Mid-summer Assessment (Summer Writing Group, Week 8)

We’re halfway! And so it seems an appropriate time to take a look back at what we’ve accomplished so far this summer and what we still have left to do. You might find you’ve done more than you thought you would. If so, have a little party! Or you might be right on track. Again, some sort of celebration is in order. You might be behind where you wanted to be. Reward yourself for what you have done this summer.

And then its time for all of us to get real about what the rest of the summer holds. Are your current goals realistic? Optimistic? Too optimistic? Defeating? What do you need to get done this summer, and what can you postpone if you won’t have the time to finish?

Give us the rundown–what have you accomplished? What’s your updated summer goal? Will you need to make any changes in your work patterns to be able to meet your goal?

Check in by noon Monday: 1) Goals, 2) Accomplished, 3) Analysis, 4) Goals for next week, 5) optional Next check in date, if you’ll miss a week or two or three.

Here’s what you wanted to do this week:

Amstr [complete dissertation]: 1) tackle 2 pages of Ch. 3 revisions, 2) finish Ch. 2 draft.
[journal article]: read at least 2 more papers this week.
Contingent Cassandra
[full draft of J by 7/21; progress on P project]: finish freelance piece and grading, TAKE BREAK for at least a week, maybe 10 days. Reacquaint myself with J project (probably on July 7); begin planning/replanning rest of summer (or maybe that will be the following week). (next check-in 7/6)
[finish thesis]: ? Go talk at next conference, and finish the paper.
[finish and submit MMP and article]: Sort out the problematic discussion; finish the rough draft; start grooming the draft.
Elizabeth Anne Mitchell
[progress on diss or article]: An hour four days a week.
[2 articles submitted; work on 1 of 2 articles]: Work on EOCP once during week.
[draft of new chapter; edit article]: finish the primary source novel. (next check in: 7/13)
[complete book MS]: mark up the preliminary material and have an idea of the major sections for Chapter 2.
[chip away at writing backlog]: SOME activity on ANY ONE of the following: first draft of the MSc paper, do an R&R, get a first draft of the NextBigPaper out to collaborators, do a re-rewrite of the intro to ComplicatedPaper based on the comments from co-authors that have come in along with a final polish and submit, write a plan for the next chunk of fieldwork. (next check-in possibly 7/13)
[submit article; materials/methods + research sections of thesis]: Get at least half of my pieces of data made into figures (with legends). Start writing results.
[rough draft of journal article]:  read the last set of articles.
[finish and submit journal article; start next article]: 1 hour on Tuesday, Thursday. 1/2 hour on Friday.
[2 of 4: paper, 3 presentations]: reflecting my presentation; making a working plan of July- November.
[revise 2 papers for publication]: 1). Continue to work on revisions on the article. I must have this submitted no later than July 14 (personal goal). 2). Trek to the archives to resolve the problem with article #2.
[R&R MS; submit MS#2; outline review article]: ??
rented life
[2 solid book chapters]: write 1 page, read 1 chapter and apply for 1 job
[complete diss; decide scope of new idea]: write at least 400 words a day. Can be blog posts, notes, or actual revisions on the diss.
[P&P and LM papers ready for conference mid-summer; drafting TS and BE papers]: Continue to work on rough draft of findings; read for at least one of my 5 writing projects.
Trapped in Canadia
[2 diss. chapters; 1 turned into edited book ch.]: ? Finish the annoying book review. Complete Week 1 of WYJA.


49 thoughts on “Mid-summer Assessment (Summer Writing Group, Week 8)

  1. How am I the first to comment?

    Goals for last week: write at least 400 words a day. Can be blog posts, notes, or actual revisions on the diss.

    Achieved: 400 words a day, but only for 3 days.

    Analysis: well, I’ve pinpointed that my allergies are directly correlated to time spent in old libraries looking at old books. Since my current research trip/seminar is all about old books in old libraries, this has proven rather debilitating. If I spent 1-2 hours in the Duke Humphrey’s Library, I immediately began paying for it and was pretty much out of commission for 36 hours afterward (I’ve begun measuring the level of my allergies in number of boxes of kleenex used in a 24 hour period; I had at least one 3-box-day this week, despite using a combination of five different allergy drugs to try and combat the symptoms). Other libraries weren’t quite so bad, but never good. It’s hard to get work done when you dread the effects of it as much as I am beginning to.

