I Think I Have a Research Plan Maybe?

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Well dear friends, the abstract didn’t happen. I think the biggest problem was that I just waited way too long to start working on it. I think the stuff that I already had as far as research materials was not suited to what I was envisioning working on. I think the idea is too big for a conference paper and I couldn’t figure out how to narrow down an aspect of it without it sounding totally stupid or being able to make it make sense. And granted, I know that I should have at least thrown my hat in the ring to try, but I didn’t have the familiarity I needed with part of the topic to be able to wing it, which is what was happening. And since The J and I had already decided that since the conference this year is within driving distance (or we could take the train), we are going to go to the conference anyway (I don’t know if I get money just to go and not present), that it didn’t seem like that much of a big deal that I don’t have anything to present. I need to go, but at least this year I’ll get to enjoy the conference and I won’t be holed up in my hotel room writing the paper and missing networking opportunities and other panels. Plus the J has never been to the city where the conference is at, so that allows us to do some touristy things, too, and enjoy ourselves rather than having me be a stresspot and him going off and exploring by himself, we can enjoy the conference and the city.

I am bummed about this though that I couldn’t pull it together. However, I did wait too long to really work on this or start working on this, so really, I can accept responsibility for my actions and move on, or I can sit here and moan and talk bad about myself and make matters worse, and I want to stop doing that. I’ve already had a bad week–this is the first week that I’ve actually just fallen apart on WW, which was completely married to the weather and not being able to get out and run like I wanted to, throw a massive helping of PMS in there, and then that fucking raccoon (which seems to have gone away temporarily–he must have heard us talking about the traps), and well, I’ve just had a bad week. The snow and the snow running gear left me with the massively wicked blisters and the long runs on the snow have the same effect as long runs on the sand when one is not accustomed to running on such terrain–I have the beginning of a shin splint which has kept me off the running for a couple of days. And since I’ve only gotten two days of running in this week, I can definitely feel a shift in my mood. For my emotional, physical, and mental health, I clearly need to run.

Anyway, what I’m trying really hard to do is not make myself feel worse about things or about myself. And you know, all the way back when I was working on my comps (and I don’t know why I didn’t do this for my diss), I would run in between reading and writing sessions. Sometimes it was better to just work out first–not only did I get it out of the way and didn’t have it hanging over my head, but it just kind of set the tone for the writing and reading I had ahead of me for the day. However, unless the J gets a job, I think what I might do is work for a couple of hours, then work out, then work again so that he can sleep in but still workout with me. If he gets a job, then he might have to get up early and work out first thing, too, before work.

While I don’t want to be super restrictive with "I must do this at this time," I think I’m going to need to make a schedule, for both mine and The J’s sake. Especially if he isn’t working, then we can set certain times for "work only" because he needs to do homework, too. And if he does have to work during the day and do homework at night, then I can sit and read more. But I think if we decide, "okay, this block of time is for work" then that will keep both of us from annoying each other or from me, especially, feeling like I have no time to work on my stuff.

I think for now, I’m going to shoot for 6-10 hours of research a week. That seems like a lot, so if it turns out to be too much of a burden, or too hard to stick to, I give myself permission to reevaluate the week after the marathon (that would be about three weeks after school starts) and make any adjustments to the schedule needed rather than a) quitting the whole thing all together, and/or b) beating myself up for being a loser and not able to stick to a simple schedule. This also leaves my T & TH afternoons and evenings open to prep for the novel class and I can also read/prep on Sat and Sun mornings. What I think is going to be key here, not just for my ability to get research done, but to maintain a sane schedule is to really take advantage of the time I’m forced to be on campus on M & W and get as much prep and grading done there as I can. The other key is going to be to stick to a time goal without worrying about how much gets done at any given time but rather that I work for that time.

This is what I’m shooting for–since I’m an early morning person and nearly always get up around this time, even on days off, I think this will work, to start Jan 25th:

T: 6-8am; then shoot for another 2 hours from 11-1
R: 6-8am; then shoot for another 2 hours from 11-1
F: 6-8 am

Then three weeks after the semester starts, I’ll re-evaluate my work load and see if I’m meeting the additional 11-1 goals and adjust accordingly. Then I’ll come back after another three weeks and see how that is going. At least this way I can read or write for a couple of hours, go workout, clear my head, work some stuff through if I need to or just completely forget about what I’m doing, then I can come back to it with a clear head.We’ll see. If it doesn’t work, then I try to figure out something that does.

