I'm continuing to work with academic coach Sally Schmall this semester to build good work habits. Sally is awesome and I highly recommend her -- if she can work with distractomel, she can work with anyone! -- and wanted to write up a couple notes from this week's coaching session.

  1. It's important to budget bounded time for "opportunity exploration" -- things that might be projects later, but aren't core projects now. When those opportunities come up, sit down and write out what you can give and what you'd need to get in advance of any conversations so you'll be prepared for those negotiations before saying a formal "yes" to putting something on your core-projects plate -- which should never be overloaded.
  2. When evaluating opportunities for your core-projects plate, the team is also a factor to consider; would this be a good networking opportunity, will the current team be likely to get good stuff done with/without you, etc?
  3. When you're off-equilibrium because a lot of things on your schedule are uncertain and unknown, do not compensate for that by scheduling more known things in, even if it's comforting to have Things On Your Calendar Saying What You'll Be Doing. You'll still end up with all the unknown things on your plate anyway, you'll just need to schedule them around the concrete things you put down in the meantime, and this is a recipe for overwork.

One of my assignments for the next two weeks is to try to stick to the schedule I've set, and see how much I deviate from it -- but not to change the schedule itself. (This makes sense. I need some sort of baseline; when I lifehack, I keep changing what I'm trying to measure, which does not work.)

I'd probably give myself a C so far; I'm getting things done roughly at the dates I said I would, but grading keeps on slipping, and I'm distractable, and there are some times I could have defended my schedule better... but there are times I have defended my schedule in the first place (so I'm proud of that, because before I wouldn't have defended my schedule at all!)

Another thing I wanted to note that worked really well over winter break was only picking two things to work on: one research project and teaching prep (instead of my original winter-break list of "oh, I'll read this and this and this, and write that and that, and work on these three research projects, and my prelim proposal, and my class, and and and...) Those two ended up being more than enough to do, and I actually got them done, and everything else ended up being something I hadn't needed to do over winter break after all.