    Next week’s goal: avoid the libraries, revise/proofread at least one chapter of the diss.

    • Most unfortunate, but it suggests dust and mold as the culprits, so it might be worth looking into allergy shots when you get home. It’s a real handicap for an early-modernist to be allergic to old libraries! I keep wondering how long my eyes will hold out for manuscript work, and wishing I had started down this path when I was younger.

      • DEH–it is most assuredly dust and mold (and the latter seems pretty ubiquitous in England, not just the libraries, so that’s probably part of why the reactions are so long lasting). I’m definitely planning on seeing my allergist when I get home. Just wish I had thought about it BEFORE making this trip.

      • Oh, dear! I’m sure you’ve thought of it, but would a mask help (at least while *in* the library)?

  2. I’m definitely behind where I wanted to be this summer, but I’m optimistic about the rest of the summer. I had hoped to complete my introduction and two chapters by this point, and I’m only a week or two off from my initial timeline. My plan is to keep the same goal–dissertation draft complete by Aug. 24. I’ll need to finish up this second chapter and try to get out full drafts of the last two chapters by then. I’ll have lots of revision work to do in the fall, and I’m slowly coming around to the idea that defending in October might be too optimistic. The last possible time I can defend is early January, so I do have some flexibility.

    To get this done, I think I’m going to need to do a better job at parking on a downhill slope, freewriting myself out of fear, going on walks to sort through ideas, and working two evenings a week, even if it’s just for an hour each time.

    Goals: 1) tackle 2 pages of Ch. 3 revisions, 2) finish Ch. 2 draft.

    Accomplished: 1) got through 11 pages, 2) I’m about halfway.

    Analysis: The Ch. 3 revisions went pretty quickly, and I’m compiling a list of bigger things to fix. I’m planning to keep up the pace on this one and work to get the revision out to my secondary advisor by the end of the month.

    I knew going into the week that finishing the draft might be impossible. I spent too much time stuck on it, but in the past couple days I’ve gotten into a good rhythm. Most of it is just cutting and pasting, but I’m working to contextualize better and tie everything clearly to my thesis.

    Goals for next week: 1) 15 pages of Ch. 3 revisions, 2) finish Ch. 2 draft, 3) re-read article version of Ch. 1, outline, make a list of things to research, 4) use work time to work, and work 2 evenings.

    • It sounds like you’re making good progress, and are likely to gather momentum (picking up on the downhill-slope metaphor) as the summer goes on. I’m impressed by how much you’re getting done, and how many different pieces you’re managing to juggle, but I think there is a point in the diss-writing process where that begins to happen (but only after a lot of initial struggle on groundwork, which it sounds like you’ve done; I still don’t think my advisors’ expectation that I could write a chapter in a month was realistic *at the time they proposed it*, but there’s a point where it can be done). It’s a bit of a blur looking back, but I’m pretty sure I got an awful lot done in the last few months, and even the last week, of writing my own diss (somewhat to the detriment of my teaching that semester, but it needed to happen). I’m not sure I’d want to repeat the experience (well, maybe for a book, but not frequently), and one does need to rest (without entirely losing momentum) afterward, but it can be done.

      • I’m helped by the fact that I have early drafts of all the main chapters–two in article form, one in a really bad second draft–and I was able to cobble together an intro this spring. I found myself wishing this weekend that I could take a month or two off from my regular life to immerse myself in finishing the diss., but two small children and an employed husband make that an impossible prospect. I am thankful for the sacrifices my family is making so I can get this done–especially this summer.

        Thanks for the encouragement that it *can* be done.

  3. Last week’s goal: Get at least half of my pieces of data made into figures (with legends). Start writing results

    Accomplished: Only got about 1/3 of the figures made with legends. I was in the mood to write words more than play with figures (which is unusual for me) so I got a lot more done with writing the results than I anticipated. I also took some time to make some bullet points about things I needed to mention in both the intros and discussions of both of my papers. I might get more done today, but I needed a break so I’m checking in.