What will I work on? Turning that conference paper from last May that I was super excited about into an article which is cool because that means I get to watch horror movies as part of my research (but the watching of the movies won’t count in those set research hours), so yay!

Now I think I need to go read some stuff that I put on my first draft of my syllabus to see if I can actually teach it or if I need to pick different short stories.

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24 responses »

  1. Scheduling research/writing
    Ok, I’m going to give you a piece of unsolicited advice that I gave to another friend a few months ago. You know I’m a pretty consistently productive researcher/writer, right? Even though I’m at a teaching-centered institution with lots of service demands? The trick to *consistency* for me (and, in my experience, it’s consistency that leads to publication), and for not feeling bad about myself, is setting really, really tiny but achievable goals for myself. As I look at what you’re proposing in terms of schedule, what I see is an *ideal* schedule that, in all likelihood, you won’t be able to maintain consistently. So my piece of unsolicited advice is maybe that you need to work up to this ideal schedule.
    Maybe your goal for Jan/Feb when you get back should be just to spend Friday 6-8 AM on the research – no ifs, ands, or buts. Then, once you achieve that for a few weeks, you set a goal where you add in Tuesdays from 6-8 AM. And so on. Of course you can do *more* than that if the mood strikes you, but if your goal is one day a week that is non-negotiable, then you get to feel good about yourself even if that’s all you do. In contrast, if you have the ideal schedule, and then one week you have a lot of prep or grading or something, you’re not going to achieve the ideal schedule – not because you’re a bad person, but because ideals are difficult for *anybody* to maintain for any stretch of time. But once you run off the rails, one week is more likely to become two, etc.
    If it makes you feel better, I plotted out my general schedule for research for the spring and it’s seriously like 3 hours a week. So I’m taking for myself the advice that I’m giving you. Anyway, obviously it’s up to you, but when I looked at your proposed schedule, all I could think to myself was that I would never be able to keep to such a schedule myself (though I also would never be able to train for and run a marathon, because I am wimpy 🙂 ).

  2. Scheduling research/writing

    Ok, I’m going to give you a piece of unsolicited advice that I gave to another friend a few months ago. You know I’m a pretty consistently productive researcher/writer, right? Even though I’m at a teaching-centered institution with lots of service demands? The trick to *consistency* for me (and, in my experience, it’s consistency that leads to publication), and for not feeling bad about myself, is setting really, really tiny but achievable goals for myself. As I look at what you’re proposing in terms of schedule, what I see is an *ideal* schedule that, in all likelihood, you won’t be able to maintain consistently. So my piece of unsolicited advice is maybe that you need to work up to this ideal schedule.

    Maybe your goal for Jan/Feb when you get back should be just to spend Friday 6-8 AM on the research – no ifs, ands, or buts. Then, once you achieve that for a few weeks, you set a goal where you add in Tuesdays from 6-8 AM. And so on. Of course you can do *more* than that if the mood strikes you, but if your goal is one day a week that is non-negotiable, then you get to feel good about yourself even if that’s all you do. In contrast, if you have the ideal schedule, and then one week you have a lot of prep or grading or something, you’re not going to achieve the ideal schedule – not because you’re a bad person, but because ideals are difficult for *anybody* to maintain for any stretch of time. But once you run off the rails, one week is more likely to become two, etc.

    If it makes you feel better, I plotted out my general schedule for research for the spring and it’s seriously like 3 hours a week. So I’m taking for myself the advice that I’m giving you. Anyway, obviously it’s up to you, but when I looked at your proposed schedule, all I could think to myself was that I would never be able to keep to such a schedule myself (though I also would never be able to train for and run a marathon, because I am wimpy 🙂 ).

  3. Scheduling research/writing

    Ok, I’m going to give you a piece of unsolicited advice that I gave to another friend a few months ago. You know I’m a pretty consistently productive researcher/writer, right? Even though I’m at a teaching-centered institution with lots of service demands? The trick to *consistency* for me (and, in my experience, it’s consistency that leads to publication), and for not feeling bad about myself, is setting really, really tiny but achievable goals for myself. As I look at what you’re proposing in terms of schedule, what I see is an *ideal* schedule that, in all likelihood, you won’t be able to maintain consistently. So my piece of unsolicited advice is maybe that you need to work up to this ideal schedule.

