Keeping Track (Summer Writing Group: Week 3)

Thanks to all for lively commenting last week. I’ve been trying some new strategies for organizing myself, including the “three things” idea and revisiting life with a whiteboard (see photo). I’m sorry I was off the radar for most of the weekend. I was away on a good last-minute trip, rather than a hard one, but I still didn’t end up with much extra time for work/blog stuff.

Here’s an issue that came up in the comments last week that follows from our discussion of to-do lists and breaking down larger tasks. Becky asks advice on the problem of having the reacquaint oneself with one’s previous work before being able to move ahead:

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?

So what about it, fellow writers? How do you keep track of what you’ve done, or where you are?

Again, comment on comments, if you get a chance.

Happy writing!

Roll Call:

Amstr [complete dissertation]: finish Ch. 3 (finally!) and send to advisor.
Aria
[something ??]: ?
Becky
[journal article]: add to the section I’m working on
Contingent Cassandra
[full draft of J by 7/21; progress on P project]: reacquaint myself at some length with the J paper on M; write on Tu and Th. Accomplish 2 ancillary tasks
Daisy
[finish thesis]:  vacation!!! celebration!!! (check-in 6/8)
DEH
[finish and submit MMP and article]: 2000 more words, on either piece; some phonetic transcription and reading for another project; work out some “office hours” to stick to.
Elizabeth Anne Mitchell
[progress on diss or article]: firm up the plan to alternate the diss and the article, whether by alternate days, split days or whim
emmawriting
[2 articles submitted; work on 1 of 2 articles]: Just plain old WORK on writing every day. Except Monday.
Erika
[submit article; misc small deadlines]: ???
GEW
[draft of new chapter; edit article]: My goal is not to feel too embarrassed about the chapter I submitted; a lot of reading and writing.
humming42
[complete book MS]: the first two sections of Ch. 1 complete.
JaneB
[chip away at writing backlog]: 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.
jenk
[submit article; materials/methods + research sections of thesis]: Communicate outlines and ideas to all collaborators and have a plan for how each party will write their sections moving forward.
Kirstin
[rough draft of journal article]: 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.
kiwimedievalist
[article]: 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…
luolin88
[finish and submit journal article; start next article]: a. 1 hour of work TWThF, b. make a more specific plan
Matilda
[2 of 4: paper, 3 presentations]: mainly Week 8 and 10 and the unfinished part of Week 5, 6, 7
NWGirl
[revise 2 papers for publication]: Finish Reviewing the Related Literature, etc. (same as this past week, but I plan to finish)
profgrrrrl
[2 book projects; various MS]: ???
psycgirl
[R&R MS; submit MS#2; outline review article]: New rough outline of manuscript, begin working on small revisions from list, possibly do analyses for the second manuscript.
rented life
[2 solid book chapters]: 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 6/8]
rocket
[article & old project submitted; prelim new project]: ?
Ruthie
[chapter; book proposal; 2 articles]: read for 30 minutes each day; make a clear week by week plan for my time there and of my daily routine
Sapience
[complete diss; decide scope of new idea]: 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)
tracynicolerose
[P&P and LM papers ready for conference mid-summer]: continue fleshing out the presentation outline for the LM; tackle some of the literature review; 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.
Trapped in Canadia
[2 diss. chapters; 1 turned into edited book ch.]: 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.

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47 thoughts on “Keeping Track (Summer Writing Group: Week 3)

  1. so now the RSS decides to work again (after I’d finally gotten around to finding the url to check the old fashioned way). Anyway – as I just listed a minute ago on last last week’s post – it really took me most of these two weeks to meet last week’s goal (but that’s fine, as it was done by the time I needed to be done) – Goal for next week is to just make some progress – I will be out of town and staying with relatives, so I’m leaving the options of my next steps open to pick whatever feels the easiest to do while there.

  2. I’ve tried a lot of different ways of keeping track of what I’ve done, but none seems to work terribly well. I’m more likel to forget to use whatever system than the actual things that have to get done. I do sometimes use a whiteboard task list or the gmail task list, but nothing consistent.

    last week’s goal: 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)

    Accomplished: read 10 articles, worked a teensy bit on chapter 4, and revised my job letter.