    Analysis: I’m feeling pretty good about the writing I got done, and I have a good sense for what I want the figures to look like even though I didn’t quite meet my goal there. I am OK with shifting goals around a little as long as the end result is productivity.

    Goals for next week: 2/3 of Figures + captions. More work on the results.

    I’d like to have a chunk of figures + captions + results to hand to the advisers at the beginning of next week (which means prioritizing which figures/captions/results to work on).

    Wow! Half-way done with the summer? I think that the biggest sense of accomplishment comes from having good outlines of both of my papers. Just knowing where each is headed, where the experimental gaps are, etc. is extremely helpful in tackling them. The scary part is that experiments are still not finished and thus writing is moving much slower than expected (not to mention goals getting re-arranged with news of the competitor).

    Revised summer goal: Have a really good draft of the paper for the main project (the one w/ a competitor) and have the figures and results done for the paper on my side project.

    Also, thanks for you support and reminders to take care of myself at last week’s check-in. You’ll be pleased to know that the yoga mat has emerged for breaks today. 🙂

    • Yay, indeed, for the yoga mat! I need to reacquaint myself with my apartment complex’s swimming pool, which has been open for over a month. Walking and weights also need to re-enter the picture.

  4. Last goal: Sort out the problematic discussion; finish the rough draft; start grooming the draft.

    Achieved: all of the above. The draft is finished, including another section where I found an [expand] note to myself, and I have begun work on turning semi- coherent notes-to-self into proper footnotes. I also wrote 1000 words on yet a third project in a fit of productive procrastination (i.e., feeling fed up with everything I was supposed to be working on), and am thinking of that as a gift to my future self when I get round to that project. Further, I have an idea for another essay that has to go on the list of things to do at some later date. Lack of ideas is NOT my problem.

    Analysis: Though I’m running a little behind my hoped-for schedule, I’m doing well. Having a simplified life here helps such a lot, not just with work but also with identifying problems with getting things done. When I’ve slept poorly or don’t feel well, it’s clear to what degree that is a problem, and also clearer to me how at home those physical problems interact with other distractions so that everything gets to feel overwhelming. I’m not going to be able to change my whole life when I get back, but at least for awhile I may have more insight into what to do about some stuff. Also, thanks to Academic Jungle and links there to Nicoleandmaggie, I re-read this essay by Virginia Valian (http://maxweber.hunter.cuny.edu/psych/faculty/valian/docs/1985solvingAWorkProb.pdf), which I have found helpful before, and this time, I was really struck by this sentence: “The simple responsibility of consistently considering my work to be valuable and worth two hours a day was an almost intolerable burden.” What, me, irresponsible? Well . . . yes, I resemble this remark.

    Next goal: This is a short week because of a field trip Wednesday and a personal trip that begins Thursday, and teaching obligations that are piling up. Still, I have at least 3 days in which I can put in 2 hours or more. Goal: polished draft with notes and formatted to journal style, printed out for final proofreading before submission.

    Summer progress [finish and submit MMP and article]: Things are going quite well. I had hoped that I would get to the MMP this week, but even if I don’t, getting the companion-piece this close to done is good progress. Another thing I will try to do this week is plan the rest of the summer, with research tasks for each working day (taking into account other obligations and the inevitable jet-lag and re-entry effects when I go home), and see what has to happen in order to get the MMP done. I want to be sure that I do have some time at home that is real time off, to work on household projects and just relax, before the fall term starts. Probably what this will mean is working even harder for the next three weeks. I’ve really enjoyed the leisured pace so far, but if in addition to research I can get the fall’s classes planned out, that will be a great gift to that future self.

    • Thanks for the Valian link! That looks interesting, and helpful. I also found the 7/8 post over at your blog helpful, and will probably get around to joining the mulling over there, too. The question of how introverts navigate various sorts of academic positions is an interesting one.

    • Another thanks for the link– it’s wonderfully apt and helpful to read. It’s a very good reminder to not let the seemingly important committee work, guidance of students etc. shunt out the writing. I was also glad to see that the author did manage to find a good job and have a distinguished writing life after all! (after googling her name!) A true success story– lived up to her last sentences of the 1977 piece.

