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post #81 of 136

Ok, I need a kick in the pants to get things done.


I have a field trip guide due in 2 weeks that I haven't started and I just got 2 papers back that require edits - 1 minor and 1 major (like, I should rewrite it). 

And I have until June 10th to do it all, because after that I'm gone for 5 weeks.  I also have edits on a final, final report due June 30th that I can probably tie up from the field, but I'd prefer not to.


Goals this week:

1. Write, give, and grade final exam Written...Given...Grading...Done.

2. Finish minor edits on GSAT paper by Wed. Done

3. Finish revamping figure on GSAT by Th. Done except for one minor (but strangely time-consuming) edit

4. Get at least 2 sections of FT guide done by Friday in early first draft form, by writing on them at least 1 hour/day all week. 1 hr done on Mon and that was it for the week (boo!)

Edited by kaybee - 5/13/11 at 3:04pm
post #82 of 136

I would like to join this thread... anything that might help!  I'm a grad student (biology PhD), is that allowed?  I'm at a large state university, in my 5th year and trying to write the big bad dissertation.  My son is in daycare part time and my DH just finished med school; we have a brief interlude before residency and then life is going to get crazier than it's ever been.  


I'm working on chapter #2 (Ch.2) which is a review article and every time I sit down to do my "15 minutes of writing" I realize I have nothing to write about since I haven't even finished collecting the data. So then I switch to "data" mode which involves lit searching and multiple computer programs and it's a short hop from there to Something Unrelated.  I have a hard time staying on target.  I've heard the brain fog lifts when you stop breastfeeding but I haven't done that yet (DS just turned 1).  DS also still wakes up 2-3 times per night and I get up to change him/nurse him back to sleep.  DH was helping out with that (giving a bottle of breastmilk during the night) but I think my production is lagging because I pump but it never lets down any more.  So I get up a lot at night, and while it's getting better I feel like a year of serious sleep deprivation has really damaged my ability to think creatively and critically and to focus.  The crazy scheduling and racing around I feel like I can deal with, but the sleep deprivation is killing me!  I know there are other forums for that but I basically just accept it as a fact of life at this point.


So I will try to post goals on here as well.  If anyone has suggestions for getting "real work" done when feeling like a zombie, I would love to hear it.  I am really inspired by everything you all are accomplishing!  I may even try to start a writing group of grad students in my department.  


Goals for this week:

1. enter 5 papers/day into useful/not useful spreadsheet; extract figures from useful ones

2. come up with a framework for entering data from papers collected so far.

post #83 of 136
Thread Starter 

Welcome mamatrying!


One thing that's helped me is accountability, and another is making a clear space for writing.  "Space" sometimes is something physical, other times for me it's mental.  When my son was that age, I started getting up at 5 am {yawn} to get an hour's work in.  I would then spend my days making sure I had enough to write about the next morning.  I did find, however, that after a while I was not only burning the candle on both ends, but melting a little spot in the middle to burn from there too. 


Kaybee ~ yay for having two papers back from review!  Your tasks seem manageable this week.


Me:  Get UG thesis back to UG, get HPTEOS paper back to soon-to-graduate PhD student.



post #84 of 136

Mamatrying - I felt like it took an inordinate amount of time to "get my brain back" after having kids.  It does happen, eventually, but dang it's hard before it does.  


To help with focusing, I got a little timer for my computer.  I set it for 20 minutes and while it's running, I am not allowed to use the internet for anything.  I don't have to write.  I could data crunch or work on figures or whatever, but I can't check the internet.  Not even to go grab that paper that I need to reference.  Jot it down on a sheet of paper and move on.  When the 20 minutes are up, I do a quick email scan, grab the paper I made a note about, etc.  Then I set the timer again and resume working.  It really helps.  I find that "Something Unrelated" usually crops up when I am on-line.  


Goals help, too (says the person who worked on my FT guide last night from 9:30-10:30 because I said I'd do an hour a day...).