    Analysis: I worked a lot more on my job letter than on my dissertation. Whoops. I even felt guilty enough about it to tell one of my advisors, and she looked at me very puzzled and asked why I thought my letter needed revising at all. Clearly, procrastination on my part. But I’m becoming convinced that what chapter 4 really needs is a few years off before I come back to it. I’m unsure if it’s good enough for the diss; it probably is, but it will be noticeably weaker than the rest of the project. But, I’ll talk to my advisors and see what they say; if it’s good enough, I can quit agonizing for now and start doing the editing/proofreading that needs to happen.

    Goals for next week: 10 more articles, this time in preparation for my summer seminar; start editing the diss. Perhaps allow procrastination in the form of more job market material revision.

    • I think you’ve hit on something–consistency is key in keeping track. I’ve got a few different systems to keep track of notes, and I haven’t moved it all into one system, so I continually have to go search through two databases for reminders of what I’ve read.

  3. The most useful thing in terms of the ‘if I skip a day, I get lost’ problem is that I take five minutes at the end of a work session to jot down 2-3 sentences of what I did today and the key points I need to remember – e.g. where I’m up to in reading that book etc.

    Being in STEM, I can divide paper writing into an analysis stage, a reading stage and a writing stage. In the analysis stage, I sometimes continue to use my laboratory notebook to at least jot down things like my file naming system or, if I need to do something ten times to ten different files, I draw a row of ten boxes or a list of the file codes and tick off each time I do it – this makes it easier to come back and see where I am. Increasingly though I use a simple word processor document which becomes that paper’s research journal through the analysis AND the reading stages. I stick screenshots of software or of the key bits of a paper in pdf, random thoughts about the project as I go along, lists, tables etc., adding to it every day I work on the project. It’s useful to then print it out when I’m really ready to work on a first draft.

    I’ve switched more to using the e-document, and one per project, partly as the number of things I work on proliferates and more project switching happens (collaboration in particular means paper-projects can have gaps of 6-8 weeks when I CAN’T work on them, even if I’m not at a handy break point, but the other parts of the job also intervene) and partly because I try to cut down on the number of physical objects that need to be taken from place to place repeatedly (for the sake of both my aging memory and my creaky back) so I use dropbox folders which I can access from any computer as the main repository of materials. With printout stages, due to my Ludditish (and possibly generational) preference for fountain pen editing with arrows and scribbles all over the place, to shake up my thinking once I’ve got something concrete to work on.

    Sometimes the list for a project next time just goes on a series of post-its stuck up on the wall/computer/desk/papers. I find that works for me in the reading stage especially, and if I have postits that I like using it’s almost a mini reward at the end of a writing session (e.g. I found some multi-coloured leaf shape ones, which let me use different coloured leaves for each project, and it was just more fun to write notes on leaves/see leaves stuck to the wall/papers. I need more of those…).

    Here’s a question that might be fun to discuss some week – what balance between physical and electronic forms of drafts and physical and electronic writing media works for you? For example, some of us probably write drafts long hand, others use word processor software to write then do major edits with a pen on a paper copy, others do the lot on a computer… pros and cons?

    I’ll report in tomorrow sometime. I… um… need to actually DO some work first. Which I am procrastinating by commenting here.

    • I like the idea of taking five minutes at the end of a work session to jot down notes, points of direction, etc. That might be really helpful for me. Thanks!

  4. Thanks for your thoughts so far! I’m going to have to play around with them and see if one of your ideas will work for me. I think JaneB had a great point about dividing the paper into stages. I’m also in a STEM field and maybe part of my problem has been that I find myself jumping around between reading and writing. Thanks JaneB, I may start using your system. The white board may also make a comeback!

    Last week’s goal – add to the section I’m working on

    Accomplished – read a few more papers

    Analysis – This week was tough and I didn’t get nearly as much done as I had hoped. This is due to external factors beyond my control and that are mostly over right now. Hopefully next week will be calmer and more productive.

    Goals for next week – Read more for the section I’m working on. I’m going to try to focus just on reading and getting my thoughts together before attempting to write again. Maybe some more time to process will help with the writing.

  5. Last Week’s Goal: Finish WYJA Week 2, do Week 3, shower first, not let baby shower planning interfere.

    Accomplished: I showered first! And I finished Week 2. I don’t think baby shower planning was a problem, either. I haven’t started on Week 3 yet.