  5. goal: get reacquainted with chapter 2

    accomplished: organizing, revising, having an idea

    analysis: I finally feel like I’m working on a manuscript rather than preparing a writing sample. The beginning of the week was productive but I’ve had to focus on teaching the past few days.

    next goal: I’d like to have chapter 2 fully organized, which will be a 2-week goal to accommodate travel and vacation. I also need to get reacquainted with the yoga mat!

    I had no idea summer was half over. My summer is indeed at a transition point, as I’m finishing grading for summer classes this week then going to spend a week with family. I’m grateful to those of you who have written about trying to manage research/writing with vacation time as I have some frame for thinking about it. There will be airplane reading, and then I hope to be able to carve out time every day for an hour or so of work, since it’s a very low key trip. When I get back, I will look at the rest of summer and tweaking my goals.

  6. 1. Goal: Write an hour a day four times a week.

    2. Accomplished: I hit the time mark, but I was writing longhand, so I did not accomplish as much as I would have liked.

    3. Analysis: Elder son started college courses this past week, so he has somewhat taken over the sole computer in the house in the evening. Since this is the child who hated school, refused to do homework, and left the minute he turned 18, I am ecstatic that he is taking these courses so seriously, and would not dream of getting in his way.

    That said, I miss the convenience of technology; the leisurely pace of writing longhand has its benefits, but I still find it frustrating when the words come faster than I can write.

    4. Next week’s goal: Writing an hour and a half a day four times a week. Assess and tweak goals for the rest of the summer.

    Although I haven’t gotten as much done as I had hoped, I am thinking a lot about what I need to do in the short-term and the the long-term. I am thinking of a change in direction for the long-term, which will impact how I tweak the goals for the rest of the summer.

    • Hurrah for elder son (even if he is hogging the computer)! If the situation persists, might a netbook be in your budget? You need to watch keyboard size (the very early ones were much too cramped), but my now four- or five-year-old one has served me well, and would be cheap to duplicate, I’m pretty sure.

  7. Hello, all,

    Goal: reflecting my presentation: making a working plan for July-November.

    Accomplished: I was wrong in that I thought I would have finished my presentation by this week’s entry, but I was wrong. My presentation is the day after tommorrow, so my reflection -post will be this weekend.
    What I have done this week is that I have written up my paper, and practiced to read it. (I am no good at presentation, so).

    Analysis: I have been very busy, but my paper is done (I don’t mean it is good quality). That is, if I think I have no time, but it gets don

    Next goal: the same as this week: reflecting my presentation, making a working plan for this July ~ November.

    So I am going to reconsider my plan for this summer, but my entry about this will be in my next entry.

    • Sounds like good progress. The advantage of being a bit over-ambitious in one’s goals for finishing a presentation is that you have a bit of leeway when things don’t go exactly according to plan.

  8. Goal:
    1 hour on Tuesday, Thursday. 1/2 hour on Friday.

    Monday: 1/2 hour revising
    I was OBE, mostly due to a sick child.
    Next Goal:
    I need to do some mid-term assessment Monday; I can’t post much about that now. I definitely need to change work (procrastination) patterns.
    1/2 Monday; 1 hour Wednesday, Thursday, Friday.

  9. Goal: Read last set of articles

    Accomplished: Read all but one.

    Analysis: Morning sickness definitely got worse this week. Gag. I have just one more article left to read, and I am continuing to find relevant insights from other research to help me frame my article, which is good.

    Next Goal: Read one article, write-out my argument(s) and evidence as WYJA Week 3 suggests, in light of all the reading I’ve done over the last month or so.

    Mid-Summer Analysis: I am definitely behind, but have managed to make small progress most weeks, so that’s something. I’ll think this week about how I need to change my goal for August.

  10. Goal: 1). Continue to work on revisions on the article. I must have this submitted no later than July 14 (personal goal). 2). Trek to the archives to resolve the problem with article #2.

    Accomplished: Both though I doubt I’ll be ready to submit the article by July 14. I still need to work out some rough spots.

    Analysis: The holiday in the middle of the week messed with plans as well as the ongoing remodeling. However, over the weekend, I made significant progress on my part of the remodeling project.

    Next goal: 1). Finish revisions on article #1. I plan to set this article aside for a week or so before reviewing and submitting. 2). Work on structure of article #2 (this may be too ambitious, but we’ll see).

