Sunday, June 10, 2018

Getting Stuff Done, Summer Edition: A Couple of Tips

(source: http://phdcomics.com/comics.php?f=2013)
A belated welcome to summer to everyone out there. And to all the academics, there's this:



Yes, most of us probably begin the summer with an overly ambitious list of Stuff I Will Accomplish (otherwise known as Write All the Things). Some of us were also dumb enough to take on some teaching-related projects, which provide equal doses of fulfillment (yay! students who want to learn stuff!) and recrimination (boo! i should be writing!). I'm going to try to chronicle these for myself a bit this summer, but that'll be later. Right now is the unsolicited advice portion, which I hope will be helpful to others (and even to myself, if I can manage to take my own advice), whether your degree of self-overload is insane or merely unreasonable.

1. Don't beat yourself up. I've learned the hard way, over and over, that I always think I can do more than I can actually do. I still set overly ambitious goals for myself, though those have moderated with time. But I also learned to count 70% as a win. Hey, a C is a passing grade, right?

2. Remind yourself to do a little every day. For me, this means that The Chore Chart is Back. Over spring break, I had tons of categories in there because the need was urgent. This time, I've stripped them down to the following: write something, read or transcribe something, do something student- or teaching-related,[1] do a chore, try to do three physically healthy things.  The daily goal is to be able to check off four of the five categories. As I said in the previous post: I'll do just about anything for a gold star.

3.  Don't forget that you're not just a collection of deadlines. The "do three healthy things" goal is part of this for me, but yours may be "do something with family or friends" or "go to religious services" or "go outside." I don't personally care for the phrase "self-care", for reasons I won't get into, but I guess that's more or less what I'm talking about here. A fat lot of good an impressive CV will do you if you turn into a troll-beast. You're a person. It's easy to forget that during the semester. Use the summer to hit the reset button on that idea, and see how far into the fall it can carry you.

That's it. For the moment. In a couple of days I'll check back in with something really cool that I did with my students recently, one of those things where I didn't regret saying "yes" one bit.


[1] Yes, I actually somehow said yes when I was supposed to say no, and now I've got weekly meetings with students all summer, and syllabi to revise, and and and.... It'll all be to the good, but only if I tackle it one thing at a time.





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I really like the idea of having a list of daily goals/tasks and then being happy with checking off a certain number of them (4 of 5, as you say) each day.

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