    Analysis: I didn’t get to Week 3 because my 1 year old had a fever Mon-Wed, I had a fever all day Wed and Thurs, and now my 3 year old has a fever. So we’ve been in survival-mode. I do think that showering helped, though, on the days I wasn’t totally out of it due to lack of sleep or my own feverishness. I also spent some of the time I could have been working on helping my mom think through and revise her dissertation proposal.

    Goals for Next Week: WYJA Week 3. I think I should get my dissertation chair’s general advice and input about what journals I should consider, since I see that that is what is coming up in Week 4. So email Zsuzsi is also a goal for next week.

  6. Hello,

    Goal: Week 8 and 10 of WYJA, and unfinshed part of Week 5,6, and 7

    Accomplished: not so much as I hoped. I was supposed to finish writing a first draft of my Leeds paper working with WYJA, but not yet.

    Analysis: It went quite well around writing abstract, but I am stopping at the stage of constructing my argument. I have been trying to construct my argument, but still no satisfied. Another reason is that I had to prepare for the mid-term exams for my classes, and I was not able to get my brain swich to my paper properly.

    Next goal: finishing a first draft, using WYJA.
    This week, I am not planning to work along any particular section of WYJA, but use it when I need some help and want me to cheer up.

    Keeping track is difficult for me. As for me, keeping a research notebook is the easiest and suits me, though I am not sure this is the most effective. It is easy, because I just write down anything like the article I am reading, the book I am going to search, or the inspiration I got during conversation with my colleague and so on, and always write down the date as well. When you look your note, it looks messy, but you usually remember what you were doing and thinking.

    • Switching gears from other tasks to writing is hard. I’ve had a full week of kid-related end-of-the-year activities, and it’s hard to think about writing at all. With only one left to go tomorrow, I’m finally able to sit down with a clear head to write. I hope that argument starts fitting together well.

  7. This week’s goal: finish the book review from last week, plus a review of a volume for a publisher, and complete Week 1 in WYJA.

    Accomplished: zip, zero, zilch, nada

    Next week’s goal: nothing because I’ll be at DHSI and want to focus on that

    Analysis: This week was an epic failure in writing and accomplishing, well, anything really. I’ve unpacked a lot more and been trying to find a summer job, but with no success whatsoever. To say I’m stressed about money is quite an understatement. I haven’t been able to focus on anything else, really. It’s all-consuming. I moved in with my parents again because I’m so broke and things are just getting worse. I’m hoping DHSI will be a break that I need to refocus and regroup. I also have a job interview immediately upon return, so fingers crossed that that will lead to a job.

    As for breaking down tasks, like Sapience, I’ve tried a lot of different systems, but none have been very effective for me. I’ve found that I tend to procrastinate by breaking things down into too small of tasks, so my focus now has been stopping myself from doing that and keeping larger (but manageable) goals, like read a certain number of books or articles in a week or a number of words per day. The most helpful advice I was ever given was to use one of those giant 3 or 4 month wipeable, whiteboard-esque calendars. It allows me to see the large picture and, most importantly, to set start deadlines for a task, not just finish deadlines. Start deadlines are the key…even if I sometimes miss them!

    I won’t check in next week, but I’ll be back the following week and, in an eternally optimistic fashion, I will have lots to report

    • Sorry your plans were foiled by the move and job search. I find that I need a week to get back to normal after a weekend trip, and I’d imagine it takes even longer to get settled after a move. It sounds like you’re giving yourself a lot of grace. Being overwhelmed by events is a legitimate thing. I hope DSHI turns out to be the break you need. And fingers crossed for the job interview! We’re all rooting for you!

  8. Last week’s goal: 2000 more words, on either piece; some phonetic transcription and reading for another project; work out some “office hours” to stick to.

    Accomplished: about 500 words, plus the phonetic transcription.

    Analysis: whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make ambitious. I was travelling for part of this week (still away today), and though I tried to make sure I did some work every day including on driving days, there were many other things to take care of. And to be completely honest, on one day when I could have been writing I went and had a pedicure because I had been promising myself one since a couple of weeks before the end of the semester and it just hadn’t happened yet. But the phonetic transcription is actually a fairly big chunk of work and will pay off in spades down the road.

