Topic of the week: the real schedule.

If you’re like me, you begin the semester with all sorts of good intentions about when you will get up, how much sleep you will get, which slots in the week will get used for grading, writing, exercise, and so on.

Then the schedule totally goes to hell.

Along about now, I figure out what actually works.  No, it will not be possible to get up at 5:00 and go to the gym, but it is possible to get up at 6:00 and go for a walk.  Taking time out to write in the middle of the day not only works but means that the night class doesn’t get me so wired that I can’t sleep afterwards (something about the restorative effect of quiet time reading and writing, I think).  Nonetheless, the day after the night class is just not going to be productive.  Give it up to recovery and errands, and work on the weekends and early in the week, instead.

How about you?  What is the real schedule turning out to be?

The goal list:

alloverthemap: no check-in.
Amstr: 1) draft 6000-10,000 words of chapter, 2) read as necessary, 3) freewrite 3×20 min. (or as often as I’m stuck), 4) finish Ch. 3 revision pass (by Mon.)
Another Postdoc: draft the other sections of this paper.
Bavardess: Proposal – Draft the rest of my historiography section; first draft of my theoretical framework, including definition of terms; Article – complete footnotes/any additional citations for pp.1-5.
cly: finish a grant application and try to extract my teaching dossier from a finicky external hard drive.
Comrade PhysioProf: drink a cup of something that ain’t fucken tea.
Contingent Cassandra: Make progress on P project work, especially overdue correspondence, as possible; Do MLA DH workshop application.
Daisy: dropping out.  We wish you well!
Dame Eleanor Hull: get closer to two hours/day of research; send a draft of the revised proposal to recommenders and to someone else who offered to read it. See if I can move forward with the MMP and translation project, as well.
Dr. Virago: finish this damn editing job so I can get back to the writing!
Elizabeth Anne Mitchell: Finish the other half of the outline.
emmawriting: delay e-mail; Examine LOI template carefully and draft ideas; paper 1: Finish factor analysis writeup; paper 2: Plan/start short-article writing; Push other research forward
Erinys: no check-in.
GEW: 15 min per day, six days for a total of 1.5 hours. (Possible tasks: work on primary source explication in chapter five, review important quotations from from primary or secondary sources and type them into document.)
highly eccentric: skeleton out my paper for ANZAMEMS & identify further research; do same for PhD proposals.
historisusan/professorsusan: start reading all the stuff I identified — that should be about two weeks’ work; keep Tuesday and Friday as research days.
humming42: will check in October 5-6. I hope to have the editing and revising for chapter 2 done by then, along with marking the sections that require new research and writing.
JaneB: 1) get the appendix and figures sorted, circulate the manuscript 2) review the status and make a work-plan for the few-author paper (goal b) 3) sort out travel plans for the paper I’m giving in October
JLiedl: Draft outline for October keynote; write 1000 words.
jmmcswee: (1) Convert my book notes to written work, (2) read 5 more articles for my paper, and begin a solid intro, and (3) Put 500 words (regardless of quality) into my comprehensive.
John Spence: another page of transcription into a ‘first edit’; check out one other possible source to rule it in or out; working on an index for my book (20 pages of book).
Kirstin: no check-in.
kiwi2: Final rewrite of Paper X before sending to a senior co-author this week. Second, to complete a final batch of lab work (2 days) which will complete the “story” I have for Paper Y. And, to SUBMIT the revisions for my most hated paper.
kiwimedievalist: no check-in
Kris: read up on relational autonomy and write notes.
luolin88: 1/2 hour Monday and Friday.
Matilda: continue to read the first part of the main material/ read the starting-point book/ write at least 15 minutes a day
meansomething: 1) 500 words; some necessary research; an hour of experimenting with the form of the lyric essay 2) 4 20-minute sessions on poem sequence.
metheist: no check-in.
Notorious Ph.D.: work at least 90 minutes every day (preferably mornings), in which I a) finish integrating the “found” material with the more recent writing; b) do markup and figure out where I need to make changes; c) skim and take notes on 2 books that just came in.
nwgirl: Revise the newly combined AB/J section, smooth out the transitions, and skim related library book that just came in. To do this, I need to work at least 1 hour/day on teaching days and 3 hours/day on non-teaching days.
Pika: complete draft of part 2.
Pilgrim/Heretic: more of the same. Morning writing, 2,000 words for the week.
Premodern: 45 minutes of writing first thing every day.
rented life: no check-in.
Salimata: decide on a paper by actually reading the two candidates: print them out and take with me on train! also, read/do Argument chapter from Belcher, also on train. 15 minutes a day.
Sapience: write a rough draft of the 10-15 minute presentation I have to give for my defense, try to get at least another 700 words done on the article.
Sisyphus: a) Make a list of small tasks that still need to be done! b) set aside at least 15 minutes every day to chip away at these small tasks! if not c) an actual prose-revising session on any day I can muster the energy!
sophylou: do some writing, any writing, no time limit, just some writing; read over at least one notebook relating to project (airplane time!); if time, go through last two books and track heroine’s consumption.
tracynicholrose: Follow-up memo on BE analysis; 1st draft of internal grant for next study; finish edits on P&P paper.
Trapped in Canadia: review sources for conference paper, write a whopping 400 words for that paper, write two tests for my classes, and finish that annoying book review.
Undine (Not of General Interest): 1500 words on chapter; finish conference paper and begin a reviewing project.
What Now?: 1) finish working through the primary sources, a finish line that is within sight; 2) finish reading a secondary source book that I started last week; and 3) 4 sessions of free-writing, 15 minutes each.
Widgeon: Finish revisions on conference paper. Start organizing files and notes to prepare for work on the chapter.
Z (Mictlantecuhtli/Profacero): place research time in morning rather than evening, or in addition to evening, so that a different kind of project planning can take place. Try working on new things in morning and old in evening, as in book in morning and fiction in evening. See about finding a place to work on fiction (not house or office).

165 thoughts on “Sept-Dec 2012 Writing Group, Week 5 Check-In

  1. Yes, it is probably about time I had a reality check. I keep telling myself that it will be possible to do the impossible (just for a day/week/until I get a proper job). For some peculiar reason, it doesn’t seem to be working out.

    Okay, realistically, I can write for two hours per day. I can get to the gym or pool twice a week. I can cook properly at least twice a week. I can plan classes and meet with students only at certain times (my flexibility should not turn me into a shimmery puddle on my office floor).

    As for goals, hmm, total OBE this week (non-work related OBE). Attempts to fix the external drive resulted in blowing a fuse.

    I’m on draft two of the grant application.

    My goal this week is to get back to my project.

  2. Last week’s goal: another page of transcription into a ‘first edit’; check out one other possible source to rule it in or out; working on an index for my book (20 pages of book).

    Accomplished: about half a page of further transcription; checked the source; indexed only five pages.

    Next week’s goal: Index 20 pages.

    Commentary: Dame Eleanor, your topic is very appropriate for me even though I’m not directly tied to the academic schedule! Other pressures this week have meant I’ve not met my goal for the first time so far. It’s becoming clear that for various reasons, demands on the time I’d like to use to write are going to increase for the rest of the calendar year, and the main goal I set for the writing group is looking very challenging.

    My next step is going to be to take one thing at a time, and focus in on what needs to be done next. That’s the book index until I have a first cut. Then I can get back to the more intriguing work on the edition.

  3. Eh, OBE this week. Nothing even exciting: I was in a (very minor) car accident this week when a pedestrian crossed the street without looking, but it meant that one whole working day was gone with me being in shock, and I’m still in pain from the rapid stop of the car. The young woman was OK, but it’s still hard to see a person fly off the hood of the car. So I’ve had real trouble concentrating. I’ve been kind to myself (and was smart enough to get a massage the day after) but it will just take time. So I’ve done some reading, but not as focused as what I hoped. And we had a guest speaker yesterday. Oh, and papers came in, so I know that what I really should be doing is grading papers, but I really am not excited about that! In the realm of productive procrastination (and as a result of frustration with one of my colleagues) I spent part of this afternoon looking at the demotivators, and I offer this one, which is currently my favorite:

    As for my schedule, it’s hard to say because my schedule has been wrecked by having bathroom renovations for the last month. But I think it’s probably overly optimistic to assume that the two days I don’t have to be on campus can be devoted entirely to research, and I might be better off admitting that now. Things will almost certainly improve when the Center I run actually has a staff person, so I don’t try to run it and be the staff person on my own, but still.

    Goals for next week: keep reading. All the books I ordered on ILL last week came in, so I’ve got enough reading to keep me busy for some time! I’m hoping this weekend to get through the pile of journal on my desk (left over from my “organize my office” drive; and then I’ll try to get through four or five of the essays I have.

