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.