    This week’s goal: more travel coming up, but it involves an airplane and I am often crazy productive on planes, so let’s say . . . 1500 words.

    Keeping track: I like JaneB’s idea of a document tracking each project’s progress, which I may try out, but because I tend to lose track of things like document names, I mainly use a paper research journal where I record number of words written, things to do next, and file names. It doesn’t matter how “transparent” a name is, I’ll manage to forget it. “Knight’s Tale Violence” or “Violence in the Knight’s Tale”? I’ll be convinced it’s one when it’s the other, and look in the wrong part of the file folder (I also get lots of different versions, so I date them, which helps a lot unless I get dyslexic and either read the date wrong or enter it wrong). And then sometimes it turns out the file will be something like “Arcite Fights Palamon” instead of starting with either K or V. If I ever lose the research journal, I’ll really be in bad shape.

    • I hvae the same problem with file names, and your system seems helpful. I have a paper journal for notes, but I haven’t kept those kinds of notes.

      That’s awesome that you are productive on planes. I am not. They make me nervous, so I distract myself with stupid movies and easy novels.

      • I can’t work well on a plane, but oh I can read the heck out of a good novel. I reserve flying time for fiction breaks when I can.

      • The combination of anxiety and boredom that I feel when flying is terrible for reading novels; I just can’t relax and get into the story. But I can concentrate fiercely on work. It’s similar to how I work in coffee shops, concentrating to shut out the noise, whereas at home I never work with music or TV on. Trains are terrible for work, for me, because I want to look out the window, but there’s nothing very interesting at 30,000 feet.

    • I find creating folders based on one project, with various files within them, to be really useful. When one gets too many files, however… Ah, bother. Perhaps a physical journal with a short (one sentence) description of individual files?

  9. Last week’s goal — finish reviewing the related literature.

    Accomplished — not much other than locating a copy of new book. All of my good work habits and planning fell apart in a grand way. The holiday, changes in spouse’s schedule, some unplanned family stuff including a trip to the dentist, payday etc., etc. Oy.

    Crash and burn. Time to re-group. It is a new week. I hope it’s a little calmer.

    So for this week the goal is the same — finish reviewing the related literature.

    Like Dame Eleanor I use a research journal. In my case, it’s both electronic and paper. I use All My Journals software to write up what I’ve accomplished at the end of the day and what remains to be done. The paper journal supplements that though I use it more when I’m away from the computer. I had not thought about using the research journal to track file names. I like that idea and may adopt that practice since I’m bad about losing track of file names.

    • Transition times are tricky for maintaining habits, aren’t they? I always forget how much other family members’ schedule changes affect my work. I hope this week is one in which you can settle back into a good rhythm.

  10. Last week’s goal: Try not to be embarrassed with superivisors, read and write a lot.

    Achieved: I did a better job on this visit of being relaxed, I think. This is my fifth visit to the UK and to my university in the past 4 1/2 years, and maybe I’m finally coming to terms with my ignorance and my status as an American. I worry less now about people thinking I’m stupid for various reasons. Perhaps the reasons is that, over the past several years, I’ve realized that British people aren’t all as classy as we Americans tend to think they are. They are, like us, a mixed group. I have also read quite a bit and done tons of article searches on the database. I haven’t really done any writing, but I might try to squeeze some in tomorrow since I’ve got so many ideas, and I don’t want them to all go away.

    Analysis: I have had TONS of time this week, and I feel as if I should have gotten even more work done, especially writing, but since I would work much of the day or have supervisory meetings, by the time the late evening rolled around, I just wanted to chill. Also, like Amstr after her trip for supervisory meetings, I find myself feeling entitled to relax with my laurel wreath.

    Plus, I’m feeling pulled in several directions. I know, in a general sense what I need to do for Chapter 2 and for my article revision, and these ideas all require shifting methodology and context in ways that will be interesting but a bit challenging, especially in terms of structure changes. But I’m also have a lot of ideas for Chapter 5 that I don’t want to lose, so I’m not sure which way to turn. I’m thinking that maybe I will keep working on developing Chapter 2 since it’s still really fresh and my supervisor and I spent quite a bit of time discussing it, and I will just make relevant notes about Chapter 5 in a separate document, whether or they are organized in any linear fashion. Then, after Chapter 2 is better developed, I will move on to the article.