    Mid-summer analysis: This has definitely been the summer of too many projects, professionally and personally. I cannot believe that July is already here and that August and the start of the fall semester is just a few weeks away. I’ve definitely not accomplished everything I had hoped to by this point in the summer. I think I was over confident both in my ability and my time to accomplish the massive list I wrote at the beginning of the summer.

    That said the one thing I think I have accomplished is establishing a daily schedule of writing and writing-related tasks. I plan to keep that momentum going in the fall. Having a master list of all summer projects — teaching, writing and research, and personal — has help, too. Each Sunday evening I spend a few minutes reviewing the list and my progress and deciding what I need to work on that week. That has helped me maintain focus not only on the writing, but has also helped me make progress on the personal stuff, too, which tends to get lost when the work load goes up.

    • Establishing a daily writing habit is no small feat! I always find that the summer looks so wide open at the start, but it has its own rhythms and interruptions that make the time fill quickly.

    • I’m doing some similar juggling (with the added complication of summer teaching thrown in), and am finding some of the same techniques (especially a to-do list and scheduled daily and weekly reviews) helpful. I agree that trying to set up some patterns that can continue into the fall is a good idea; especially if I tackle fall prep bit by bit in August, I find that I sometimes actually have more time in early September than I anticipate (though that can get eaten up easily, too).

  11. Well, OBE was definitely the appropriate prompt for last week, and this one too by the looks of it! Lots going on.

    Goal: Conference and paper to supervisor.
    Accomplished: Conference was a huge success, my talk got fantastic feedback from lots of people, and I definitely feel like the subject matter is well presented for the paper. New figures for paper are great. Done? Not yet, but sooo close…

    Analysis: Supervisor and I had a discussion and she suggested maybe this two week stretch with a huge conference, travel and house selling is not the best time to discuss progress or to finalize a paper. I think she’s right, so we’ve decided on a week’s moratorium on any further discussion. Her point was that she really wouldn’t want to talk about work while selling a house and traveling to find a new one and getting mortgages and such sorted. The voice of experience!

    This week: Keep writing little bits as much as possible – aim for 2 hours every day this week. No big goal about what will be finished, but if I can write 2 hours every day I’ll be happy and I want to focus on things that can be done in short bursts like the more editorial type stuff.

    So this week I’m off to new job city to look for a place to live (eeek) and meet my new office and get settled there. While hoping to the house fairies that they send a buyer for the current one…

    Summer so far? Well, I feel like I’m ridiculously behind on the original “Finish Thesis” goal, but when I look at individual components I’m only mildly behind. And there have been a number of reorganizing or rethinking episodes which make the final product better, so a little slower is probably not the end of the world.
    I’m going to keep the original goal as a reminder, but with a little bit of leeway given recent events. Which are all great, but they are really sucking time at an alarming rate!
    So for now, back to paper!

    • Congratulations on the successful conference presentation! And your supervisor sounds like a wise woman — the voice of experience, indeed. The good thing about being generally engaged with your project (in a positive, productive way) is that it *does* percolate during those times when you can’t make as substantial progress as you’d like. Even checking in here (and thus having to think about projects and progress) helps, I find.

    • I hope the househunting goes well, and that your new office fits just right. Giving yourself a bit of a break during this week of transitioning, especially, seems a good move.

  12. Goal: Continue to work on rough draft of findings; read for at least one of my 5 writing projects.

    Accomplished: I did work on the rough draft of findings for the TS paper. It is now less rough in some ways and more rough in others. I have started reading (and note-taking/memo-writing) for one of the 5 writing projects. I also did some additional analysis on the BE paper; drafted out methods for the TS paper and added bullet points for all of the discussion points I want to include in that paper. I also have a very rough draft/sketch of the LM paper (which is the one where I am finally doing the reading).

    Analysis: While it is good that I am finally reading (productively), I did pick to read for the paper that is not one of my two priorities for the summer. But it is working, so I’m going with it. Hopefully it will spur me to read some for the other papers. The TS paper is descriptive but I want the analysis to go deeper. I found a way, by re-arranging how the findings are presented, to get a little deeper, so now I have to go back to the data for a little bit. It is definitely progress but also creates more work.