Ok, time for 20 more minutes...

post #85 of 136
Thread Starter 

Nods along:


Api Mac Timer works great for me, though my post-baby, nursing all night brain was not up to the 20 minute workout -- when I started I had the best success with 8-10 minute chunks, slowly working up to 20 minutes.  I also use leechblock on Firefox, where I can block certain time leeches.  On days I really struggle, I can put the whole computer into lockdown which won't let me defeat leechblock with my admin password until after a particular, preset time window.  Facebook emergencies just have to wait.

post #86 of 136
mamatrying--It took a few years for the fog to lift with #1. It hasn't lifted with #2 yet, but I can work through it if I really focus. One of the things that helps my writing is to leave "breadcrumbs" stating what I want to do the next time I open the document. I love being able to open it up and say "oh yeah, that's what I'm going to do today" because the other option is opening, staring at it, and wondering what in heck I'm doing with it anyhow. It's kind of like going downstairs and saying "now why did I come down here?" except that you'll have left yourself a note. lol.gif

This week's goals:
1. Edit the article.
2. Finish the research book
3. Grade finals
4. Calculate and turn in final grades
post #87 of 136


Goals for the last week:

1. enter 5 papers/day into useful/not useful spreadsheet; extract figures from useful ones Did most days

2. come up with a framework for entering data from papers collected so far. DONE

Goals for the coming week:

get over this cold and deal with 9 family members visiting for DH's med school graduation!

organize a "writing group" meeting of folks in my lab for next week

repot experimental seedlings


I'm kind of punting this week but I feel awful, I think DS is teething again, and it's going to be crazy with guests in town.


Thanks to everyone for the ideas and support.  It's hard to find that balance between having my old expectations (= depression at not meeting them) and just giving up entirely.  Obviously there's a lot of territory in between the two but I'm not familiar with it!  I think public goals are a great tool, though.  The hardest thing is just maintaining focus and staying on task, and I'm not even ON Facebook or the rest of that!

post #88 of 136
Finished all but the one thing I'm in this club for: editing the article. Bah.

I'm calling this a rest and recovery week and will get to it next week. (Or maybe surprise myself and do it this week? Stranger things have happened.)
post #89 of 136
Thread Starter 

I'm having an awful time managing my attention.  I've got 2 days next week that's pretty open, 2 the following, then I'm pretty much open for the summer.  I have a huge number of papers that are 80-90% done and I have to get them out.  I need to move myself to somewhere else that I cannot distract myself with the internet, old issues of EOS, or department politics.  The internet, unfortunately, is the biggest problem.  I keep defeating my management barriers.


So:  Where can I go that is pleasant (or at least not unpleasant) to work with NO free internet?  Having to pay for the internet is a big enough hurdle for me.  However, the free internet at most cafes now, the public library, the uni library, is too easy for me to hop on and then waste oodles of time.  I'm thinking 2-4 hours per day to be totally unplugged from the online world.



post #90 of 136


Goals for last week:

get over this cold and deal with 9 family members visiting for DH's med school graduation! Phew

organize a "writing group" meeting of folks in my lab for next week DONE (meeting for lunch today)

repot experimental seedlings DONE


Goals for the coming week:

1. 5 refs/day

2. Make a list of, and summarize papers dealing with MSC

3. Finish going through M 2004 Appendix for papers


Geofizz - I think you have identified a core issue for many of us!  "The internet is great/the worst thing ever."  You're right that most places that are pleasant to work in have free internet.  What about a more mom-and-pop diner kind of place rather than a coffee shop/cafe?  I thought about the laundromat for a while but I tend to people-watch so that would be too distracting for me.  


The library where I did my undergrad had an "Absolute Quiet Room" - seems like there's a need now for an "Internet-Free Room"!  

post #91 of 136

I'm so excited to find this list.  May I join?  I just finished my third year on the tenure track at a large university.  I'm in the social sciences and I am in moderate tenure trouble due to my small number of single author and/or peer reviewed articles in the past three years.  I have to use this summer to really push and get several pieces out.  I've been making some progress but it's so hard sometimes!  I have a 3 yo daughter who's in preschool from 8:30 to 3, 5 days a week and I should be able to make this be a very productive summer.  But, I'm also distracted as we're also TTC #2. (I spent all day yesterday reading posts on mothering, pregnancy websites and various blogs. Yikes.)  I would really welcome some support and structure.


I have a 2/2 teaching load and  3 needy grad students that I'm advising.  My summer goal (which started end of April for me) was to get the CP paper out under review (done), the Med paper out under review (done), revise and resubmit the MW paper (overdue and urgent), and write three others (with codes pending once I get through the MW paper).  I also sort of just committed to write a book chap on the MW data... we'll see.  Anyway, what I have learned in the past few years is that I absolutely need a plan and it needs to be broken down into small (bitesize?) pieces.  So, here are the goals I've been avoiding so far this week.  I really hate starting a new project or opening up a file I have looked at in awhile...


Goals for the week... oh dear the week is almost over...

