Tuesday, January 06, 2009

And now for a more practical attempt at some goals

I’m taking classes this week and it’s probably a good way to ease into the semester, but half the time they seem to be cancelled or cut short and I end up with some free time on my hands. Right now I spent one such hour on writing a blog post rather than getting started on any of the real work on my to do list. I think I can cut myself some slack as it’s only the second day of the semester and it’s likely I would have prolonged the break anyway if it wasn’t for this course, but I wouldn’t want it to go on like this for very long.

I will have a lot of unstructured time this semester, and that’s promising for being able to be productive, but also dangerous for someone like me who work better and more efficiently if I have a lot to do. In some ways I think the craziness of last year’s schedule forced me to be productive in the short time spans I had available and this year it will just be easy to let administration and all the little day to day tasks take over the days.

I’ve tried various schedules for what to do each day before and they usually fall apart after a while, but maybe it’s time to try to follow a new one any way. So for the weeks where I don’t have another full-time activity going on I’ll try to follow this reincarnation of a previously tried and tested schedule.

For all days where I’m not full-time occupied with something else (at meetings, in classes, travelling)

At least 4 hours research (actual writing and reading):

At least 2 hours writing first thing every day
1 hour reading to catch up on literature

No more than 4 hours admin (anything else than writing and reading incl. student advising, meetings, phonecalls, other research-related tasks, planning, reports):

At least 1 hour spent on typing up field notes, photo lists etc for last year’s field report until it’s done

That’s it.

For this week I’ll spend these extra hours (if any more comes my way) to catch up on the literature for big projects I’m supposed to know something about by now.

A new year and new challenges

2008 was good but crazily busy with starting a new job, moving and finally getting some publications out. The past three years have been very much about reaching up and out and achieving new things. This year will hopefully be about getting settled and about building a foundation at work and at home on which I can rely for some years to come. Professionally I don’t want to take on more new responsibilities just for the sake of it, and want to build on what I already have and focus on getting better at what I already do. Personally I want to get involved in the community here and keep working on making personal well-being a priority.

I will be teaching very little in 2009. I only have a summer course for four weeks in June-July, but this is a new course and will require some attention to logistics in addition to catching up on the literature and preparing the course. Hopefully the lesser teaching load will allow me to focus on getting through the backlog of papers to write and manuscripts to revise, especially as my main projects are moving towards a heavy writing-up phase in collaboration with many others. I also want to get back to reading and catching up on literature, something which has truly fallen by the wayside the past few years. This post and it’s comments gave some good ideas for how to get back to the pile of papers-to-read that is always lurking. I have three grad students to get started this spring semester and another one to follow up, two conferences to attend in the spring and at least one in the fall, about six weeks of field work planned for the summer and probably more than enough work-related travel. If I can get the two new projects off to a reasonable start, get some papers out the door and some time during the year, when the time is right, start working on one larger and maybe some smaller proposals I’ll consider the year a success.

Personally I want to get back to running or doing other kinds of exercise regularly. I started thinking about how to really make this a priority in December and want to keep thinking about it that way. I also want to learn to have fun outside here in winter. I want to buy some better skis and learn proper skiing, so I’m not afraid of making a fool of myself when being outside. I want to learn to be comfortable with winter fieldwork and all the safety and logistic issues that one needs to know to enjoy time outside here. I’m always shying away from this, because I don’t like things I’m not good at and I’m not practical at all, but really want to approach this in a different way.

I hope I will have more time at home than last year and especially a more regular schedule with fewer interruptions by travel. Never having more than two or three consecutive weeks at home was probably the single most stressful issue last year and the lack of consistency makes it difficult for me to stick to a writing schedule/ training schedule/reading schedule or attend any kind of regular event or activity. I’m sure there will still be travel and for the next few months there will be some travel each month, but we have cancelled a planned vacation in order to get some more time at home and actively limiting travel should probably go on my priority list for 2009.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Happy New Year

It's the first day of the semester and my first day back at the office after a two week break. the students are back, University above the Arctic circle is buzzing with life and I'm attending a week-long long safety course to learn how to survive the winter field season. I didn't do any work at all during the break and I'm happy about that. I needed to leave the work thoughts behind for a while and focus on other things. I've spent time with my family, met my twin nieces for the first time, spent time with the husband's family and visited grad school city. It's been great to see the sun, sleep, read books for fun, catch up with people, talk to my parents and my siblings, see my nieces and nephews play and just be me for a while. It's also been kind of exhausting because much travel was involved, and I'm not very excited about leaving again already next week for an upcoming conference and another family visit or about settling back into work for that matter. I am excited about being back, though. About sleeping in my own bed, deciding what to eat and at which time and about spending time with the husband in our own home. I'm also excited about being back in the polar night, about getting back to running regularly and about not teaching this semester.