    Next Week’s Goals: Continue reading for LM paper, go back to the data for the TS paper so I can continue with findings section; write analysis memo for BE paper.

    Half-Way Analysis: It actually feels like it is more than half-way for me. I think that is because I feel like I have to start focusing on the classroom at the end of July/beginning of August and while I will still be writing, I won’t have as much time as I do now (especially since I’ll be doing a lot of grading for my online class the second half of July). So I feel like this is my last good week of writing time (I know that’s not really true but it feels that way right now). I definitely met my goals for the first half of the summer. I prepared and delivered my two conference presentations. And I have even taken one of them (LM paper) further along towards publication. My co-authors are itching for me to finish the other paper (P&P) as it is the closest towards being ready to submit. I’d love to fit that in this summer but I’m not sure I’ll be able to. My goal for the second half was to draft out the TS and BE papers. I am definitely well on the way with completing at least a rough draft of the TS by the end of the summer but at this point I’ll be happy to have the analysis completed on the BE. All-in-all, of my 5 writing projects, it seems like I will have significantly advanced 4 of them by the end of the summer but may not actually have any one submitted. That will have to be a fall goal.

    • 5 writing projects *and* co-authors to juggle? That sounds like a lot. It also sounds like your summer is the mirror image of mine: the “real” summer started more or less on time, but ends early, thanks to summer teaching and fall prep. You know what works best for you, but, just reading your description, I wonder whether it wouldn’t be satisfying for you (as well as your co-authors) to get one project done, even if it means not getting as far on drafting another as you’d hoped. Or is it important to have them all drafted over the summer, since that’s most possible *during* the summer, while the school year is a better time for revising?

  13. Goal: write 1 page, read 1 chapter and apply for 1 job

    Accomplished: job applied for, wrote 1 page.

    Analysis: Job application took longer than I anticipated, eating up the better part of a morning. And I’m really good at making excuses to not read my stuff. Analysis for the summer? Well I moved across the state, will be moving again at the end of this week (Finally smoke free!!) and the whole moving thing has eaten up more time that I guess. So I’m not as close to my summer goal as I had hoped. I started using white board to track things and that seemed to help this last week so I am going to keep up with that. I also think I need to set small daily goals instead of just weekly ones. I do better with schedules, but am not good at self-imposed schedules–so I want to work on that.

    New goal: Write for 10 minutes (min) on Mon-Thur. [Weekend is moving and painting.] Research 2 job posting to decide on applying.

    • Hope the move goes well (and don’t bury the whiteboard if it’s working). Writing applications *does* take time; it’s one of the reasons I doubt that the advice to just apply anywhere one thinks one might be remotely qualified (which I, at least, was still receiving a decade or so ago, though I think people may have gotten more realistic since then) is good. It sounds like you’re working with geographic limitations as well, which can actually help in being selective, and so spending your time wisely.

      And moving takes an awful lot of time and energy, too (another reason I doubt some of the advice I got as a grad student, which seemed to assume that taking pretty much any job and “writing your way out of it,” even if that meant bouncing around the country for years, was a realistic possibility).

      But it sounds like you’re settled, and selective in your applications, so hopefully those time-sucks will diminish as you move on.

      • My biggest concern with the whiteboard is it accidently gett erased. My husband keeps trying to move it so it’s “more visible” but he picks areas where the cats will brush right up on it and erase it. And cats, well they don’t care about my progress….maybe if I write “Give cats treats” on my list they won’t bother it. haha.

        I’m ready to get settled into the smoke free place, it will help immensely. For job stuff…well I’m struggling. Part of me is very concerned about finances and finding something, anything right away. The other part of me wants to find something I really like and can still write my book. My husband wants me to take my time searching as well–we can pay our bills (just not get ahead) and he wants me to use this time for myself…but that’s an entirely new concept for me. For 10 years I’ve focused on everything but me so it’s hard to tell myself to not apply for every job that might work. Btw–I do hear “apply for anything your qualified” still.

      • I’ve taken to snapping a photo of my whiteboard on my phone. Then it’s dated, and I can look back at it if it gets erased.

    • I have to do small daily goals, too, or I get into some deep procrastination. I’ve been trying out the “3 things” method, where I list out the three work things I want to accomplish during the day. I think having a limited list is helping me get moving, and making them small enough to check off easily keeps the momentum up. (And I can always do more, if things are going well.)