    This week’s goal: Well. I hope to do a bit more reading and writing tomorrow and Tuesday. Let’s say 50 more pages of primary source reading, 500 words of writing for Chapter 2, and some notes and quotes for Chapter 5. After I get home Tuesday evening, the week will be a wash. I’ll be reuniting with the family and focusing on the Girl’s b-day, which is Friday. There are also several school events, etc.

    As for keeping track, that’s a real challenge for me. I’m doing my PhD part-time, and I’ve been at the dissertation for four years now. I’ll probably submit in 2.5 years. I’d like for it to be sooner, but that is unlikely. Keeping track of stuff over such a long period of time is kind of nutty. I have stacks of hard-copy articles in a drawer (and all around), electronic articles on my laptop, and more on my iPad. I put most of my notes in Moleskin-type notebook. I put in quotations, ideas, brainstorming, etc. When I fill one up, I start a new one. But I have to say, this probably isn’t the most efficient system. The pen and paper are important for my thought process, but it’s not a very good archive.

    I have recently started using iAnnotate on my iPad, and I am a little bit in love. I’ll have to use it a bit longer to see if it’s true love. If so, I might move my electronic articles all into iAnnotate, and then save them to a Cloud just to be sure I don’t ever lose them. If any of you use iAnnotate, I’d love to get some productivity and organizational tips about how you make it work best for you.

    • Congrats on good advisor meetings! I hope the rest of your travel goes smoothly. And after a successful trip, you can celebrate your homecoming and birthday girl guilt free!

  11. Last Week’s Goal: continue fleshing out the presentation outline for the LM; tackle some of the literature review; work on Week 2 of WYJA

    Accomplished: I not only fleshed out the presentation outline but completed the entire presentation, gave a practice talk in front of my co-authors, and revised it based on their feedback. I have sent the penultimate version to them and am awaiting their final suggestions. In order to complete the presentation I had to tackle some of the lit review. I managed to print out all of the necessary articles, identify the ones that were critical for the presentation and read those. I did not manage to do a lit review memo and there is still a lot of reading and note-taking to do for the actual paper. I also worked on Week 2 of WYJA but did not complete all of the assignments.

    Analysis: This was a good week for writing but not as good for my other responsibilities. I had to pack up my office for a move this week and next week will have to unpack in my new location. This week I got my writing goals met and my office packed but little else. I like the idea of starting my workday with writing but once I start it is hard for me to switch and move onto tasks I find less appealing. In fact if I do switch, it is usually to another writing project. Finding balance continues to be difficult.

    Next Week’s Goal: Finalize the LM presentation based on co-authors’ comments and send it off to the session moderator; finish activities in WYJA using the second presentation paper (P&P) for the activities. Begin Week 3 in WYJA. Edit my section of the findings section of the TS paper (Drafting TS and BE papers have become my goals for 2nd half of summer).

  12. goal: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.

    achieved: not a lot. Meetings with project students, and some stress (and a LOT of corridor-conversations) about possible curricular changes, and the perennial frustration of trying to collate the marks for team-taught modules, yes. Writing and writing-related tasks? Too few. I did begin the first draft of what I have so far for the NextBigPaper, which helped me come up with a sort of structure. Along the way I found a possible flaw in one of the analyses so I will need to do that AGAIN to check (I really do understand why some of the biggest labs just do ‘safe’ work – large scale versions of what has been done before, or the same technique on more and more examples – because sometimes working out stuff for the first time is a huge, time-eating pain!) exchanged emails with DrVisit about a different writing project, DID do the analysis for the paper with last year’s MSc student, and some preliminary analysis for yet ANOTHER paper with some collaborators who have been politely nagging for progress.

    analysis: I need to stop believing that blank diary boxes mean actual free time to work on stuff until it’s actually proper summer (at which point I won’t be here anyway… I do not have time for field work this summer and I don’t want to do it. ::pout::). I also need to stop ‘rewarding myself’ for a long day or a tricky one by playing ‘just a few quick’ rounds of computer games before going to bed, because it just leads to late nights. And assuming that because I feel enthused about getting lots done earlier in the week, I’ll still be in that mood-state when the anticipated day arrives… On the plus side, the latest version of the analyses for the paper with MSc student look coherent and straight forward to write up – much easier than the earlier versions. I hope that’s a good sign!