    1. I sympathize with how the accident really set you back. Near-tragedy is pretty traumatizing. How long until the bathroom renovation is complete?

    2. I’m sorry about the accident, wow that sounds intense! I’ve done the bathroom reno myself, fun times. Hope this next week moves smoothly for you!

    3. The written lecture seems to be more common in the UK than in the US. I live and teach in the US but my PhD uni is in the UK. The formal lecture seems more common in the UK, with discussion happening at other times. In the US, we seem to mix things together in the classroom, bits of lecture with bits of discussion. This is my perception, but I’m not sure if it’s accurate.

      1. Sorry, this was for kiwimedievalist, but it ended up in the wrong place.

        My sympathies to you professorsusan! When I’ve had a accident, it’s made me very nervous to drive. Sometimes I can’t believe I don’t have an accident every day.

        I hope next week is better!

    4. Sorry about the emotional trauma this week. The good thing is that you are recognizing this and taking action. Good luck this coming week.

  4. I still haven’t written my Specific Aims page of my grant, but I *am* drinking a glass of motherfucken shochu RIGHT THE FUCKE NOW!!!!!!!!!!!

    And I really am gonna write the Specific Aims page on Monday. I SWEAR!!!

  5. Last week’s goal:
    Final rewrite of Paper X before sending to a senior co-author this week. Second, to complete a final batch of lab work (2 days) which will complete the “story” I have for Paper Y. And, to SUBMIT the revisions for my most hated paper.

    My lab work got finished. I submitted the revisions for my most hated paper (I will definitely be celebrating when I get the acceptance email). I didn’t rewrite Paper X though. So, 2 out of 3.

    Next goal:
    1.Final rewrite of Paper X before sending to a senior co-author this week.
    2.Work for at least 2 hours on the analysis for Paper Z. Including emailing for help if I need to.

    This week was busy, but I used my time as best I could. The writing group really helps me to put in that extra bit of effort to try and meet goals before reporting. Thank you to everyone for being such a great group.

    I feel as though I am on target overall, but I am having lack of confidence spasms about sending Paper X away, so I could do a bit of procrastinating on this goal if I’m not determined. I have quite a lot of teaching this week, but it should be possible to achieve my goals.

    As for the real schedule- we are more than halfway through the semester now so it’s not quite the same – I am counting down to the end of teaching (3 more weeks). I’m imagining a fair bit of chaos over the next three weeks, but then hopefully a bit of a breather to focus on other things. I have an ongoing struggle fitting in time for my own activities (exercise especially). But who knows, I am ever an optimist who thinks things will take half the time they do!

    1. Definitely chaos in my area – all the marking for three different papers came in at once! Though, if I mark 12 essays this weekend, then there will only be 2 papers to worry about. Hold out for the end of semester!

  6. Last week’s goals: 1) finish working through the primary sources, a finish line that is within sight; 2) finish reading a secondary source book that I started last week; and 3) 4 sessions of free-writing, 15 minutes each.

    Accomplished: Hmm, I’m going to say about half, maybe a little less, on all three goals. Plus I decided which section of Ch. 1 I’m going to tackle first.

    Next week’s goals: Accomplish the first two goals I didn’t get done this week: 1) finish working through the primary sources; 2) finish reading a secondary source; 3) take a stab at the first section I’m going to tackle.

    I was decidedly OBE this week — not in a bad way but in a yikes-so-much-to-do way. And, along the lines of Dame Eleanor’s comment about the “real schedule,” I’ve done a lot of thinking this week (in between OBE events) about how much energy I do and don’t have and what I want to do with that energy. I’m not yet sure what the answer is, but I do know that I need to be realistic in order to keep a sustainable pace, keep doing my “day job” well, and stay happy.

    1. Getting what you must get done, working on what you want and being happy? That’s a really good set of goals, there!

  7. Last week: Finish revisions on conference paper. Start organizing files and notes to prepare for work on the chapter.
    Accomplished: Started revisions and have not yet tackled organizing.
    Next: Finish revisions of conference paper really and truly. Start going through digital images of primary sources collected in June.
    Commentary: So the whole giving a paper this week took time and emotional energy. And although I was pleased with my presentation (I told a great story) it was clear to me that the “so what” question was most definitely not answered. That piece is going to need a lot of thinking through. I’ve decided that one of my research days will be primary research. First going through the archival material I’ve already collected and then ordering microfilm. I won’t be able to answer “so what” until I know what I have.

    1. That’s one of the great things about being able to do a conference presentation on work-in-progress -it can really help clarify where you are and what else you need to do.

  8. Sorry for being absent last week – OBCF (overcome by computer-failure) on the weekend, followed by forgetting on Monday morning that I could still check-in thanks to time-travel.

    Last week’s unstated goal: Write 2 X 5,000 lectures, and deliver on Monday and Wednesday.

    Achieved: Well, I kinda had to, didn’t I? The Wednesday one was ‘finished’ 5 mins before all the teaching I had to do before the lecture.

    Commentary: Can’t blame students for only looking at the essay questions the week they’re due, when I was writing the lecture at the last available minute. I keep thinking a) that I have more time and b) that I’ll be able to write more in the space of that time. My first lecture went swimmingly, as it was based on saints’ lives and medieval culture. The second lecture, on the Prioress’s Tale, seemed more stretched to me, but I was told it still went well. I also shifted some furniture in my uni office, so that I can look out the window, and that helped with being able to actually work there.

    Question: So how many of you write out the whole lecture, or do you just write outlines? I know I speak much better when going off outlines, but I’m still worried about time-management – hence the writing out in full (and then often going off course).

    Next week: ARGH! MARKING!! I’ve gotten off light this semester, but now it all comes crashing down. So my goal is to work on reading for my book, around the edges of gnawing off my own leg and poking my eye out with spoons. Get out those three books from the library, and use them as bribery to get through X number of essays.

    1. I still have a lot of the lectures that I wrote during my first year on the job. It really helped me to write them all out complete. I referred to them for some years after but now? I don’t use them at all and that’s not because I’ve memorized them but because I’ve moved beyond them. Some topics I approach very differently so the old notes seem less relevant. Another part of that is I’m now more attuned to what I sense they’re getting out of the class. I’ll stop and ask questions or review what we’ve just covered.

      That said, I still love outlines – I distribute PowerPoint files that effectively act as the day’s outline to kill two birds with one stone.

      1. Last Spring I cleared out my file cabinet and got a kick out of some of my older lecture notes. But you’re right about moving beyond them, that’s exactly what happened.

    2. Creating a working space that feels ‘right’ can be a great help. Good luck with that- and the marking! I have tons to do as I write!

    3. I don’t write out full lectures. But I do always have specific in class exercises and discussion prompts written down. I tend to spend time thinking what I want a lecture to be about, not the topic but the themes I want to develop. Once I know that the talking about content is easy.

      The longer I’m in the gig the more confident I am in my ability to offer students something useful without masses of prep.

    4. I write outlines and talk my way through the lecture. Additionally, I write on the board and ask questions of the students to try and gauge where they are with the material. I rarely go over time, but I have found myself vastly under time and needing to fill it with something. Words cannot describe the moment of panic when I realize that I have covered everything I planned and we still have 20 minutes. Usually I try to get a discussion going or do an in class writing assignment to fill the time.

    5. I usually write out full outlines, but that’s mostly because I’m still pretty new to teaching and this semester I’m teaching two classes I’ve not only never taught before, but also that are completely outside of my area of expertise. When I try to write outlines, I start panicking and end up writing a ton of notes on the outlines, rendering them difficult to read, to say the least. I can’t wait until next semester when I can revise and not start from scratch!

      1. Yes, revising is great – as long as you can remember where things needed beefing up! I forgot to make notes the one time I taught the same lectures twice (mostly because I didn’t know I’d ever get to teach that class again) and so missed the opportunity to fix things!

      2. KM, ha! I was pretty close to having that happen to me, but I finally realized that I needed to make notes on my lectures to fix what didn’t work. Luckily I only missed a couple of weeks of classes, so it wasn’t too difficult to go back through them. It was a close call, though!

    6. I’ve just started doing some lecturing this year and am still trying to figure out the best way to go. So far, I’ve done outlines with detailed notes but my timing wasn’t great, so I think next time I’ll try writing out the full lecture. Good luck with the marking – I’m about to experience that particular joy again this week, too.

    7. I write my lectures using an outline. I know how many pages of notes that I can go through for a 50min and a 75min. class. I’m always afraid that if I write it out, I will stand there and read it rather than engage with the students.