      My trick for reading is to take the one thing I want to read and go to a coffee shop or bookstore. The change of scenery helps make it not so much of a chore.

      Good luck with the move!

      • I may need to try that…there’s a little cafe nearby (that seemed extremely popular for weekend breakfasts when I drove by last weekend). I like the “3 things” method, I may give that a try. I tend to have long lists that never move!

  14. Goal: Read at least 2 more papers

    Accomplished: Read 4 papers

    Analysis: I continue to be amazed at what setting small goals has done for my productivity. Being able to meet my goals has kept me more positive which has in turn helped me get more done.

    New Goal: Figure out how to explain this last set of results. I will do this by continuing to read at least 2 papers a day.

    Reflection on summer progress: I’ve done okay so far. I still think that my goal is reachable, but I have to keep my head down and get it done. It has helped that some of my other responsibilities have been reduced lately. So my goal for the summer is still to get this manuscript finished. With any luck I’ll actually get this thing off my plate!

    • I, too, find that having reachable goals helps (and it’s amazing how grumpy I can feel when I *didn’t* get something I planned to do done, even if I got something else useful done instead). On the other hand, setting a modest goal and exceeding it, as you did this week, is always cheering. Good luck on finding a model (or approach, or whatever; obviously we’re in different fields, so I don’t understand exactly how reading the papers contributes to the process) which helps make sense of the results.

  15. Squeaking in late here; sorry. The questions are apt, but I’m afraid I’m still in the process of working out answers, partly because my break (which *did* take place, and was helpful, if not as entirely restful as I’d hoped) was followed very quickly by some final work on the P article-in-revision (which I think could now be fairly described as a “almost-in-press.” Hurrah!).

    Part of the problem is that, since I taught a summer term that ended in late June, my “summer,” such as it is, has really just begun (with about a week off). But, being realistic about prep work, there isn’t really that much “free time” ; starting today, I have about 4 July/very early August weeks that are pretty much mine, and then preparation for the fall semester will begin to intrude (and I plan to let it do so fairly early, in part, so that I can try to keep up some sort of ongoing writing rhythm, rather than ignoring it until I have to spend all my time on it). And one of those weeks will be partly devoted to a (P project related) research trip (which actually involves giving a talk, but that will be to a general audience, and pretty informal). I haven’t gotten that much done on the J project, but that isn’t really a surprise (admitting that I don’t really have even half of August to devote to research and writing, though not a surprise, is something I was in a bit of denial about, perhaps as a way of staving off the somewhat discouraged, resentful feeling I get when I realize how little of the summer is truly “mine,” and how much I would like to do with it).

    The other wrinkle is that I added the freelance work, which I still think was a good decision for various reasons (most of them financial/psychological), but has definitely added at least one more ball than I can really handle to my ongoing juggling act.

    So the goal for this week, my first one that involves neither summer teaching nor vacation, is to figure out what I really can accomplish in a day, and a week, and how the rhythm of the day might best go. Establishing that will, I hope, help me establish some realistic goals for the rest of the summer. One thing I’m certain of is that I won’t be finishing the J draft by 7/21, so, to keep that from being discouraging, I’m going to go ahead and revise that:

    overall summer goal: Complete full draft of J article by 8/24. Make progress on P projects. Continue freelance work.

    goal for last two weeks:finish freelance piece and grading, TAKE BREAK for at least a week, maybe 10 days. Reacquaint myself with J project (probably on July 7); begin planning/replanning rest of summer (or maybe that will be the following week).

