Monthly Archives: June 2015

All My Rowdy Friends Go Conferencing With Me

All My Rowdy Friends Go Conferencing With Me {New Faculty}

I knew it! All this time I’d been waiting….attending….observing….being creepy….and now it’s happened. My friends and academia are in a “relationship” and my friends are my conference buddies and vice versa. It was only a matter of time really. The longer you spend in a field, the more people you meet. The more people you meet, the more people you’re bound to run in over and over again until out of sheer force of introvert awkwardness, you start a conversation.

My good friend from undergrad and I took similar yet different paths through life and low and behold, she’s on faculty too. In her first year, her university sent her to the same conference that a lot of my colleagues and I are attending. Instead of riding in the collective van, she and I rode down together to have a fun and networking-laden conference. It was a great time, but let’s not forget, it’s still four solid days of socializing non-stop with each other and all of the folks at the conference. Being the good adults that we are, we made it clear it was ok to be quiet.

Overall, it’s been really  nice seeing and getting to know folks in my profession over the last year. Not only do I have a better handle on what’s going on in our profession, but I have a better idea of some of the players at the table. These things give me a better idea as to what kind of research folks are doing and what kind of research I want to be doing. I haven’t got my mind wrapped around all of the things yet, but as the two major conferences for my field are now wrapped up, it’s time to marinate on some of those things and begin to formulate a plan for my professional road.

Conferences are a great way to connect with old friends, meet new ones, share meals at amazing places you can’t find where you live, and network for days. It’s always cool to run into people from your old alma mater(s) and catch up about what’s happening in and outside of work time. It’s fun for me now to banter with grad students (especially the ones that thing they’re REALLY smart) and you can spot them a mile away, which is sort of adorable in an “aawwww, there’s a baby fawn” kind of way.

One of my undergraduate researchers attended to present her work as well, it was her last hurrah with me and she’s off to grad school in a few weeks. It was really nice to see her, spend some time with her, and stand back and have a “super proud” advising moment as she talked the talk with faculty  about her research. **sniff, sniff**

Conferences can be as good as you make them. The end. Attend the sessions, figure out what interests you, and go forth and conference!

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Summer Habits Worth Keeping

Summer Habits {New Faculty}

It’s officially summer! Well, in my neck of the woods it is. Town has settled into what will be the norm, students are stressing over summer classes on Yik Yak, and there’s enough construction going on to build a whole new campus by Aug. 15th. I discussed my summer schedule last week but wanted to follow up with one more post about how to set up to be more successful over the summer. As I draft this post, it’s about 9:45 a.m. and I’m at the local coffee shop. Having just enjoyed a breakfast sandwich and currently listening to them staff vacuum out the roaster, I cannot help but think about how much I’m enjoying the ambiance of the white noise. (A shop vac is totally white noise and necessary for cleaning a roaster).

I need to have some schedule disruption to keep myself on my toes. Schedule disruption can come in the form of a change of scenery, a change of pace, or a change in the schedule as a whole. Changing up the schedule helps me in numerous ways:

  • I can plan my work and writing. I have a trip next week, guess what I’m doing this week? Getting ready to be out of the office. Having a deadline (or a trip) helps me get ahead by planning more efficiently.
  • I’m choosing different days to swim (or other activities) each week (yes, I realize those choices are limited), but since it’s summer, I can take a little bit longer of a leash and swim when I want or feel like it, not when my calendar dictates me to do so.
  • I head to a coffee shop or somewhere different at least one half day a week. I like certain places, but I also know I need to be disrupted a little bit too.

It sounds a bit silly, but I grew up on a schedule at school and with extra-curricular’s, but I also grew up on a working dairy farm where changing things up was the norm. If the hay was dry, you baled it; if it was going to rain, you made silage. If a cow was calving, you helped her, even if that meant it was the middle of milking time. Schedule disruption has worked for me because it keeps me on my toes cognitively. I was in a rut this spring and it was largely due to the same schedule with no changes whatsoever. My life was over scheduled and I experienced burn out.