  9. Topic: I am clinging to my schedule by the power of sheer determination. I’m sacrificing all the other times there are if I can keep my Tuesdays and Thursdays free for writing and editing. But when the first big chunk of marking comes in next Wednesday, what happens? Can I get the grading done in a timely manner and keep my Tuesdays and Thursdays for writing? Stay tuned!

    Last week’s goal: Outline keynote, write 1000 words (on same).

    Achieved: Outlined keynote, wrote about 350 words.

    Next: 2000 words on the keynote.

    Analysis: I devoted a lot of my writing and editing time this week to editing. Which was valuable and important but very time-consuming. Consequently, my own writing suffered. But I’m at a spot where there’s nothing I have to write or edit between now and and the conference mid-month except for the keynote. There’s grading and there’s one administrative editing task but that’s it. I’m learning to be ruthless this term. It’s the only way I’ll make it through everything!

    1. It sounds like “ruthless” means “having a very clear sense of your priorities and making sure that your actions fit those priorities.” Sounds healthy!

  10. Last week’s goal: 1500 words on chapter; finish conference paper; work on reviewing project.
    Accomplished: finished conference paper and wrote another conference paper (just a panel paper, but still). About 150 words on the chapter, which is not great, but I’ve been in grading hell.
    Next week: Another conference paper to finish; work on reviewing project. It’s all deadlines from here on out, so the chapter may have to wait for a few days.

  11. About the real schedule…
    Much to my surprise, it turns out that it is easier for me to get up at 5am to go running before my kid gets up than to run after dropping him off at kindergarten. I knew this was the case for day care–that’s how I started running so early a couple of years ago–but I thought I’d start a new routine this year. It made sense, given that the walk to the elementary school covers the first part of my normal running route, and I wasn’t starting to write until later in the morning anyway. I didn’t keep it up though, and only managed to get back on track by getting up extra early again.

    As for working, it turns out that no, I can’t get everything done that I want to in the 90 minutes I have between a morning class and my afternoon classes, especially since I need to stop skipping lunch. Aside from the obvious need to nourish my body, eating the lunch will make the 30 minutes I have in the afternoon between finishing teaching and leaving my office to catch the bus more productive.

    Goal: 1/2 hour Monday and Friday

    1/2 hour Monday and Friday.

    Realistic goals worked. This week was up and down and all over the place, so I am glad I have at least met this modest goal. I need some of Dame Eleanor’s Bug Spray to silence the part of me insisting that meeting the goal doesn’t count if the bar is set so low.
    Next week is overscheduled, so I’ll need to work hard to meet the same goal.

    Next Goal:
    1/2 hour Monday and Friday.

    1. Count me amongst the setting-the-bar-low advocates! I think you can build more positive momentum getting just a couple of things done than looking at a long list of things you haven’t done.

  12. Sorry about the no check-in last week. My arm blew up last weekend from am allergy shot and by the time things calmed down (the arm and it’s uselessness, doctor trips, doping on benedryl) and I remembered about writing, etc, the comments were closed. I couldn’t find an e-mail to explain it all. This week my arms are normal sized and the shots have been reduced to less often. If things continue they will add adreneline, which might be fun.

    Last goal: Finish book T, start book D. Write 2 times (minimum) this week–no time limit.

    Accomplished: wrote once, and had a decent editing/expanding session.

    New goal: Write twice, (or contine with part I was expanding), keep reading books T & D.

    analysis: when I’m OBE, reading seems to get dropped first. Unfortunately the personal/family stuff from last year that I was over is definintely not, as I found this week. This has been a huge time suck, as well as just a mental/emotional drain. I have not figured out how to write when I’m drained like that yet. Since the OBE stuff won’t be going away anytime soon, I have been working with my husband to be sure I carve out a little time for myself–reading or writing. But the catch is, I need to stick to that too, taking that time. I haven’t hit a consistent enough schedule yet which has been a bit frustrating.

    Adding to this is the frustration that I’m apparently supposed to be looking for “real” work instead of writing. My family beyond my husband is less than supportive of the writing, and so very happy that I had a job interview (which didn’t go anywhere and I’m fine with that). 😦 I’ve been struggling with wanting to pursue writing and trying to not internalize my family/others who feel that a paycheck and job is much more important. I’ve not been too successful at that as of yet.

      1. Thanks. I might hang that one up so that every time mom or dad asks about jobs/income (it’s not like I’m defaulting on bills, we’re just on a very careful budget. Which is ok) I can just look at your comment.

    1. I’m with kiwi2–life is too short to give up on our dreams. I pushed the writing I wanted to do into the corner for well over a decade. I do not recommend that path to anyone. Damn the torpedoes and go write with joy.

    2. Do what you want with your life. If you and husband are ok, then who cares about the rest? I support my artist/writer husband with my small academic salary. I do what I love, so does he. I can feel the silent judgement of people beyond us, but it really doesn’t matter to me. I am happy when he is happy and v.v.

    3. Dealing with family’s ideas of what you should be doing is hard. My husband just lost his job, and his mother keeps telling him how much he’d love being a high-school teacher – totally unable to see that that’s her dream, not his!

      Good luck with the writing, and keep talk to your husband, not your family, about future!

    4. Thanks guys. I was telling my husband I just feel like there’s this part of me that’s a huge secret. My life was my academic job for years, and I could share that with my family and it felt respectable, but I was never really happy. I love them, and I’ve never had this kind of problem before. You just assume that they’ll support you no matter what. It’s natural for me to want to share things that are going on, but when we’ve reached a point where they’re only happy if I have a full time career–so much so that they started grilling my husband because I wouldn’t talk about my non-job search…well it was just a little much for me. Thanks for your support.

      Elizabeth, your comment really struck me. I don’t want to put this off any longer, for exactly what you said.

  13. Last week’s goal was to read and write about relational autonomy.

    Achieved? Nope.

    Next week’s goal is the same but even more modest: just read one chapter out of the book I have sitting on my desk, unopened.

    Commentary. Right thorugh the year I have been super productive, focused and disciplined. This week, the after effects of jetlag combined with burnout, a mucked up schedule, The knowledge I was about to travel from home again and general ennui meant I got nothing done on my project. It’s disappointing but it’s not the end of the world.

    The real schedule: I never properly factor in the time it takes to mark major essays so I’m looking after weeks of much less writing. I have been doing two hours each working day but I’ll need to be disciplined to do just one. The major schedule issue for me is energy and enthusiasm. Once I’m deep in tesching prep, lecturing and marking, none of which I particularly enjoy, I find it increasing hard to grab the spare time for writing so I’m wasting a lot of time. Hopefully spring and a break from travel will perk me up again.

    1. Kris, we all need vacations, and it sounds as if you haven’t had one. The parts of my job that I enjoy less often take huge blocks of emotional time, which affects the transition from things.

      I think academics set unreasonable goals for ourselves – we forget we’re human, not machines.

      1. I never give enough credit to the “emotional time” that some things need. It’s important to give yourself time and space and kindness to handle transitions and disappointments and such.

      1. I’m actually feeling a lot better after just one day of no work and no family responsibilities. It is easy to forget how re-generating a day of nothing much can be, and I suspect that many people in this writing group rarely have such a day.

        Pilgrim/Heretic I do like the idea of emotional time and it’s something I’ll think a little more about – it’s that element of my work that most commonly throws me off schedule.

  14. Last week’s goal: complete draft of part 2.

    Accomplished: about 3/4ths done.

    Next week: have to finish this over the weekend, to have the rest of the week for polishing and finishing part 1 (out of which 1/3 is a shorter version of part 2), because I will be away on a workshop the week after next and DL is just after I come back.

    What is going on: have been slowly ploughing through things, still managing to deject distractions (thanks to awareness of having to report here and also a bit of DL panic, which is starting to set in). But am in a bit of a grantwriting-rut, in that I know what I want to do in the work, but the words are not flowing. Sort of like this:

    Well, at least academic blogosphere confirms I am not alone in this feeling!

    Back to writing – I think I might try some #madwriting sessions on twitter this week.

  15. Hello, all,

    Goals: read the first half of the main material/ read the starting-point book/ write 15 minutes a day

    Accomplished: only a part. I have been reading the starting- point book, but I have been really slow. I was not able to take 15 minute time to write this week at all. Sad.

    Analysis: I had to mark all papers by the end of this week, and was suddenly asked to do some other administrative work. I have been really busy this week, but as Dame Eleanor has said, I need to face the reality and figure out what really works.