    <b<accomplished:finished grading and freelance piece. Did take a pretty good break, though I didn’t manage to disconnect quite as fully as I’d hoped for a variety of reasons. I could still use a longer, more complete break (but am probably going to settle for a couple of long weekends and scattered days off instead). Ended up replying to editor’s queries and making final revisions on P article-in-revision rather than reacquainting myself with the J project and planning on July 7 & 8 (not perfect timing, but hardly a disaster; I knew I’d need to spend another day or two on this article sometime this summer, and the flip side is that I’ll soon have an article out).

    analysis:I’ve already done a good deal of that above, so I think I’ll just mention that, going ahead, I think the real challenge is going to be juggling the freelance work, which has definite, fairly close, deadlines, and the longer-term projects, which don’t. There’s also the problem of switching my attention back and forth; I’m really not good at that, and would prefer a life where I was working on just one project at any one time, without too many other priorities to juggle. Then again, that’s a luxury a lot of us would like to have, and few do. I also really have to accomplish some practical things this summer, which may mean ruling out one possible approach: working on one writing project in the morning, and one in the afternoon. Much as I hate to do it, I may have to pare my goals for the summer back even further (and I may need to accept less of the freelance work than might be ideal from some perspectives; fortunately, that, too, is an option). So, for the moment, I’m going to be modest in my goal, especially since the freelance piece for this week actually does have some connections to both ongoing “real” research projects, which means it’s actually worth reading the work in question, and some of the related research, a bit more carefully than I might if the freelance piece were the only goal.

    goal for the coming week (through 7/13):research and write current freelance piece, keeping good track of hours spent and observing work patterns. [re-acquainting myself with the J article is on the docket for Saturday 7/14, which I’ll count as the beginning of week 9].

    Apologies for an entry that is long as well as late, but writing it all out did help, as it always does.

    • I’m glad you got at least some sort of break, even if it wasn’t ideal. It also sounds like you have a good handle on the rest of the summer. Juggling projects is definitely difficult. I hope this week reveals some great way to do it that works well for you.

  16. Just a quick check-in; unfortunately I hardly have the heart to “really” assess my progress so far, since it’s nowhere near where I wanted it to be. I don’t want to allow the rest of my summer (or the last few weeks of it) to follow the same pattern. I think I need a combination of being not-lazy and being more-efficient; currently I am getting better results by putting time limits on the “urgent-but-not-MAJORLY-important” tasks that I’m doing, to try to do a slightly-less-excellent-job on those. Last week my family was struck down by food poisoning, which was majorly not fun but also a reminder that I can’t assume that I really have as much time as I think I have!

    I am working on using a counseling therapist prompt; “What kind of person do you want to be?” “Competent, organized, put-together.” “What would it look like to someone else if you were already that person? What would you be doing right now?”

    For the rest of the summer, my goals are: Finish EOCP, or abandon it if I’m truly stuck, since it’s not as highly required as other goals; write two more article reviews; analyze data from 5 studies (MC:4 and POT: 1) and write up or delegate the writing up of a simple paper based on 4 of those studies. As part of these, do pre-writing for a grant proposal to be written in September.

    This week: I will put finishing-up of EOCP results, analysis of one MC study, and planning of the last MC study on my goals this week; and I will also try to grade two student theses.

    I definitely didn’t meet goals last week. Must just continue to look forward!!!!!

  17. I like the idea of time limits on not-so-important tasks. It’s so easy to let them eat up all my work time. Trying to do things poorly always frees me up to make more progress.

  18. Back again! For six days. But I have writing goals, so I will declare them here.

    goals three weeks ago:SOME activity on ANY ONE of the following: first draft of the MSc paper, do an R&R, get a first draft of the NextBigPaper out to collaborators, do a re-rewrite of the intro to ComplicatedPaper based on the comments from co-authors that have come in along with a final polish and submit, write a plan for the next chunk of fieldwork.

    (next check-in possibly 7/13)

    achieved: none of those things. There are a few notes on the plans for the next bit of fieldwork…

    analysis: I always think I will do more than I can actually do. However, this time, the main problem was that I EXPECTED and PLANNED to be able to not go out in the field every day, intending to have writing time at the field station some days, but this just didn’t work out – partly because I am a wimp who dislikes confrontation. Wheneevr I did have an hour or so when I might have worked, I spent it escaping into a novel or sleeping or playing cards with the rest of the field team – I needed to take care of my mental health, and so that was probably the right thing to do, but oh, so much writing needs doing!

    goals: I am back for five full days. My goals are to complete some refereeing, write research plans for my summer students and for the next piece of fieldwork, and make progress on at least two of the items in the last list

    next check in: I intend to check in this Friday coming but if not it will be 3rd August.

    I’ll assess my progress so far then. Too depressing to think about now, to be honest…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s