On the opposite side of the coin, I like the schedule too. I like writing group and having goals. I’ve already polished, edited, and submitted two manuscripts since classes ended. I’ve coded 2/3 of another data set and have begun piecing together that manuscript and while it’s in its’ infancy, the pages are coming together in my google doc. My goal is to submit that before summer sessions end. I’ve reached out to collaborators to get other projects polished and finished. I’ve set aside time for the tasks and also written in my calendar ‘VACATION’ to make sure I give myself a break. I’m taking an unprecedented amount of vacation this summer (for me) and am looking forward to it all.

As the summer settles in and the long days begin, remember to keep things fresh for yourself. Skip out an hour early to enjoy the day, head in an hour late to enjoy the pristine mornings, and do what works to keep your head in the writing game. Find your own happy-medium with all of it, remember that I’m just telling you what works for me. Being over scheduled killed me this spring, traveling for a month straight does the opposite in a different way. Since I live alone, I can always tell how much I travel based on how much garbage I make. May = 1 bag of garbage. My house is currently enjoying having someone in it for at least half of a month and I’m enjoying a nice 50/50 split between scheduled and unscheduled time.

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Manageable Summer Goals: A Summer Day

A Summer Day {New Faculty}


A full week into summer and I’m still riding with my training wheels. My Monday Morning Motivator email was titled, “You Should Be Writing” and darn it, it was right. I’ve set myself up well. Given myself manageable and realistic expectations. Now, just the hard part: meeting them.

A colleague has organized a summer writing group and I gladly signed up. It begins next week. I’ve been trying to set myself up each day with 1-3 realistic goals. For example, I did some data analysis this morning to help a student get a poster done and sent to the printer. The data had been transcribed and coded and just needed to be more organized to help pull out the major themes. Time spent: ~1.5-2 hours.

I spent a good thirty minutes this morning doing some housekeeping. I still had not submitted receipts from a trip a few weeks ago and wanted to get those off my desk. I had also neglected answering email for a few days (it was the weekend) and took a few minutes to get that done. Time spent: ~30 minutes.

After a lunch swim (yay for summer swim time), I sat down and coded for another two hours. I cannot code for more than a few hours a day. It makes my brain fuzzy, it makes my eyes hurt, and it’s one of those “all consuming” research activities. Instead of setting myself up to fail, I’ve given myself one document (roughly 30 pages) to code at a time. I have to get up and take breaks while coding too. I just can’t sit there and power through like some can. I will say that not every page of every document is “codeable” as some are lists and graphics, but each one will take at least two hours. Time spent: ~2.5-3 hours.

What else did I get done today? Quite a few things. I organized another mess of data into readable, accessible, and easy to find for all the researchers folders in the google drive. I spent some time on that because we’ll reference that for the rest of the summer and spending time on it now means it will hopefully be easier for me (and everyone else) for the next few weeks. It made my organized brain very happy. Time spent: at least another hour.

Does that equal EIGHT? NO. No, it does not. I stopped before 4:30 p.m. since a grad student stuck her head in to say hello and I recall looking at the clock. I said I was at a natural “stop point” for the day and didn’t want to pick anything else up since I knew I had to leave soon. She then “busy contested” me and said how she’s got 60 hours of work every week. You go tender grad student, you go….right out of my office….I don’t play that game.

Why am I sharing my day with you? For a few reasons. It might strike you odd that I’m not counting each minute, that I’m swimming during lunch, and most importantly, I’m making the time I am working QUALITY WORK TIME. No distractions. Minimal “phone time” or “social media time” are involved during these periods. There are still days when I can’t put a sentence together, but these are days when I have a million meetings or I’m fatigued or distracted. I started closing my door as well this week. Why? For uninterrupted time to myself. I feel no shame. People know how to find me.

Summer time is quality time if you can figure out how you like to work. My colleagues are in and out during the summer and we each have our own style of work. Travel and vacation are scheduled in there as well, but each of us is figuring out how to get things done. I hope that all of my summer work days are this fruitful but I know some just won’t be and that’s ok.

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