    goals for next week: rewrite ComplicatedPaper using the comments of those co-authors who replied, and email that draft out to those who DIDN’T reply. Finish drafting the text to go with the analyses I have so far for NextBigPaper, which should cause me to work out exactly what additional analyses I need to do to finish it off. Rough out the latest version of Paper With MSc Student, to see if those analyses actually work. Make notes to go along with the preliminary analyses and send those off to those collaborators. Oh yeah, and prepare for my intensive summer field week of teaching which starts a week tomorrow. We do have TWO holiday days in the UK this week, so maybe I can tackle this lot… or not. The procrastination so far has been pretty thick on the ground.

  13. Last week’s goal: reacquaint myself at some length with the J paper on M; write on Tu and Th. Accomplish 2 ancillary tasks

    Accomplished: well, I’d actually done the “reacquaint myself” thing by the time I wrote it down, or soon after. That went well. None of the rest happened, at all.

    Analysis: the combination of keeping up with the summer class and planing/managing my response to an unwelcome, significant, and unexpected change in departmental policy that will be implemented within the next year (basically, I’ll end up with considerably less curricular freedom, which has been one of the major perks of my job) has taken up all my energy, and gotten me onto a bad schedule sleep schedule, especially in terms of making time for writing, to boot. I think I’ve managed to craft a preliminary response, and am doing my best to ignore the issue for a while. I’ve also done some things that may bode badly for writing/research productivity this summer, most notably take on some writing for pay (but I’ve really wanted/needed another income stream for a while, and, while I’m not feeling insecure about my main job, I am feeling unhappy in/about it). So we’ll see. In the present economic climate, with it so hard to tell whether scholarly writing and research are, for all practical purposes, a hobby for me, or might eventually pay off in a better job, it’s very, very hard to decide what my priorities should be. But I’m still determined to finish the J article this summer, even if I have to shelve/rethink some other things. So,

    Goal for next week: work on J article on Tu, Th, and Sat. mornings. Do *not* let other things, including staying up too late, interfere (or, a related goal: get and stay on better sleep schedule, which I’ve actually been working toward this weekend). Accomplish one ancillary task, probably on Weds, and make progress on the other.

    How I keep track: mostly with notes to myself in the margins of the current draft. I’ve also begun keeping a writing log, but haven’t referred back to it much. I’m not good at all at keeping track of what I have read, or want to read; that’s a mess of computer files, books (w/ or without notes in the margins), Amazon shopping lists, zotero notes, email folders, etc., etc. In short, I need a better system. Heck, I need *a* system.

    • Bummer about the policy changes. That kind of thing can really distract from productive work time.

      I hope the sleep schedule goes well. I need me a better one of those too.

  14. Last week’s goal: firm up the schedule for splitting the work between the diss and the article

    Accomplished: The schedule is firmed up, since I think I need to work by whim, or managed procrastination. However, I was hoping to get more done, and can only point to a general malaise, burn-out, or perhaps what my grandmother would have called laziness.

    Analysis: I am feeling frazzled and as though life is out of control. I have fallen into bad habits at work–not taking breaks, eating lunch at my desk, and generally working well beyond the forty-hour week. I then become exhausted and cranky, exacerbated by sons who are in full vampire mode and want to talk about life plans at midnight.

    Goal for next week: Begin reading WYJA in hopes it will light a fire, although I’d settle for a candle. An hour a day on dissertation or article.

    How I keep track: Like CC above, I need a system. I have weaned myself away from tiny little pieces of paper, including post-its, because of many sad, sad experiences with recycling. losing, or fading notes. I still write things in more than one place because ideas come to me in the oddest places and situations, but I do try to compile them into a cloud server every day. I like the 5 minutes of notes idea, and I think the discussion of paper vs. electronic would be very interesting and helpful.

    • I totally understand the frazzled feeling. I don’t know about you, but when I have my “hard work pushes” followed by the inevitable frazzling out, I just take whatever happens during frazzle time as bonus and try to just let life reset a little…so here’s to a few days (weeks?) of reset-ing and pampering and to future productivity!