    Next goal: finish reading the first part of the material/ finish reading the starting-point book/ write 15 minutes a day

    As for the real schedule, I have found that I cannot take scheduled working time at midnight if I work long daytime. I set three hours to work at midnight after my kids go to bed, but in reality, I get too tired to concentrate on my study if I have to work longer hours daytime. Things get really difficult if I cannot study at night. I need to reconstruct my whole schedule to squeeze out my own research time during the day.

    1. Working late at night seems like it could be really tough if you are also working during the day *and* have kids to look after! Would early mornings possibly work better? I’m not a morning person by any means, but find that if I have to do it, gettting up extra early works better than trying to say up really late. Hope you can find a balance.

    2. That’s sounds like a tough schedule, a bit like mine and maybe even more intense. Hang in there. I hope the puzzle pieces start to fit.

    3. Thank you for your comments, Bavardess and GEW!
      Morning will be a good option, but I should be more determined to get up early when I know my start of working hours is several hours ahead. I’ll try anyway. Moreover I think perhaps I need to decide what I cannot do and give up, not trying to do everything I want to do.

  16. Old goals: delay e-mail; Examine LOI template carefully and draft ideas; paper 1: Finish factor analysis writeup; paper 2: Plan/start short-article writing; Push other research forward

    Achieved: delay e-mail: OK Monday & Tuesday, not otherwise.Did work on LOI, did finish paper #1 goal, “push other research” goal only very minimally met, paper #2 goal not met.

    Achieved instead: Some “unexpected” service (i.e. not planned for, or used as procrastination), some important correspondence related to grants and research.

    New goals: LOI collaborators identified, summary drafted. Review letter outlined, referees identified. Results of Study 1 (Short Paper) written. One new study started. Another new study prepared. RAs reviewed. Email delayed.

    Analysis: On the days that I didn’t do any email before 11am, RescueTime reports my productivity % was in the 90’s in the morning, and the high percentage also spread into the afternoon! Not so on the other three days, when email spread all through the day and I often didn’t work on my original goals. I think that I was doing research, grant, or service-related things on email–things that were useful– but the actual result was just that my progress towards the really most-important-goals was arrested. I think part of the problem was that my goals need to be more specific and achievable. I tend to write down everything that I wish I could do, and though it makes an OK list for reminding me what I ought to be doing, it is not as action-motivating as specific, achievable goals: I don’t really know when a goal has been achieved, so I don’t know when to stop and, when I stop, exactly what to do next; and I don’t feel a sense of real urgency about the goals (enough to make me stop procrastinating on other things that are useful but really not as important / urgent) since I don’t think that I can actually get them done = they don’t feel super important at that very moment.

    “real schedule:” To be honest, I don’t have much experience with having a “real schedule!” I have made up ideal schedules but they have always backfired: I can’t follow them, and get discouraged and disappointed in myself, which leads to large amounts of procrastination; and something about the structure makes me passive-aggressive rebellious against myself. In the summer part of the writing group, I tried doing “2 hrs per day on X” goals, but they were not very successful. The best week I had in the summer was when I set some specific achievable goals, like I’m trying to do this week; then let the schedule fall as it may. I understand that scheduling is a really great way to get things done, and I hope maybe someday I will develop the ability to follow a schedule, but I think that right now they are just not a good fit for my personality! I’m good at making crisis-driven decisions about what to do, and bad at planning ahead / knowing how much time things will take, and also tend to feel unhelpful guilt (=more procrastination to distract self) as soon as I don’t meet specific scheduling goals– so I think that a list of urgent goals best fits my strengths: At 2:30pm I can have a quiet sense of urgency that I MUST do X instead of email / fun service / whatever, and that decision-at-the-moment is what I do best. Let’s hope this week goes better!

    1. Wow, those are some interesting stats on productivity and avoiding email. I kind of suspect that would be the case but it’s good to have some confirmation.I’m a bit like you when it comes to trying to follow a schedule that is too planned out and strcit.

      1. “makes me passive-aggressive rebellious against myself.” – me too! What a lovely clear way of putting it!

        I am coming to realise that I find detailed schedules very difficult to deal with on less than perfect days – the pressure of having to do X looms over me from way ahead and almost sets me up to fail, and I am NEVER in the mood to do thing X on the day set aside for it… to use the Meyers-Briggs terminology, I’m a perceiver and I’m sure that all these advocates of structure and detailed planning are judgers! I find detailed plans frightening and confining – I need room around the edges for unexpected things to happen, I need the possibility of open slots to keep me going, if that makes sense… It’s much easier to tell someone how to put together a schedule (or indeed to sell things to help you make a schedule) and I guess that a lot of the ‘get things done’ type books are written by people who thrive on structure…

  17. Oh, man. That “real” schedule hit hard this week. I had been pretty consistent about getting up early every morning to work on my non-writing projects (teaching myself Latin, at the moment, so I was trying to do 30-60 minutes of study and translation). Not this week!

    Goals for last week: write a rough draft of the 10-15 minute presentation I have to give for my defense, try to get at least another 700 words done on the article.

    Accomplished: first goal, kinda sorta. Second goal: not at all.

    Analysis: this week was a bit of a disaster. I got had two batches of papers to grade, and I caught a nasty cold that I’m just starting to get over. I did write a draft of the presentation, but it was crap. Today I’m starting over on that project. I didn’t even LOOK at the article project.

    Goal for next week: rewrite presentation. Pass my defense. That’s it.

      1. My goal is the presentation for the defense, so it’s not actually a separate goal from defending. I may do other work, but if I do it will simply be to keep myself from panicking over the defense.

    1. Latin is difficult, but it is suitable to teach yourself, I think. I have been studying Latin for quite a long time, but still I find it very difficult and I think it is important to work on it regularly looking up a grammar book, actually I am trying to do it now. Good luck for your defence!

  18. 1. Last week’s goal: Finish the other half of the outline.

    2. Accomplished: Yes! Of course, I am leaving Monday for the research leave, so I sort of had to, didn’t I?

    3. Analysis: In the way that others have mentioned, this outline became my productive procrastination. I had monthly reports, a pre-tenure review, a search committee meeting and a faculty meeting this week, all that I did not want to do, so the outline was a virtuous out.

    4. Next two weeks goals: (I will not be able to check in next weekend, as I will not have internet until I get home late Sunday night) Take good notes and figure out the further questions that can be answered when I am back home.

    The real schedule: I tend to forget how much I am interrupted during a day. I know what is on my calendar, but there are the dozen small fires that pop up daily to be contained as well. I experimented with writing in any small chunk of time (including the boring parts of the faculty meeting). Also, I derailed my inner critic by writing ideas, images, errant thoughts; any carping about the words not being perfect I countered with “it’s an outline, so hush!”

    I admitted to myself that I cannot do any sustained, polished writing at work; it’s analogous to writing a sonnet in a bar with a live band. However, I do not get a pass to do nothing there, because I can use the five- to twenty-minute stretches to fix a citation or check a textual note.

    It’s okay that I have to do the complex writing at home. Most people take work home, and this is far better than some of what I’ve taken home in the past.

    1. It sounds like you’ve made peace with the reality of your writing-day job balance. I hope your research leave goes well.

      1. Thanks, Amstr. I get to spend five days with manuscripts and incunabula, so I will be a very happy clam.

        As for the day job, I will mangle this quotation, but it is better to light a candle than curse the darkness. I made the choice last spring to take this job rather than to pursue the freelance author route, knowing that some things would chafe. It has made other things possible, like the internal grant monies to do the research. Most of life requires dancing lightly on a double-edged sword.

      2. It’s good to know what sort of writing will work for you where, to make best use of bits and pieces of time – especially when that’s mainly what you have to work with. It’s great that you’ve figured out what works for you where.

    2. I could always grade in the office, but anything else was just too much. I do mybest writing at night when no one can bother me…but editing/expanding I found I did great at this little restaurant that had great atmosphere. Enjoy the research leave!

  19. Yes, this was the week of schedule crunch and I hope it is not reality. I was totally fantasizing when I set goals listed above.

    Accomplished: one block of 6-7 desired blocks of research time. What I did: further planning toward book design and also planned and arranged to give seminar next fall based upon the prospectus and partial manuscript I want to have by then. It felt good.

    Goals for next week: would love to say, reestablish goals for this week but I am saying the usual: 6-7 research blocks, ideally of 2-3 hours each, less if necessary, point is to work daily or near daily. I will in this time: reorganize books and files to get all book materials around me, start storyboarding. Normally I hate to storyboard, find it to be a make-work obstacle, but it is what seems appropariate for this project.

    Commentary A: The following week is fall break and I am doing teaching, service, and vacation, no research pressure, but will be reading or rereading a book TBA related to my book, not because I should but because it is fun and sustaining and good for my mood.