    Maybe your goal for Jan/Feb when you get back should be just to spend Friday 6-8 AM on the research – no ifs, ands, or buts. Then, once you achieve that for a few weeks, you set a goal where you add in Tuesdays from 6-8 AM. And so on. Of course you can do *more* than that if the mood strikes you, but if your goal is one day a week that is non-negotiable, then you get to feel good about yourself even if that’s all you do. In contrast, if you have the ideal schedule, and then one week you have a lot of prep or grading or something, you’re not going to achieve the ideal schedule – not because you’re a bad person, but because ideals are difficult for *anybody* to maintain for any stretch of time. But once you run off the rails, one week is more likely to become two, etc.

    If it makes you feel better, I plotted out my general schedule for research for the spring and it’s seriously like 3 hours a week. So I’m taking for myself the advice that I’m giving you. Anyway, obviously it’s up to you, but when I looked at your proposed schedule, all I could think to myself was that I would never be able to keep to such a schedule myself (though I also would never be able to train for and run a marathon, because I am wimpy 🙂 ).

  4. Scheduling research/writing

    Ok, I’m going to give you a piece of unsolicited advice that I gave to another friend a few months ago. You know I’m a pretty consistently productive researcher/writer, right? Even though I’m at a teaching-centered institution with lots of service demands? The trick to *consistency* for me (and, in my experience, it’s consistency that leads to publication), and for not feeling bad about myself, is setting really, really tiny but achievable goals for myself. As I look at what you’re proposing in terms of schedule, what I see is an *ideal* schedule that, in all likelihood, you won’t be able to maintain consistently. So my piece of unsolicited advice is maybe that you need to work up to this ideal schedule.

    Maybe your goal for Jan/Feb when you get back should be just to spend Friday 6-8 AM on the research – no ifs, ands, or buts. Then, once you achieve that for a few weeks, you set a goal where you add in Tuesdays from 6-8 AM. And so on. Of course you can do *more* than that if the mood strikes you, but if your goal is one day a week that is non-negotiable, then you get to feel good about yourself even if that’s all you do. In contrast, if you have the ideal schedule, and then one week you have a lot of prep or grading or something, you’re not going to achieve the ideal schedule – not because you’re a bad person, but because ideals are difficult for *anybody* to maintain for any stretch of time. But once you run off the rails, one week is more likely to become two, etc.

    If it makes you feel better, I plotted out my general schedule for research for the spring and it’s seriously like 3 hours a week. So I’m taking for myself the advice that I’m giving you. Anyway, obviously it’s up to you, but when I looked at your proposed schedule, all I could think to myself was that I would never be able to keep to such a schedule myself (though I also would never be able to train for and run a marathon, because I am wimpy 🙂 ).

  5. Another unsolicited piece of advice from me would be: at some point, start writing. It has happened to me that I’ve done so much research that I loose track of what my idea was on the first time. Granted, that can bring a new approach to a topic that it is more interesting, but for the most part, when I try to then start writing, I am already lost. So put some things in paper, even if they are disconnected paragraphs that don’t make sense to anybody but you, and build from there.

  6. Another unsolicited piece of advice from me would be: at some point, start writing. It has happened to me that I’ve done so much research that I loose track of what my idea was on the first time. Granted, that can bring a new approach to a topic that it is more interesting, but for the most part, when I try to then start writing, I am already lost. So put some things in paper, even if they are disconnected paragraphs that don’t make sense to anybody but you, and build from there.

  7. Another unsolicited piece of advice from me would be: at some point, start writing. It has happened to me that I’ve done so much research that I loose track of what my idea was on the first time. Granted, that can bring a new approach to a topic that it is more interesting, but for the most part, when I try to then start writing, I am already lost. So put some things in paper, even if they are disconnected paragraphs that don’t make sense to anybody but you, and build from there.

  8. Another unsolicited piece of advice from me would be: at some point, start writing. It has happened to me that I’ve done so much research that I loose track of what my idea was on the first time. Granted, that can bring a new approach to a topic that it is more interesting, but for the most part, when I try to then start writing, I am already lost. So put some things in paper, even if they are disconnected paragraphs that don’t make sense to anybody but you, and build from there.

  9. hooray for making plans and schedules! don’t forget that reading articles for this project counts too!
    I need to go make a research plan too. I also need to fight off this stupid cold that is sapping my energy.
    -sisyphus

  10. hooray for making plans and schedules! don’t forget that reading articles for this project counts too!

    I need to go make a research plan too. I also need to fight off this stupid cold that is sapping my energy.

    -sisyphus

  11. hooray for making plans and schedules! don’t forget that reading articles for this project counts too!