  15. Goal: finish Ch. 3 (finally!) and send to advisor.

    Accomplished: Oh, I wish! I did get myself somewhat unstuck by revising the sections right before what I need to write and going back to my primary source.

    Analysis: I need another sign above my desk that says “go back to the text!” It’s another gem from my amazing advisor, and I’d somehow forgotten it. After re-reading the play I’m working with, I found I was trying to approach the next piece of the chapter from the wrong angle. I’d been hoping to force some work time this afternoon so I’d have at least *some* writing to report, but alas. When I was planning for the week I forgot that I was losing three days to end-of-school-year activities for my 1st grader, and losing the weekend to violin and dance recitals (more likely I remembered but misjudged how exhausted touring an amusement park with 10 first graders can be). My husband’s advice for today was just to get prepared so I can hit the ground running tomorrow. Good advice, I think.

    Next goal: yet again, and for real this time, finish The Chapter. (carrot: watching a Sherlock season 2 episode)

    We’re starting our first week of summer schedule with various babysitters and activities, and we don’t tend to handle transitions well. But I’ve enlisted spousal support for a three day push to get the chapter done. I hope to report success next week!

    As far as keeping track goes, I’ve got all my bibliography info and pdfs of articles in BookEnds (for Mac). If I haven’t attached an electronic copy, I try to note whether I’ve got a photocopy in a pile somewhere (they’re stacked on the floor roughly by chapter). I’ve ended up using Scrivener for most of my writing, so when I really dive into a chapter, I make a reading list. Once I’ve read something I add it to an annotated bibliography in the same Scrivener research folder, and then if I take notes on an article/book I add a new page to the folder. Everything’s searchable, so I can usually find what I’m looking for. The annotated bib has been the most helpful for reminding me of what I’ve read (and how much I’ve read).

    For keeping track of what’s next, I often revise an active list of tasks (again, in Scrivener), but I more often use paper lists that I leave on my desk. That works pretty well as long as I’m actually working at my desk, but I often work in various locations (depending on mood, motivation, etc.). I definitely need a better system of what’s next. I’m trying the white board, as you can see above, and it’s been helpful so far. I like the idea of taking the time to write a little note of what I’ve accomplished on the day, and then planning for what’s next. Having a specific item to start with might help me to get started more quickly.

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

    Accomplished:
    TWTh: nada
    F: 45 minutes revising

    Analysis:
    I let disruptions distract me and provide excuses not to work. The prospect of checking in helped me get to work on Friday morning. Thank you, amstr and the group for that! I want to get my self-motivation back, though, so I can work more consistently than one morning per week.

    Disruptions: Fun but exhausting Memorial Day weekend with my husband and son, replacing a dying computer, planning for next week’s birthday and travel, fatigue, worries.

    Next Goal:
    Make writing a priority. Work first thing on MTWThF.

    Next week will be a challenge as I will be preparing for two things that are each capable of eating up all my time if I let them: a 5th birthday party followed closely by a trip to visit assorted family members in two locations, traveling via planes, trains, and automobiles.

    Also, getting used to my beautiful new computer.

    Next Check In (optional):
    I plan to check in next week. Due to the travel plans, I’ll miss the 15-17 June check in, and will be back for 21-23 June.

  17. Goal: 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…

    Achieved: All of week 1 and most of week 2 – kinda stuck at the point of trying to discuss my abstract with someone. My husband is also academic, but so not a medievalist that discussing it with him, while encouraging (‘cos he thinks it sounds interesting), is not particularly, um, structuring. My advisor is currently out of commission, so I’ll have to see if I can arrange coffee with someone this week!

    I have decided to go with two articles, because one of them is not ‘due’ until sometime next year, and I think I’ve got something interesting going in the other one.

    Analysis: Okay, truthfully, I haven’t really sorted my timetable. This is largely due to the fact that, in 2 weeks time, I’m off on holiday (where I intend to do some writing), and beyond that holiday I have NO clue what my employment situation is. I may be tutoring for various Middle English papers, or I may need to find a real job, but at this point, I just don’t know! But I’ve got my marking/writing balance down on paper for the next couple of weeks, and I’ll play it by ear from there.