    Commentary B: Why I only got a tiny bit of research time this week: teaching and service/administrative crunch created by taking research time HAD to be dealt with, still has to be dealt with. What I learned: there are certain classes I must design in the pedagogically irresponsible way the instructors do (because they teach 6-7 sections) and not the way the research faculty do (since they only teach 3). Why: a) I will never have so low a service and administrative workload as the men do; I know I should and I can reduce it but getting it down to a man level is not realistic; b) due to field I will not be able to reduce upper-grad level teaching range until we come off hiring freeze and hire the missing person. Ergo: put lower level courses on autograde and cruise like an instructor, do not struggle like a research faculty member who was trained to be a TA at a Very Good School.

    Commentary C: Behavior of AAUP members on my campus is bullying and destructive to their cause. On behalf of the national organization and AAUP goals, I hate their fucking guts and wish they would all retire right now, die and burn in Hell for their sins. If you wonder why unions and guilds have a bad name, look at our AAUP chapter and you will wonder no more. I do not care if you know who I am and therefore know what AAUP chapter I am talking about, in fact I hope you do. They have done their best to have the terrible reputation they have locally, and they deserve to have said reputation broadcast nationally. Once again, I say this as a member of AAUP and supporter of the cause and also of unionization.

    1. I’ve been following your blog for a while and I am full of admiration for a) how much you get done; b) how well you understand your situation; c) how you keep your vital spark nourished under less than ideal circumstances. Wishing you courage, spirit, clarity and gifts of time.

      1. WOW I was just lamenting my deficiencies in precisely those three areas, so now is the right time to hear that, exactly. Thank you.

        Curious about the how well I understand part, how you figured that out.

  20. Last week’s goals: Follow-up memo on BE analysis; 1st draft of internal grant for next study; finish edits on P&P paper.

    Accomplished: Did some analysis on BE paper that resulted in regrouping typologies. I didn’t write a memo but sent the new structure to co-authors. Have an outline for the internal grant but ways to go before I have a complete draft; worked on P&P paper but didn’t finish edits.

    Analysis: No surprise but I have too many open projects and while I’m making progress nothing is actually getting crossed off. It is hard to put anyone project aside because they are all tied to other people (and often students) so I am holding other people up if I don’t do at least a little something on each. I am also reading/commenting on/editing other people’s work way too much. I have 3 students in the dissertation phase and it is taking up a lot of my time.

    Goals for next week: Draft narrative for LM talk; write internal grant; finish edits on P&P paper.

    Commentary: As mentioned above, there are many reasons why I need a new reality. I’ve also been battling migraines for the last three weeks. Each one lasts about 72 hours. They make it incredibly hard to work productively but if I don’t work at all, absolutely nothing will get done. To make it worse, they’ve been showing up on weekends, which is my time for writing/thinking work.

    1. The migraines sound terrible! I hope they leave you alone soon. It sounds like you made some good progress despite them.

    2. It’s hard when there are so many strands connecting you to other people – I do enjoy working with others, the opportunities are good for my research and I particularly like the mentoring-y aspects of co-working, but it adds a lot to the pressure and guilt – I can’t just drop a project for a while because it means dumping on another person, or leaving them hanging, and that’s just not fair.

  21. Behold the writerly glow!! 🙂 This week’s goal was 2,000 words, and I chalked up 2,036.

    Analysis: It’s timely to see DEH’’s comments about schedule, because that’s what I’ve learned the most about over the last few weeks. I now have a better routine, having gotten a more accurate sense of how much prep my graduate seminar & administrative duties take, how much time I can give to the gym without sending everything else out of whack, and how I HAVE to get writing done in the first 2-3 hours of the day or it just won’t happen.

    So the good news is that I figured out that if I keep up this pace, I’ll have 35,000 words done by the end of the year, which is half the book. Sweet!! The bad news is that it’s only half the book, and I will not for a long time have as much writing time as I do this semester. Trying to figure out if I can kick up the numbers a little bit this semester without losing the ability to meet my goals, because I LOVE checking in here having met my goals. (nodding enthusiastically at What Now’s earlier comment about setting realistic, bar-set-low goals. That clearly works for me.)

    1. Congrats on the writerly glow! It feels good when it comes doesn’t it?!

      I like how you map out progress on the book through number of words. I do that as well for articles and when I begin to write my book I will have to continue this practice. Good to see someone else who does it as well. Do you write a certain number or words per day or do you keep the goal weekly?

      1. Thanks! I started with a goal of 2,000 words a week thinking that I could put in writing time five or six days a week. Turns out that that doesn’t work, but I can get almost that much done on Mon/Tues/Weds. So I aim for a little over 500 words a day on those days, and then clean up the rest on Fridays. The word goal really helps, because I have a giant pile of research notes, and just have to work on turning it into prose. To echo Widgeon and ProfessorSusan above, I know that what I have is interesting, but I think I need to write it out before I know why it’s interesting.

    2. Congrats on meeting your goal! Maybe you can keep a lower (for you) goal, and then make it a game to see if you can up the extra number of words each week–so since you did 2036 words this week, go for 2037+ for next week. Prizes for exceeding your goals!

    3. LOL, “Behold the writerly glow” reminds me of the refrain in The Tale of Taliesin, “Behold the radiant forehead!” Don’t know if that was intentional or not, but if you have the powers of Taliesin, way to go!

      1. In fact I think I’ll have to use that if anyone interrupts me during morning writing sessions in my office. “Sorry, not now, I’m writing. Can’t you see my radiant forehead?!”

  22. Last week’s goal: draft the other sections of this paper.

    Accomplished: 1632 words and I finished the data description section of the paper (for now).

    Analysis: I can really only get writing done in 500 words a day. I knew this because this mantra got me through my dissertation. But I thought that now I’m a grown up postdoc and thus do not have to abide by such rules. I had gotten away from writing regularly and wasn’t producing anything at all. Long story short – I’m back to 500 words a day.

    Next week’s goal: 2500 words on the intro and lit review

    Commentary: I try to come up with a schedule but I basically just find that I have to feel things out. I know that I write best after I teach because it takes my mind off of obsessing over how class went. So writing time is contingent on class time. I’m not teaching this semester and I have found that I like to write in the afternoon.

    1. It’s taken me so long to figure out how I work best. Not quite sure I know, even now. I’m glad you have returned to your reliable 500 words. That adds up!

  23. Last week’s goals and what I achieved –
    Finish historiography section – done
    First draft of theoretical framework – half-done. There was more work in this than I anticipated and I needed to do some more thinking sbout it.
    Article – footnotes/additional cites for pp.1-5 – did pages 1-4.

    Commentary –
    I finally started feeling a bit more like myself towards the end of the week, after having my energies sucked dry by being sick recently. I didn’t meet all my goals, but I feel like I had a productive week nonetheless. Which brings me to the schedule question. I always think I can do more than I really can and I still have trouble estimating how long certain things are going to take. I tend to get discouraged by my own to-do/goal lists, so I’m going to try for the less-is-more approach and set the bar pretty low. Which brings me to – 

    This week’s goals:
    I’m about to be inundated with about 40 2500-word essays to mark, so my main goal is not to let that derail my other work. I want to finish the draft of my theoretical framework for the proposal and complete the footnotes for pp.5-8 of the article.
    I’d also like to get back to exercising this week, which wasn’t possible while I was sick. So, two decent walks and two short runs.

    1. Good to know you are getting better. Good luck for your marking and exercising! It will keep you healthy in both body and mind! (Oh, I mean exercising, not marking 40 2500-word essays…)

  24. Goals for last week: review sources for conference paper, write a whopping 400 words for that paper, write two tests for my classes, and finish that annoying book review

    Achieved: absolutely none of it

    Analysis: I was struck down by a migraine Monday, which was bad enough that I had to show a movie in my first two classes because I couldn’t read my notes. I had to cancel my last two classes because the migraine was full-blown at that point and I thought it best not to be ill in front of my students. That meant the rest of the week was a frantic scramble to reorganize my lectures to keep us on track. I covered World War I in two lectures. I am not impressed with myself at all. Luckily, this upcoming week and the following two weeks after it are easier weeks lecture-wise, thanks to each class having an exam, fall break, and group assignments that are supposed to take the place of my missing class for a conference. I’m hoping this means I can get ahead a little bit (that’s my perpetual goal, right, and yet I’m constantly behind) and get back to writing.

    Goals for next week: let’s try this again – review sources for conference paper, write a whopping 400 words for that paper, write two tests for my classes, and finish that annoying book review.

