Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Time to make a plan

So far, this working from home stunt is the most wonderful idea I have gotten in a long time. I actually did go into work for a few hours yesterday afternoon to discuss a manuscript with my co-author, but it felt so different because I came to do someting specific and not just because I had to be there (I really do have a problem with being told what to do). I will also come in for some meetings next week, but rather than come in the morning and stay the full day, I will come for the scheduled meetings and leave afterwards. I have been thinking about the duration of this "sabattical" and unless I get really bored at home I will probably be away from the office quite a lot for all the four weeks leading up to Easter break. Given that I want to come in for all the meetings I think my original idea of two weeks is too short to really get something done at home, and I might try to squeeze in a family visit in connection to Easter break near the end of the four weeks. This might not make me the worlds most popular person at work, but what can I do. I am four months away from starting a faculty position, and I really, really need to create the best possible circumstances for myself to get some serious writing done before my life is taken over by teaching.

So what should I be doing for the next four weeks?

Writing projects:

Finish the last layout details and minor edits to illustrations on manuscript that should have been submitted long ago and submit it (this should be doable in about a day)

Write a first draft of new manuscript and make first versions of some of the figures (this should be in a state where my coauthor can take over the manuscript around March 1st, but some of the figures should be in a state where we can meet and discuss them already next week)

Final revisions to text and illustrations on another manuscript which should have been submitted long ago (this should not take more than a week, maybe less, but since the manuscript doesn't have a particular deadline and is already late I don't want to make this a priority until I have a decent grip on the other two)

Research maintenance work:

Scan all illustrations from field notebooks from last summer and finish field reports (this is unbelievably boring, but totally mindless work, and some colleagues need the data in the field reports in order to prepare joint conference presentations, so it cannot wait much longer)

Go into work for a few hours and finish the sample list from last summer, call someone at the lab at organize where to deliver the samples for analysis (if I don't do this very soon, the samples won't be processed before I leave the institution and I might end up having to pay for the lab services because the lab hours are budgeted internally)

Creative research projects

Read and search for literature related to my field in new location and narrow down some research ideas I can start looking into (this is kind of vague and open, but I think I need to leave it like that. I don't need a formal research proposal, but I need to have an idea about what kind of research I can start up in the new place, in order to decide, whether I should plan some initial field work this summer)

Develop new work-related blog (I put this here because I think this might go hand in hand with thinking about a new line of research, but also to make it clear to myself that I consider it a professional project and not only a personal hobby)

Personal projects and necessary life maintenance

Clean the house (seriously, this goes high up on the list)

Pay bills and go through finances (this is also something I have let slip lately and which I really need to catch up on soon)

Sort big pile of personal paperwork from bank, insurance, salary slips, car purchase and much, much more

Start investigating prices, companies, time lines for move (this doesn't have to happen right now, but since everything will be shipped long-distance it can't wait forever either)

Blog about all the topics I have been wanting to talk about in a long time, but didn't have the energy to actually write.

Buy some clothes, an external harddisk and a few other items I have had on my wish list for a while, but haven't prioritised the time to actually find and buy

Get to the gym and back into a habit of regular exercise

Other research stuff

This is the big black box or the time sink that is a result of being involved in several large research projects. This is meetings, admin, visits related to outreach projects, planning, logistics, organising and I don't know what. This is the demands on my time I hope to keep at a minimum for the next few weeks, but which cannot be eliminated completely, because when the project ball is rolling, it's rolling whether I want it or not. Planned activities for the next few weeks include so far:

Meeting to discuss an archiving system for all the digital data related to the project and how to connect analogue data to this database.

Visit to science exhibition to figure out how we are going to set up a similar exhibition next year on another topic.

Meeting to discuss formalities and preparations for students who will be joining us in the field next summer

Institution wide photo session

Department meeting

Meeting to learn to work with new data in GIS

This is just for the next two weeks. More meetings will probably pop up soon.

I will consider anything that gets crossed off this list during the next four weeks a success whether personal or professional. I really need to make all of this a priority for a while.


At 6:43 AM, Blogger Dr. Shellie said...

Good luck with your goals; I think you are absolutely right in defining your own priorities and preparing for the next step!

At 5:55 PM, Blogger saxifraga said...

Thanks dr. shellie and thanks for stopping by. I actually feel good about having allowed personal goals and doings onto the list for once.

At 5:05 AM, Blogger Wayfarer Scientista said...

Good luck! And indeed, personal goals need to be there too - they are part of that whole "creating the best possible space for yourself". Oh, and I seemed to have missed far away are you moving?

At 9:53 AM, Blogger saxifraga said...

I am moving about 2000 km to the north (yes, one wouldn't think that wasn't an option considering where I am now, but it is). I think I sent a link to my new university to the email group at one point, but I can tell you by email again.

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