1. Read (find?) reviews of MW paper--   Find-DONE, Read-DONE

2. Open MW paper-- DONE

3. Read MW paper  

3. Create revision plan for MW paper.

4. Read needy grad students diss prop draft

5. meet with other needy grad student -DONE

6. misc admin stuff in dept - PARTIALLY DONE


Edited by parsley - 5/27/11 at 7:55am
post #92 of 136

Welcome parsley!  You are more than welcome to join, and hopefully it will be helpful!


Geofizz - I don't know where to send you to escape the internet for a few hours/day.  Is there a museum somewhere with a sitting area?  Quiet, yet perhaps not wired?


I need to set some goals:

1. Finish reading the last, last draft of my GS's thesis! DONE

2. Finish location map for FTG. Done

3. Go through edits for BFR, at least 2 hours/day next week, finishing and/or assigning tasks to others by end of week. I managed 2 hours every day in the office but 1.  

4. Read through Sed paper reviews and edits. Not done - I've been avoiding it.

5. Get new GS up to speed so that he can be productive while I am gone for field work. I think he will be ok, but we're still gearing up.  

Adding to the list: Helping the former post-doc finish whip the paper into shape (he's done a great job so far).  Has to be done by the end of Tuesday. Done


I just passed a paper on to a former post-doc with the "you want to be first-author, it's yours!" tag.  He happily accepted, and I feel nothing but relief that he is going to be the one to whip it into shape in a very short amount of time.


I have 3 days in the office next week, 1.5 the following week, and then no childcare for ds1 the rest of next week (school is ending early). Then I leave for 3 weeks of field work overseas.  I should be freaking out here.  I'm trying to hunker down and get done what HAS to get done before I leave.


On to task #1!

Edited by kaybee - 6/3/11 at 7:46pm
post #93 of 136
Thread Starter 

I've gotten nagged about 5 (!) unfinished papers by collaborators, current and former students in the last 2 weeks.  I've dispensed with 2 by working through them quickly and getting the comments back to the former students, sent off an incomplete paper to a collaborator with a "the data suck, so please just focus on the calculations," and sent an incomplete paper with me as first author to a grad student with instructions to give *me* a to do list.  That puts be down to my soon-to-graduate PhD student's paper, which MS Word ate yesterday.  Thankfully I had a hard copy of most of the work I'd done, so all I really lost was my in-text comments.




Still looking for a focus management solution.  I've used LeechBlock in lockdown mode well for the last few days, but I can feel it not continuing as an effective strategy.  The other solution I've been working with is working on paper more, so that I don't have the computer right in front of me.

post #94 of 136

Hello, I am very pleasantly surprised to find this tribe - May I join in?. I am a postdoctoral researcher in a non-for-profit. Do not have our babe yet, we are expecting her arrival mid august. It feels like time is ticking to get long standing paper done before she comes. There are also other writing projects that needs attention; abstracts, outlines for other papers not to mention all the data crunching. Every time I try to sit down to write the current day's pressing deadlines guilt me over to doing more lab work or at least catering my reading towards it so nothing really substantial gets done. I think separating it into smaller/realistic(?) portions may be a more productive approach.


I have a pretty heavy research load with pressing deadlines so watching for that - here is the long list of writing I would like to get done:


- abstract for a fall meeting

- Do the second review on a paper that I hope not to see again

- Decide accepting a review on another paper

- Update the long standing paper MM, literature, edit discussion and send to co-authors

- Submit said paper 

- Outline the new paper that from this past summers data and decide if it is something worth fighting over with previous lab

- Outline and write the short paper  - last one from dissertation


realistically, before the baby:


- abstract for a fall meeting

- Do the second review on a paper that I hope not to see again

- Decide accepting a review on another paper

- Update the long standing paper MM, literature, edit discussion and send to co-authors

- Submit said paper


Please tell me, am I giving myself too much room for beging tired etc before the baby? I hear that it gets much more challenging to write after having one.


post #95 of 136

Hello, mamas.


elove, this is spooky. I was just coming to join this thread with a similar story. I am a postdoc at an R1, baby due in Oct, taking up a faculty position (not sure where yet, currently deciding between offers) after mat leave. I am working my tail off to get everything currently on my 'in prep' list onto my 'submitted' list before baby arrives so that I can relax on leave and still start said faculty position with a clean list and a full pipeline. I think the effort will pay off significantly as I start a new job with a baby, which is a huge motivating force for me. That and the fact that some of the stuff on my in prep list has been there for so long it's embarrassing at this point. I've already submitted a bunch of stuff and am continuing to work my way down the list. If I get way ahead (ha! wishful thinking at its best), I may hold some back and/or submit to journals whose review processes are known to be slow.


