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Posts Tagged ‘future’

This week I am still on DISCIPLINE (and likely will be for a few more weeks) and so let’s turn to the next quiz question:

I’m good at controlling perfectionism, realizing that some things are good enough.

Actually, I am pretty good at controlling perfectionism. My advisor thinks that I have a problem in this area and that I tend to overwrite and overthink everything. But I think that the core issue is really procrastination and a difficulty with follow-through – I have problems finishing what I started.

I think that the reason for that (the procrastination) is a combination of fear of failure and fear of success. Now I know it sounds crazy that I would be both at the same time, but at heart I am afraid of change. But it is clear that I have screwed myself in some ways as a result – the research was done 3.5 years ago and I could be finished and employed by now. And now I will be on the job market (after an unsuccessful attempt this year) in the worst year in recent history for getting a job, let alone an academic job. So I have issues. But perfectionism isn’t one of them. So on to the next question:

I avoid putting things off or waiting until the last minute.

Yeah. I gave myself a 1 on this one (1-5 with 5 being totally agree) so, as noted above, I clearly have a major problem with procrastination. 

She points out that it doesn’t matter if you check off 9 of your 10 tasks on your To Do list, if the 10th is the one that really matters. She writes:

Your work as an employee will consistently outpace your coworkers’ work if  you spend your time focusing on the critical few tasks that lead to the highest performance, value, and output.

That sounds a bit dog-eat-dog but I sort of appreciate the ruthlessness implied. No silly Men-in-Black “to be the best of the best of the best, SIR” mission statements for her. Let’s rewrite that for the “almost finished” Ph.D. and job candidate:

Your attractiveness as a job candidate will consistently outshine other candidates’  attractiveness if  you spend your time focusing on the critical few tasks that lead to the highest performance, value, and output. 

In other words: FINISH the damn DISS and get some articles out for publication!

I think that the following mantra sums it up:

My (Brain) Work Must Come First

I should probably have that tattooed – backwards, so I can see it in the mirror – on my forehead.

She then has tips for specific issues:

Is the task overwhelming?

Umm, yeah. So she recommends breaking it into smaller pieces. Tried it, doesn’t really work for me – the big project still looms and stuns me into paralysis. 

Is the task distasteful?

Well, yes, in the sense that it is so daunting and overwhelming and soooo much is at stake. She recommends that you schedule a five minute work session with yourself, but that you have to sit down and work for those five minutes. Good advice, as I mentioned before, once I get started it is fairly easy for me to keep going.

Is the task trivial?

No.

And finally:

Is there no accountability in completing the task?

Well, that used to be the case, but it is getting embarrassing at this point. Plus I have missed so many self-imposed deadlines that my advisor has sort of lost the faith. She was, to say the least, pleasantly surprised to receive my introduction today. So I have new deadlines and here they are for all the world to see (if anybody cares to look):

  • Chapter 4 to advisor – April 11
  • Chapter 5 to advisor – May 4

Yikes! That is going to be tough. But I am resolute. Once those two chapters are in, we will talk further deadlines.

So what is my task for this week? I need to work at least one hour every single day on the dissertation.  Of course will aim to spend many more hours per day, especially since I have the week off, but I will only commit myself to one hour per day. I need to finish grading and prepare for teaching but I will make sure that I will not let that overwhelm my life or even one single day. Instead, My Work Will Come First.

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On the one hand I had a great day today – I’m off this week and SG went into the office so I had the house to myself after dropping buddy off at daycare. I made a pot of coffee, took a bath and then got to work on the introduction. I should be able to get it to my advisor by Friday which will be a HUGE weight off my shoulders. On the other hand I am feeling down today. I’m going in for an interview with a local liberal arts college for an adjunct position. I’ll be happy to get it but it just drives home that I didn’t get either of the two tenure-track positions I interviewed for. Part of me doesn’t even want to go tomorrow. But I will.

But let’s talk self-improvement experiment!

Book One: Leave Work Early

I have started with the Discipline chapter and resolved to work early in the morning on the diss introduction during this week. On Sunday I went back to bed after the early “shift” but I did work for two hours during Buddy’s nap. Monday I DID write for the entire morning after dropping the little guy at daycare. Tuesday (yesterday) was a lost cause. Today I didn’t start work until 11 am but I did work pretty consistently throughout the day. So overall I declare this portion of the experiment a success!

Book Two: Confessions of an Organized Homemaker

So my task for this week was to apply one (or several) of her discard/sort techniques to our massive clutter problem. So far I have only applied “The Quick Fix” which means that my office is slowly filling up with bags of stuff from the kitchen and the living room bookshelf from hell (I will post before and in-progress – and eventually after photos when I have  chance to download them).  I haven’t had much time yet to really to work on the clutter problem but hopefully I’ll have a little more time in the next couple of days. So thus far, I declare this part of the experiment a draw: good intentions, but little time for follow-through.

Book Three: Collect Raindrops

The words of inspiration – “Eat More Kale” which I interpreted to mean that I should pay more attention to what I eat and talk to SG about doing a Community Shared Agriculture (CSA). Well I have been keeping a food journal and I have been trying to make better choices. Yesterday was a wash – I am always lulled into making bad decisions at my parents, but today I made myself breakfast and lunch, including a salad – most unusual for me! And SG is not only into the CSA but is talking about starting a container garden. So so far, it is going fairly well. Another draw.

More to come at the end of the week.

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Big University (BU) may call this week if they are going to offer me the job, in fact they probably will. I don’t know if it will be at the beginning of the week or the end of the week, but if I don’t hear from them by Friday, I will probably lose heart and hope. I would really like this job…and the waiting is the hardest part.

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