remember the Milk and like the program. I had forgotten about it.

  22. Argh! Almost missed this week as well!

    My goal for last week, unstated, was to sort out what article I was going to work on this ‘summer’.

    Accomplished: I had a really good talk with my ex-supervisor, and have come up with a general topic, and a very specific aim (for a conference about this time next year, but with publishing attached).

    Commentary: Well, it’s good to have input from outside. The topic I’ll be working on does not, I admit, fill me with joy. I guess I’d just really like to do something new, but the conference (Nuns Literacies) is on my thesis topic… I have been wondering (as this project is not due for a while) whether I should attempt to work on two topics at once, so as to avoid one by doing the other, but I’m really not sure if that would work. I’m pretty good at the avoid-y stuff, so I’m not sure if I should encourage it.

    Goal for this next week: Work through week 1 and 2 of the WYJA, now that I’ve got the book. Sort out time for the ‘summer’ (a week or two late, but better late than never!). Decide if I’ll go for two articles at once…

  23. Sorry for not checking in! Last week’s goal was to read through what I had written so far and figure out what needed to happen next.
    Accomplished: Read through the article, fixed some figure numbers, and figured out what I need to do next.
    Analysis: Ugh, I need to find a better way to keep track of where I am and what I’m doing. I’m fine as long as I work on it every day, but if I skip a day I’m lost. I find that I lose track of what papers I’ve already read and which I still need to finish. Does anyone have a good system for this?
    Next Goal: To add to the section I’m working on. It’s tricky because it’s an area that I’m less familiar with, but need to understand before I can keep writing. So the best I may be able to do is to keep reading and working my way through the literature before writing, but I really want to get something written!

  24. For some reason the feed didn’t pull in this week’s post and I didn’t get around to looking through my feeds to find the website until now… Goal – much was accomplished in getting through interlibrary loans, but that was about it. Next week goal is just to work on SOMETHING of it – I have several things I could work on next, but since I’ll be out of town I want to give myself the option of whatever ends up feeling the easiest to actually sit down and do while I’m at my relatives.

  25. That should say -that was really my goal for NEXT week, not this week since it’s already done before I could find the post… and yes it took two weeks to get my other goal done, but so be it…

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