    I need to go make a research plan too. I also need to fight off this stupid cold that is sapping my energy.

    -sisyphus

  12. hooray for making plans and schedules! don’t forget that reading articles for this project counts too!

    I need to go make a research plan too. I also need to fight off this stupid cold that is sapping my energy.

    -sisyphus

  13. Unless I say otherwise, assume that I’m almost always looking for advice whenever I put something up that involves me trying to figure out something, even if I don’t actually ask, so it’s cool. 🙂
    Crazy, honestly, I was hoping you’d weigh in on this because I figured you’d be the one who would know if this was an unreasonable schedule, which I guess I could have just asked you about it. 🙂 I had started off with an ideal of 10 but thought that might be setting me up for failure and then set the 6 with the optional 4. I think right now if I only have it set up as one day, then I know myself. I’m going to think of it as kind of a throw away, which is ridiculous, but I think, in all honesty, if I have at least two days with some time set aside that is non-negotiable, that I’m more likely to think of myself as actually being productive. So I’ll compromise. Tuesdays and Fridays from 6-8 am, non-negotiable. That leaves me the rest of the morning and afternoon on most TRs to catch up on prep work. And then that leaves me all morning and all day Friday to workout, run errands, read if I want so I don’t have to spend all weekend reading. I feel confident at this point that four hours during the week at that time on those days right now is going to be my best bet. The J won’t be up at that time on either of those days; and it won’t cut into any kind of workout issue or anything like that either. What do you think?
    Spanish Prof–I do do that–writing–while I’m reading. Usually I save the last 15 minutes to just free write or whatever so that whatever ideas that pop up while I’m reading or taking notes, I spend 15 minutes at least just writing at then end of my research sessions.While stuff gets duplicated a lot when I do this, I find that with that, each time the idea gets a little bit more developed or I just kind of write what I thought about what I read, and that helps me a lot actually.
    Sisyphus, I’m sorry about your cold! I might try to come up with something for the general call or see if I can “liberate” my idea from the constrains of the panel subject that I was shooting for just to see what happens, but now that I’m looking forward to going to the conference to enjoy it and excited about trying to turn the paper from last year into an article, I think I might want to focus on just the article. Now, if the conference were going to be in SF, that’s a different story! So next year I have to work hard to get that idea going early! Are you going to go to the conference?

    • I think that sounds like a do-able goal, sister 🙂 And remember: you can always do more than that or add to that goal after you’ve been achieving it for a while.

    • I think that sounds like a do-able goal, sister 🙂 And remember: you can always do more than that or add to that goal after you’ve been achieving it for a while.

    • I think that sounds like a do-able goal, sister 🙂 And remember: you can always do more than that or add to that goal after you’ve been achieving it for a while.

    • I think that sounds like a do-able goal, sister 🙂 And remember: you can always do more than that or add to that goal after you’ve been achieving it for a while.

  14. Unless I say otherwise, assume that I’m almost always looking for advice whenever I put something up that involves me trying to figure out something, even if I don’t actually ask, so it’s cool. 🙂

    Crazy, honestly, I was hoping you’d weigh in on this because I figured you’d be the one who would know if this was an unreasonable schedule, which I guess I could have just asked you about it. 🙂 I had started off with an ideal of 10 but thought that might be setting me up for failure and then set the 6 with the optional 4. I think right now if I only have it set up as one day, then I know myself. I’m going to think of it as kind of a throw away, which is ridiculous, but I think, in all honesty, if I have at least two days with some time set aside that is non-negotiable, that I’m more likely to think of myself as actually being productive. So I’ll compromise. Tuesdays and Fridays from 6-8 am, non-negotiable. That leaves me the rest of the morning and afternoon on most TRs to catch up on prep work. And then that leaves me all morning and all day Friday to workout, run errands, read if I want so I don’t have to spend all weekend reading. I feel confident at this point that four hours during the week at that time on those days right now is going to be my best bet. The J won’t be up at that time on either of those days; and it won’t cut into any kind of workout issue or anything like that either. What do you think?

    Spanish Prof–I do do that–writing–while I’m reading. Usually I save the last 15 minutes to just free write or whatever so that whatever ideas that pop up while I’m reading or taking notes, I spend 15 minutes at least just writing at then end of my research sessions.While stuff gets duplicated a lot when I do this, I find that with that, each time the idea gets a little bit more developed or I just kind of write what I thought about what I read, and that helps me a lot actually.