    Clearly my schedule-in-my-head has not worked for me. It never does. My two “free” days for writing end up being lecture-writing days because, with four classes, my class days wipe me out and I don’t get enough of my future lectures finished on those days.

    1. That sounds like a brutal schedule. You might try GEW’s trick of 15 min. a day, even if you’re exhausted, and even if it’s bad writing, just to move you forward and give you some momentum. I’m glad the next few weeks promise to be lighter.

  25. This week I gleefully ignored my stated goal, and instead wrote about 1/2 a draft Phd proposal instead. The down side is that i only managed one writing-day this week – I’m happy with the output, but wish I’d managed to do something constructive on Tuesday and Friday as well. My justification is that i was sick or asleep most of both those days.

    This week… I shall Write Things on both Monday and Friday. Doesn’t matter which Things they are (proposal or paper) , but I shall WriteThings.

      1. I have a list of Things that need to be written (as opposed to a blank page imperative), but I think I may have been over-organising by trying to decide which Things had to be Written first, given they’ve all got common deadlines. 🙂

  26. Last week’s goals: Goals for next week: Drafting week! 1) draft 6000-10,000 words of chapter, 2) read as necessary, 3) freewrite 3×20 min. (or as often as I’m stuck), 4) finish Ch. 3 revision pass (by Mon.)

    Accomplished: 1) approx. 3000 good words, over 9000 ready for shaping, 2) okay, not as much as I’d like, but progress, 3) 3×20 min., 4) Yes! (by Tues. afternoon); also got two important emails sent off.

    Next week’s goals: 1) finish Ch. 2 draft (hand off to reader on Tues), 2) finish 2 books on hand, 3) clean off desk and photocopy lots, 4) type changes, fix footnotes, and reverse outline Ch. 3.

    Commentary: Poor sleep, a good but busy Wed-Fri, and some procrastination kept me from meeting my goals as well as I wanted to this week. I did get Ch. 3 read through, and though it still needs work, it’s manageable. I’ve got a good start to Ch. 2. The first 3000 words are solid, though they still need some blanks filled in and some polishing, and the next 6000 are cut-and-pasted in and ready for a pencil-and-paper read-through to shape them into my new argument. I’ll likely end up cutting a bunch, and then I’ll need to write a few sections (including the conclusion) from scratch.

    I’m heading into a three week push–I need to get Ch. 2 turned into an article and to the collection editor, and I need to get Chs 2 and 3 to my advisor. I’ve got a writing retreat in the middle that should help me keep up productivity. I’m hiring an editor to help me get the chapter draft into article shape, and get the formatting and proofreading done; it’s keeping me accountable and making the schedule possible.

    Reality schedule: I think I’ve underestimated how much of a toll anything extra in my schedule takes from my writing energy. (This week I had stuff Wed. night, Thurs. night, and Fri. morning, and it made focusing during that time extremely difficulty.) I’ve also neglected to take into account how much my spouse’s workload affects our shared home responsibilities. I need to be better about just leaving when I’ve got work time set aside, or finding ways to get into writing mode and leave all the other responsibilities at the office door. I also went through my overall schedule and adjusted my self-imposed deadlines a bit to take into account my progress so far, upcoming holidays, etc. It was freeing to find out that one of my readers isn’t available in January, so after this three week push, I can slow down a (tiny) bit and still make my pre-Christmas full-draft deadline, leaving a couple weeks of January available for proofreading and formatting before I have to have the final version turned in for an early February defense. Onward!

    1. Whew! That’s some heavy lifting you’ve got going on there! I’m here behind you, cheering at your progress!

      How long do you have between submission and defense? A few weeks?

      As for home responsibilities, I almost always leave the house when I need to work. If I’m here, I’ll start doing laundry or something that sucks away the time. Or if the kids are home, it’s all over.

      Yay for your retreat!

  27. Last week’s goal: 15 min per day, six days for a total of 1.5 hours. (Possible tasks: work on primary source explication in chapter five, review important quotations from from primary or secondary sources and type them into document.)

    Accomplished: I did 15 minutes per day. One day I did 28 minutes. About half the time was spent writing, and half was spent reading. I think I got down about 600 words! Reading, as I’ve said, is a bit less productive in short bursts than is writing.

    Analysis: My schedule is working okay. I think I have been fairly realistic. I run three mornings a week (Tues, Thurs, Sun), some days for just 15 minutes but usually for more like 30. On Tuesday and Thursday I squeeze it in while the kids are just waking up and Hubby is putting together breakfast. When I get back, I finish getting them ready while Hubby showers, etc. Then he takes them to school before he goes to work, and I start getting ready. It’s precarious, but it’s working. Sundays it’s not quite so tight.

    I prep and grade in the mornings (except for Wed when I volunteer in my daughter’s class), and then I’m on campus from about 10-5 everyday, and then it’s kids, dinner, and helping with homework. After they go to bed (around 8:45), I grade or prep or whatever for about an hour. When possible, Hubby and I then watch an episode of something (which takes 43 minutes). SO . . . I’ve usually been doing my 15 minutes the last thing at night, which means I’m getting sleep a bit later (usually around 11:30), but so far, it’s okay.

    Next week’s Goal: 15 minutes per day, six day of the week, for a total of 1.5 hours. In addition, I’d like to do a bit of extra reading or database searchers.

    This week should be interesting. I head to a confenrence early Wed morning on the train (Pacific Surfliner!). It’s a seven-hour train ride, so I hope to get a lot done. I’ll have three stacks of papers, but grading can be hard if the train rocks. So I might try to get in some extra reading. But the conference will be busy, and I also need to prep a novel, so we’ll see. I’m riding home with a colleague, and when I get home, we’ll have guests, so it could be rough. But I’ll do my 15 minutes, if nothing else!

    Sorry for the long post!

    1. Totally converting to the brief bursts school of writing. I hope you have a lovely, productive trip!

  28. Last week’s goal: 1) 500 words; some necessary research; an hour of experimenting with the form of the lyric essay 2) 4 20-minute sessions on poem sequence.

    Accomplished: 1) 500 words. A teeny, tiny bit of the necessary research. A wee smidge of experimenting with the form of the lyric essay. 2) One 20-minute session. Two 5-minute sessions.

    Next week’s goal: 1) Aside from obtaining a necessary source just discovered, let the lyric essay have a rest week while I focus my prose energies on a residency application. 2) Four 12-minute sessions on the poem sequence.

    Analysis: Yes, indeed, a timely week for the examination of the real schedule! The real schedule hit with the first serious grading (43 papers and some smaller assignments). Next week will also involve recommendation letters, narrative grade reports, and two late evenings for work. And yet I did push the lyric essay along some distance, and I did make real progress in the roughly half an hour I was able to devote to the poems. It actually shocks me how little time I seem to spend at the keyboard, but how much I can get done when the work is running in the background of my mind and I keep reopening the file to tinker.

    Another insight: a good use of the weekend is to help me get a running start on the week’s writing goals. Prep and grading mostly get done during the week anyway.

    1. I like the notion of “prose energies,” with the implication that of course energy levels can be increased or decreased but that they aren’t a limitless supply. (I’m going to have to devote some prose energy this week to letters of rec, which I’ve been steadfastly ignoring until now.)

      And I think that a rest week can be a very good thing for a project!

      1. The idea that it’s not just a matter of time, but also of energy, seems to be a continuing thread in this week’s discussion, and I think it’s an important one. Some things are just plain more tiring to deal with than others (and, usually, even more tiring to have hanging over one’s head), and which ones they are vary by person.

  29. Last week’s goal: finish this damn editing job so I can get back to the writing! (I love that you copied that exactly, Dame E!)

    Accomplished: As Gold Five says to Gold Leader in Star Wars (the original): “Stay on target!” Oh wait, then Gold Leader gets blown to smithereens…OK, what I’m *trying* to say is that I’ve got the proofs of three remaining texts in the anthology to review today, so by the end of today (Sunday), I will have finished this damn editing job! Woot!

    Next week’s goal: Do some serious writing and thinking about my two writing projects. Since it’s going to have to wait until Friday (more below), let’s make the concrete goals this: 1) 250 words on the invited article and 2) some background reading for the review essay.

    Monday and Tuesday are our little mini Fall Break here at Rust Belt U, so since I’ve had to work through the weekend (because tomorrow is the deadline for my finished and edited proofs — just making it!), I’m taking Monday and Tuesday as my weekend and doing some gardening! That means I’m going to have to spend Wednesday on some serious catch-up re: teaching, so there goes writing time on both Monday and Wednesday (I teach 3 classes on T/R, so I never get writing done then). That’s why this week’s writing and thinking will have to wait until Friday. Then, maybe, finally, I can get back to a regular, sane schedule, not only for the professional work (writing in the mornings M/W/F), but also for life (exercise, household care, leisure time with the spouse) and for teaching, which I’ve been phoning in for one class in particular so far this semester. (For the first time ever, I’ve not been re-reading the texts I’ve been teaching! At least not in that class.) So yeah, I can completely relate to this week’s topic of how schedules get blown to hell (in this case, by a project that was supposed to be finished before the semester began but took *much* longer than anticipated). I’m looking forward to October, November, and December being a little more normal.