My writing-related targets for this coming week:


1. Finish paper review and conference abstract reviews.

2. Get final confirmations of references and affiliations, upload final appendices, and notify editor for D paper (already accepted, and yet, the paperwork continues ...)

3. Wrap up nearly complete HVD ms, send to co-author.

4. Bang out the last of half-finished VX ms, send to co-author.

5. Run regressions on PP data.

6. Get qual BC data loaded into NVivo and sent to RA so that she can get going on that.

7. Finish revisions on KT paper, send back to first author.


I don't take Memorial Day and, as a postdoc, have zero teaching load, but I think that is still plenty for a week!

post #96 of 136

Thanks for the welcomes and let me pass them along to elove and ~pi.  Having gotten my job, finished my dissertation while pregnant and then started as an assistant prof with a newborn, let me say that while it definitely gets harder to write once you have a baby (try impossible in some cases...) it can also be pretty stressful to set your goals too high for the time remaining before the baby is born.  So, like in so much of parenting, I think it's important to make sure you find the balance that is right for YOU.  And, that you can then find the peace to feel confident in the balance you find and the decisions you make. 


As I'm leaving to pick kid up from daycare in 10 minutes I wanted to check in about my goals for yesterday and today and set some for next week.  (This thread has already felt so helpful.  Thank you!)


Goals for this week (not bad :)

1. Read (find?) reviews of MW paper--   Find-DONE, Read-DONE

2. Open MW paper-- DONE

3. Read MW paper  --DONE

3. Create revision plan for MW paper.--DONE

4. Read needy grad students diss prop draft -NOT DONE

5. meet with other needy grad student -DONE

6. misc admin stuff in dept - PARTIALLY DONE


Goals for next week:

1. make significant progress on R&R for MW

2. brainstorm possibilities for MW2 chap

3. Read needy grad students diss prop draft

4. Do dept assessment thing


Have a great weekend.

Edited by parsley - 5/28/11 at 1:01pm
post #97 of 136
Thread Starter 

Nice work, ladies!


Multiple offers, ~pi?  Congrats!


Papers with people nagging me that are in the other person's court for now:


JK: sent return nag to JK just now

hol: quick go round on where to submit, and my request to him for a figure

LTR: awaiting comments from grad student

SW: sent paper to SW with massive to do list - she promises responses by next Wednesday

HRing: awaiting collaborator's grad student's draft


Papers with other people nagging me with the paper in my court:


HPTEOS: need to do another round of organization and editing.  Gave grad student a moderate to do list well within his abilities, but will take him a while.  Must get the editing done before the above come back at me, and get enough done to tackle the below:


The rest that are ~80% done

Bam: tighten up conclusions and send out to collaborators

AlH: figure out high P equilibration, rewrite code, send to collaborator.


No wonder I'm feeling overwhelmed.  There are several other papers in the >50% but less than 80% done level.

post #98 of 136

Thanks, Geofizz. I feel very, very lucky. (I definitely worked my tail off to put myself in a position to get lucky, but it paid off, which was in no way guaranteed.) I am tremendously grateful to have landed the postdoc I did. It has been really hard work, and hard on my family, but it was such a wonderful opportunity. I've had such a good time (so much fun research) and it is setting me up so well. Each offer I have can be wholly or at least partly attributed to the strength of recommendations that I got from my postdoc mentors. Paraphrasing, but not much, from one of my interviews: "Oh, PostdocMentor really likes you, so you must be good. I don't need to look at your CV."

post #99 of 136

Hi ladies!  I want to join!





Me: Full-time PhD candidate. In the process of switching departments due to advancement-to-candidacy drama. Just got my first grant through (yay) but now have to crank out an entire system in a year (not possible). The year after that I'm on the job market and defending.  DH is founding a start-up, so work-life balance priorities are defaulted in his favor.


Most pressing projects: Video game to teach about childbirth. I designed, coded, and deployed one such a game for my Master's degree but the grant is for a neater one -- I can elaborate if needed.

Today: See if programming an approximation to my vision is doable in 6 months.  Storyboard.  Try to get participants for my childbirth in video games study.

Next week's goal: Involve my undergrads more in my research.  They want to help, but I find I have a hard time letting them at it.  How do you do it?

post #100 of 136

~pi, that's awesome that you get to decide between two offers.  You gave me some excellent publication advice about a year ago (which I still haven't acted on, ugh, backlog!) and it's great to see that you are moving forward!  And congrats on #2 incoming.

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