    Sisyphus, I’m sorry about your cold! I might try to come up with something for the general call or see if I can “liberate” my idea from the constrains of the panel subject that I was shooting for just to see what happens, but now that I’m looking forward to going to the conference to enjoy it and excited about trying to turn the paper from last year into an article, I think I might want to focus on just the article. Now, if the conference were going to be in SF, that’s a different story! So next year I have to work hard to get that idea going early! Are you going to go to the conference?

  15. Unless I say otherwise, assume that I’m almost always looking for advice whenever I put something up that involves me trying to figure out something, even if I don’t actually ask, so it’s cool. 🙂

    Crazy, honestly, I was hoping you’d weigh in on this because I figured you’d be the one who would know if this was an unreasonable schedule, which I guess I could have just asked you about it. 🙂 I had started off with an ideal of 10 but thought that might be setting me up for failure and then set the 6 with the optional 4. I think right now if I only have it set up as one day, then I know myself. I’m going to think of it as kind of a throw away, which is ridiculous, but I think, in all honesty, if I have at least two days with some time set aside that is non-negotiable, that I’m more likely to think of myself as actually being productive. So I’ll compromise. Tuesdays and Fridays from 6-8 am, non-negotiable. That leaves me the rest of the morning and afternoon on most TRs to catch up on prep work. And then that leaves me all morning and all day Friday to workout, run errands, read if I want so I don’t have to spend all weekend reading. I feel confident at this point that four hours during the week at that time on those days right now is going to be my best bet. The J won’t be up at that time on either of those days; and it won’t cut into any kind of workout issue or anything like that either. What do you think?

    Spanish Prof–I do do that–writing–while I’m reading. Usually I save the last 15 minutes to just free write or whatever so that whatever ideas that pop up while I’m reading or taking notes, I spend 15 minutes at least just writing at then end of my research sessions.While stuff gets duplicated a lot when I do this, I find that with that, each time the idea gets a little bit more developed or I just kind of write what I thought about what I read, and that helps me a lot actually.

    Sisyphus, I’m sorry about your cold! I might try to come up with something for the general call or see if I can “liberate” my idea from the constrains of the panel subject that I was shooting for just to see what happens, but now that I’m looking forward to going to the conference to enjoy it and excited about trying to turn the paper from last year into an article, I think I might want to focus on just the article. Now, if the conference were going to be in SF, that’s a different story! So next year I have to work hard to get that idea going early! Are you going to go to the conference?

  16. Unless I say otherwise, assume that I’m almost always looking for advice whenever I put something up that involves me trying to figure out something, even if I don’t actually ask, so it’s cool. 🙂

    Crazy, honestly, I was hoping you’d weigh in on this because I figured you’d be the one who would know if this was an unreasonable schedule, which I guess I could have just asked you about it. 🙂 I had started off with an ideal of 10 but thought that might be setting me up for failure and then set the 6 with the optional 4. I think right now if I only have it set up as one day, then I know myself. I’m going to think of it as kind of a throw away, which is ridiculous, but I think, in all honesty, if I have at least two days with some time set aside that is non-negotiable, that I’m more likely to think of myself as actually being productive. So I’ll compromise. Tuesdays and Fridays from 6-8 am, non-negotiable. That leaves me the rest of the morning and afternoon on most TRs to catch up on prep work. And then that leaves me all morning and all day Friday to workout, run errands, read if I want so I don’t have to spend all weekend reading. I feel confident at this point that four hours during the week at that time on those days right now is going to be my best bet. The J won’t be up at that time on either of those days; and it won’t cut into any kind of workout issue or anything like that either. What do you think?

    Spanish Prof–I do do that–writing–while I’m reading. Usually I save the last 15 minutes to just free write or whatever so that whatever ideas that pop up while I’m reading or taking notes, I spend 15 minutes at least just writing at then end of my research sessions.While stuff gets duplicated a lot when I do this, I find that with that, each time the idea gets a little bit more developed or I just kind of write what I thought about what I read, and that helps me a lot actually.

    Sisyphus, I’m sorry about your cold! I might try to come up with something for the general call or see if I can “liberate” my idea from the constrains of the panel subject that I was shooting for just to see what happens, but now that I’m looking forward to going to the conference to enjoy it and excited about trying to turn the paper from last year into an article, I think I might want to focus on just the article. Now, if the conference were going to be in SF, that’s a different story! So next year I have to work hard to get that idea going early! Are you going to go to the conference?

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