    1. Oh, and PS — Maybe starting this week I’ll have a little more time to read and respond to everyone else’s posts, too. I feel like I’ve been a crap group member.

    2. Congratulations on finishing this editing project — that’s a big deadline to have crossed the finish line for! (wait, I think that’s a mixed metaphor.) And good for you for taking a couple of days of recovery and R&R afterward, which will give you much more energy as you get back to your “regular life” schedule.

  30. Last week’s goal: Revise the newly combined AB/J section, smooth out the transitions, and skim related library book that just came in. To do this, I need to work at least 1 hour/day on teaching days and 3 hours/day on non-teaching days.

    Accomplished: Not much.

    Analysis: I knew last week would be busy and writing might be pushed aside. Unfortunately, I was right. But knowing that it might happen helped me to not stress so much about it. Not sure if that made sense. ;-p

    I did complete four major projects unrelated to the book manuscript revisions. Having those projects off my to-do list clears some mental space for to get back to revisions.

    Next week’s goal: GET BACK ON TRACK! To do this, I need to spend 1 hour/TD and 4-5 hours/NTD finishing the revisions to the AB/J section, finishing the library book that came in, and deciding what remains to be done to chapter 1.

    Great topic for this week, Dame Eleanor. Wednesdays and Fridays are non-teaching days, so I had set those aside as research and writing intensive days. However, the reality is that by Friday I’m wiped out after three heavy teaching days and one writing day. So the reality is that Friday is a good day to take care of household chores, spend time with my spouse, etc. I try to get in a couple of hours of writing on Friday, but I really don’t stress about it. Sundays, instead, are better writing days because I’ve had time to take care of home stuff and rest.

    1. Yay mental space and clearing the four projects! And that realization of what is possible on particular days of the week is exactly what I was on about. Now, if I could just get down to stuff today, when I’m not wiped out, but just not feeling motivated . . .

  31. Goals: 1) get the appendix and figures sorted, circulate the manuscript 2) review the status and make a work-plan for the few-author paper (goal b) 3) sort out travel plans for the paper I’m giving in October

    achieved: 1) done. Waiting on others… 2) not touched. 3) not done – oops! October is now TOMORROW. I did however have a productive spell of sorting through bits and pieces of files and talking to myself, and have now got a nice little list and set of steps laid out for all the analyses lined up that I need for the October paper and for one in November and thence an article later in the academic year, so that now I can use 20-minute gaps in the day to progress that project knowing that I’m going in the right direction. Oh yeah, and I also wrote a one page proposal for a possible PhD studentship opportunity that opened up.

    analysis: I don’t know. Not a brilliant week in some ways – traffic problems and one accidental snooze-alarm-too-many really threw off my commute, and my eating patterns got worse and worse (not helped by coffee and biscuits sessions with each cohort of returning students, two lunches with new freshers in the department, and my next door neighbour at the office being unusually neighbourly and offering to pick stuff up from the deli for me at lunch time (which meant that when I’d eaten the ‘good bits’ of my lunch by eleven and was left with salad and fruit for actual lunch, I suddenly had the option for a toastie or filled roll to go with that, and I said yes when I should have known better), which also drains the energy levels in the medium term. Also, the more the other authors on the few-author paper nag me, the less I want to work on it. I want a big block of time for it, for some reason I can’t quite articulate, and other things fit better into the gaps in the day I have. It was also only the first week of the semester, so things changed a lot in terms of interruption levels, levels of interactions with other people and so on, which are always draining at first.

    goals for next week: 1) review the status and make a work-plan for the few-author paper (goal b), with permission to have the plan start in November if necessary! 2) sort out travel plans for the paper I’m giving in October, 3) chip away at the analyses for that paper October, 4) make decision about focus for the big grant application (deadline is 1st Dec, but if I don’t decide and start NOW it won’t happen) (goal c)

    the real schedule: what with the messed up timetable (in one module, we meet for two hours, once a week, and over the ten class weeks requested, we have three different times on two different days, so one week it’s 11 on Tuesday and then it’s 4 on wednesday and then 12 on Tuesday – in fact worse than that because we’ve had to move a couple of the Tuesday sessions to Monday to avoid a clash for one student with a module from a different department…), and the way we team-teach, I have no stable schedule – each week is different, even at the macro level of which year groups I see and which day is my not-working day. This stresses me out, and also provides lots of opportunities for pseudo-productive procrastination (my weekly timetables are each drawn up neatly using different coloured pens…). I also find that the variability of the weather, both internal and external, at this time of year make it very hard to have a stable schedule – obviously I hope there will not be any viruses to add to the mix, but I have a suspiciously sore throat and several colleagues (and about half the freshers) were snuffling and coughing and wheezing by Friday… I would really, really like a nice boring repetitive schedule. It would be so comfortable, just for a change…

    1. Are you me? 🙂 If you weren’t on a 2-weeks delay with the start of the semester compared to mine and a large grant DL six weeks before yours, that sounds exactly like my situation – no real schedule due to module units, team-teaching, etc. and a different set of timing each week. Or maybe it’s a Europe vs. US thing?

      Anyway, good luck, hope it all calms down.

  32. Sorry that I missed last week. I forgot there is a time difference, so at the end of my day, I couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t post. Duh.

    Accomplished: I took the time to really try to figure out my Access program and work out some statistics that I insist that I need for my last chapter.

    Analysis: I keep fluctuating between my introduction and last chapter, which I have done for the past few months. I am in this vicious cycle of work, personal insecurity, and a dose of laziness. I tend to put too much effort into teaching and not enough into my own work. Ahh, the problem of being a people pleaser. What I am finding though, at my new institution as new faculty, is that I really do want to be less focused on my students. I do not really have time to repeat AGAIN to look at the help aides that I have uploaded to the course site or explain AGAIN how to do footnotes. I can’t hold their hands. But, I still struggle with this. Perhaps because I am teaching a syllabus that I did not create and I have a TA who is questioning everything that I do. blah, blah, blah.

    The real schedule: I took a step two weeks ago to take greater control of my schedule. I bought a parking pass. I haven’t done this in a decade, and it was very weird. However, rather than spending 2+ hours on the bus/waiting for the bus, my daily commute is now less than an hour. I still haven’t worked exercise into my new routine yet. I think though that by emotionally stepping away from my students, my schedule will become more my own.

    1. Oh, yeah, my goal for next week . . . hmm . . . yes, I need to be reasonable because it is a very busy week for me. I am aiming for 1000 words.

  33. Last week’s goal: pick a paper, work on argument using Belcher’s book

    Accomplished: decided on a dissertation chapter to turn into article; cut out about 2/3 of the words and dropped a bunch of related notes into the remaining document

    Analysis: not too shabby; I worked on this for 3 days out of 5 this week (20 to 30 minutes), which gives me some hope that I *can* find time for writing, even in my “realistic schedule”

    Realistic Schedule: as someone said above, it’s not always just how much time my other tasks take, but also how much energy. Being new to teaching, I spent a lot of time just worrying about lecture, how class went, whether I’m grading too hard or too easy. . . So, not only do I tend to over-prepare, but I also worry myself pretty sick some weeks. Not so much this week, though, which is why I’m thinking there might be some hope, and some time for writing

    Next week’s goal: 20 to 30 minutes on the paper on Mon, Tue, Wed, and Fri; working on the argument section in Belcher, and after that, the secondary lit section

    1. Can you find yourself either a not-quite-so-new friend or someone at the same stage you are, with whom you can debrief once a week, and then maybe let yourself off the worry hook the rest of the time because you know there will be chance to talk through the class stuff?

  34. [Great topic, Dame — exactly what I’ve been thinking about , too — but I’m rushing off to a meeting, so I’m going to check in very quickly to make sure I meet the deadline, and come back to kibbitz, commiserate, etc. later if there’s still time afterward]

    Last week’s goal:Make progress on P project work, especially overdue correspondence, as possible; Do MLA DH workshop application.