    Goal for next week: week 3 of WYJA, and at least 60 mins a day working on one of the articles (possibly alternating)

    As far as keeping track of things, I am not very good at it. I find paper is more useful, as I work either on my laptop, my netbook, or my uni computer. I have got dropbox, so I could leave notes for myself there…

  18. Keeping track of what I’ve done/where I am: As another person in STEM, most of my ideas get recorded with my data in my lab notebook. Figures eventually get made and are horribly organized at the moment (but backed up in multiple locations). I think the ideal for me would be organized folders on the computer. I’m just starting to write text about what I’ve done and haven’t thought about organizing it. Thanks for your ideas, JaneB; I like the way you divided it into stages.

    Goal: Communicate outlines and ideas to all collaborators and have a plan for how each party will write their sections moving forward.

    Accomplished: I had a good meeting with the company we’re collaborating with and since they’re on board with the paper structures we’d discussed with our collaborators in Switzerland, the goal was fairly easy to accomplish…so now we just have to wrap up experiments and write!

    Analysis: I am thankful for awesome collaborators!

    Goal for next week: Spend an hour and a half with the thesis (switching gears from outlining these papers since we’re waiting on the rest of the experiments)

  19. Keeping track: I have a file called “parking downhill”– not my invention– for each paper, where I write what I did that day and what I want to do next.

    Old Goals / etc.: Attempted to write every day (except Monday). Did not do that. Worked on the paper only one time, and didn’t make progress except to figure out that I needed to re-run a statistical analysis (though it took a long time to figure that out).

    Analysis: I finally, desperately clambered out of Book 5 of the Fire & Ice sinkhole. The work-10min-play-2min system worked OK, but I only got urgent work done. Now that I have escaped from the book cocaine (and hidden my Kindle) I can start facing my shame– I simply have to stop babying myself. It’s time to do what I have to do. I need to put writing first on my to-dos, before answering email, doing urgent committee work or grading, etc.

    Goal: Work on EOCP every day.

  20. goal: First two sections complete by the end of the week.

    accomplished: Many other things, but not this. I got my two online courses up and running in a new learning management system, met with my grad class, attended a really terrific conference, and wrote and submitted two abstracts, one for a conference and one for a book chapter.

    analysis: This seems like a nice set of accomplishments, but where is the book manuscript in all of this? I am still trying to sort of why I continue to put things between myself and this project, but rather than trying to sort that out, I think I just need to get some work done. Make it a priority.

    The discussion of losing track of where you are reminds me that for me, the best way to keep track is to keep the document open, or keep some notes with me, so I’m thinking about the thing I’m working on periodically throughout the day. Then it remains familiar, and entering into it is not nearly as daunting. Of course I haven’t been doing this with the manuscript chapter, but I will now.

    next goal: Once again, I’d like to have those first two sections of chapter 1 complete by the end of the week.

  21. Sorry about the late check in! I have been trying to adjust my life to this recent chronic illness thing, and lost 3 days this week to pain. But it was still a semi-productive week.

    As for keeping track, I try to adopt the system of my STEM buddies and use a lab notebook where I track what I did and what I have to do still. I find this really helpful when I’m trying to pick up with data analysis because I often forget what I already did to transform variables, etc.

    Accomplished: All of last week’s goals, even though it involved a little delegation.

    Goal for this week: Write Results of MS#2. Edit section 2 of MS#1

    Analysis: No analysis for me this week, I’m emerging from my pain coma.

    Next check in: This weekend 🙂

  22. Goal: read for 30 minutes each day; make a clear week by week plan for my time there and of my daily routine

    Accomplished: All goals met. Sorry to check in so late – I hadn’t realized how late in the week it was.

    Analysis: I am now settled in Southeast Asia for my summer of both fieldwork and writing. The last week was mainly consumed with working out a pattern to the day – when to write, when to be out fieldworking, when and what to eat. I think I now have a good routine for the month ahead and I was able to accomplish my modest goals for the week.
    My main goal for the summer is to get the sample chapter written so I can send out my book proposal. I realize that I am really afraid to begin writing – all my ideas seem too simple, too boring, too already done. I just need to start, reassuring myself that what is old hat to me will be new and fresh to others.

    Goal for the coming week: Write 5 pages before Sunday evening. Write each day, first thing, for three hours before leaving to do fieldwork.
    With fieldwork, keep calling people until you find someone willing to let you shadow them.

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