    Accomplished:None of the above

    Analysis:coming later if comments are still open when I get back

    Next week’s goal:Do DH application (by 10/1 deadline); do a freelance piece due Friday; figure out exactly what I need to do for P project presentation (c. 10 days from now) and finish handouts in time for copying (which may mean Thursday of this week because of holiday weekend)

    1. Okay, so there’s a bit of time to spend on the prompt, it seems. I’ve definitely been dealing with the “real schedule” question, mostly because I’m chairing a church committee that meets for a brief period but intensively (we nominate people to fill various offices in the church). So meetings keep popping up in odd places, adding to an already too-steady diet of evening meetings. Add to that my first experience with teaching an evening class for many, many years, and I’m having trouble figuring out a sleep schedule. I have figured out that the day after the late-evening class is unlikely to be productive, and made that my “day off” (which isn’t entirely satisfactory since a regular evening commitment means it’s not entirely off, even in the weeks where I manage to take some of it off). That seemed to work well (or at least better than piddling around exhaustedly meaning to do something) when I tried it last week. But at this point getting into a routine seems something of a lost cause until after a conference the week after next (which is also the week we have a mini-fall break that moves Monday classes to Tuesday — so as to even out the missed days). And here I am writing things rather than in bed an hour after I should be in bed. The only thing I’ve consistently done right this semester is to guard my Saturdays very, very carefully. It hasn’t provided time for the writing or the household projects I’d hoped, but it has given me time to catch up.

      So, yes, it’s an issue, but I don’t yet have any, or at least many, solutions. I do hope the extra church duties (there’s another project that I hope is near completion/abandonment) will diminish soon (and I’m determined not to take on more, and in a position to make that stick, since I’m winding down some fairly substantial ones). In the shorter term, I’m hoping to make something of a fresh start when I return from the conference 2 weeks from today, and to make the conference itself a bit of a break. That will require getting through lots and lots of grading in the next week-10 days.

  35. I did some writing, any writing, while traveling. Other goals not met, but I expected that.

    Next week: get some previous writing typed up and organized. I have an interview and also think I came home from (productive) THATCamp sick, so am keeping expectations low.

    I did stumble across a wonderful and completely unexpected primary source that set off some good thinking about the larger project I’d like this article to be part of. That was pretty exciting! And i’ve been doing some other reading/writing towards soe more creative work. I was quite overdue for a good change of scenery.

    Schedulng is different for me as I usually have a lot of teaching the first half or so of the semester, and then it tapers off into other, related things, but much less classroom time. I’m now past the bulk of the teaching, so my time changes somewhat.

  36. Getting in just under the wire here, but not with good news…

    Last week’s goal: work at least 90 minutes every day (preferably mornings), in which I a) finish integrating the “found” material with the more recent writing; b) do markup and figure out where I need to make changes; c) skim and take notes on 2 books that just came in.

    Did I accomplish it: Hell, no. Not even close. Why? Well…

    Commentary: I think the “real schedule” theme applies to me here, but in some ways, it’s more about my own lack of self-discipline, combined with the first real crop of papers to grade *and* hitting a rough patch in the work where I need to read for a while, rather than write new work. I’m still a firm believer in “write every day,” but right now (and maybe for the next few weeks) it needs to be notes on the reading. So, I’m hitting the reset button, and figuring every new week is a chance to get it right. So…

    Next week’s goal: Recommit to getting up early, and get 90 minutes of work a day, split between reading and taking notes-and-musings on the readings.

  37. So, missed last week’s check-in due to family medical issues, as foreseen. Lesson learnt: I should have explicitly written off last week as a ‘no work, no check-in’ week.

    Goal from two weeks ago: cannibalize thesis for useful bits for article. Accomplished! But, nothing else accomplished.

    Goal for this week: start turning that into an article. 30 minutes/day for 5 days. 1 research trip to the library.

    Commentary: I really need this group to keep me accountable, and I really need to set goals that take life events into account.

    1. Cannibalising things into an article is such a strange process. I just put aside a draft done that way, and it was… very much unlike any other writing project.

  38. I’m checking in late, too; I’m so sorry. This week also got away from me, but the one silver lining is that I finally finished the Huge Service Assignment (which, on the last tally, has taken up over 40 hours this month). So I’m feeling more optimistic about forging ahead with writing.

    Last week’s goals: 45 minutes of writing first thing every day.

    Accomplished: Not every day, but most days. It’s been hard to force myself to write rather than prep before my class, but I’m getting better at it. Unfortunately, my writing mostly consisted of notes rather than ‘finished’ prose. But the notes are helping me think of different directions to the chapter.

    Next week’s goals: 45 minutes of writing every day (again), with more substantive chunks on non-teaching days. By the end of this week, I hope to have some sort of 10-page draft, however rough.

    The real schedule: Now that I’m done with this service commitment, I hope to start settling into a more ‘normal’ schedule of teaching, grading, writing. And sleeping and exercising. This week, I’m committing to getting back into swimming, which always makes me feel *so* much better about everything else.

    1. Notes are good. I tend to go from lots of notes (often somewhat repetitive) to more compact, more finished prose that actually involves fewer words.

      And congrats on finishing the service commitment. It sounds like that will free up both time and head space.

  39. Am I late?? Pant, pant, I hope I’m not too late!

    Goals: a) Make a list of small tasks that still need to be done! b) set aside at least 15 minutes every day to chip away at these small tasks! if not c) an actual prose-revising session on any day I can muster the energy!

    Accomplished: 1 hour last Sunday, 15 minutes this Sunday. I know I’m totally not fulfilling my goals for this writing group this semester, but without the group I probably wouldn’t even be making the few, desperate flings toward the target that I am currently attempting.

    So this week I had family members visit from out of town for four days and I did *nothing* besides show them around and eat things. And teach my classes. This means I got even further behind on the grading BUT I hauled ass this weekend and may have actually gotten caught up! And I have been doing all my yoga workouts! And having energy! And I did a big pile o’ job apps on Saturday, which I may count as writing even though it’s not book revision.

    My goals this coming week: a) make a list of small tasks that still need to be done! b) set aside at least 30 minutes every day to chip away at the small tasks! or c) actually revise my prose for that 30 minutes if I have the energy! If not, I have to at least reread the passage I am revising again, so that I don’t forget everything I am planning to do.

    1. Wow! That sounds like a really productive weekend, and not just focused on grading (which is, of course, important, but can easily suck up all the available time/energy, and then some). Hurrah for yoga and energy and job apps; that sounds like time well spent.

  40. Oh, man, speaking of late check-ins, I nearly forgot all about this. The day got away from me.

    Last goal: get closer to two hours/day of research; send a draft of the revised proposal to recommenders and to someone else who offered to read it. See if I can move forward with the MMP and translation project, as well.

    Achieved: at least one hour on 6 days this week; two on a couple of days. Some reading for the MMP, some proposal work. Not achieved: sending draft to readers. Translation, ha, unless it counts that I read an e-mail from one of my collaborators.

    Next goal: same as the last.

    Analysis: Things were quieter on the feline front this week, which helped a lot. I had to go in to work extra early a couple of days, as well, so I was in an environment that was conducive to work. And I had a couple of interesting articles to read. I think I’m pretty far in the hole with grading, though. My biggest problem is feeling like there are just too many things to keep track of, none particularly onerous on its own, but in the aggregate they are wildly distracting and annoying. I may have to put aside Tuesday this week just for getting some of those things done, and not even try to write or grade that day. Some desk-clearing/head-clearing would help. I think I don’t have the usual Monday meeting this week, which will (I hope) allow me to get a bit of extra something done tomorrow.

    Since it looks like some people were hoping to come back and cheer others on, I’ll leave the comments open a bit longer (especially as I’m so late myself this week).

    I’m glad the group is helping people get work done, even if I’m not as involved as I’d like to be with the cheering-on!

    1. An hour a day six days a week sounds like an improvement. 🙂 Also I’m glad the kitties are more stable.

      I award myself mental gold stars if I can get an hour of academic *something* (emails, schedules, reading, editing other people’s work, whatever) done before heading off to Paid Employment on the days I have to do that. It helps with the head/desk clearing.

    2. Popping up to cheer you on! I have a colleague who refers to the too-many-things-to-keep-track-of problem as “being pecked to death by ducks.” October usually has a lot of that. At least an hour a day 6 days/week is good! Hope this week gives you more time for desk and head maintenance.

    3. Oh, I’m completely with you, Dame Eleanor, on how having to track too many things distracts from work. Good luck. And when you figure out how to keep track of them, will you please let me know?

    4. Thank you for leaving the comments open, Dame Eleanor. I don’t often get a chance to comment again over the weekend but there is a lot of very hard work going on recorded here!

      Good luck with the writing, and with all the distracting tasks too! (Do you have ways of keeping track of all the little tasks?)

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