Monday, April 11, 2011

A Whole New Me: Organizing

Inspired by my new schedule (with Tot in daycare another day per week) and feeling like I really need to take control over my life and my job (therapy is probably helping with this a lot), I've been doing things that really I should've done a long time ago, like organizing my time.

Taking a hard look at the work I need to get done each week, including my seemingly never-ending service commitments, helped me to say no to a campus-wide venture that, while important in its own way, would probably not do much for me tenure-wise. (It's more of a staff project than a faculty project.) But more important than any tenure issue in my decision was really putting Much Needed Article on the front burner and thinking carefully about how many hours a week I need to get it out in the next few months. I also need other things: I emailed a grad school friend I used to work with a lot and begged zie to please read it. So now I have a deadline of when I need to turn it in (though really this friend would look at it if it were in pieces -- that's how good of a respondent zie is) and a good reader in my field who is well-acquainted with my work and central questions (unlike anyone around SU). And it turns out that the workshop that I'm going to at the end of June also wants us to circulate papers, so I'm hoping to get it to Grad School Colleague (who deserves a better moniker) in time for me to revise it and turn it around for the workshop. I don't know whether that will really happen, but feeling like I have an immediate and real audience for this piece will, I think, help me get it out the door.

So I've organized my time and days, and this is my first research-focused day. I've been looking forward to it all weekend, when I spent some late-night time making notes for this article. Unfortunately, there is a yoga class in about a half hour that I really need to take as well. AL got me a yoga pass two months ago now because that's what I wanted for Valentine's Day. But then I got that back sprain and didn't go all this time. The last time I was at the doctor's, she said that if I am not going to take the muscle relaxers because I'm still breastfeeding, then I need stretch a lot. What is yoga if not stretching a lot? So I'm going to break up my day by going to yoga, which is also incredibly good for me. (Though my back feels terrible -- stupid bed.) And good for my brain.

I've been in a terrible mood, one that makes me suspect that I'm depressed. I'm back to trying to work with Write Your Journal Article in 12 Weeks (though I'm going to try to do it about 8 weeks), and there was a blurb in there about depression and how the problem is that once you're depressed, no matter what the cause, you begin to react to every situation as if it's a stressful one. I certainly have been like that recently. Especially at work. Not only at work though. Luckily I have therapy later in the afternoon and can focus on all that there.

It's amazing to me how long it's been since I really tried to organize my time. Since I had Tot, I've felt like my life is running me, not like I actually run my life. This is silly because I've read Academic Self many times and the author extols the virtues of organizing and planning -- especially to keep productive and prevent burnout. Obviously, I haven't read this book in the last couple years. Just having a plan for my week (which has to be adjusted weekly because I've never been able to keep a schedule unless it's super-flexible) makes me feel more on top of it all, more like a professional. Not someone running from class to meeting to service deadline.


Horace said...

It's great to hear this optimism back in your voice.

But isn't it incredible how much parenting often runs counter to an organized, planned schedule? I think there's a lot packed into that notion, one about gender politics, about standards of success being those that can be organized, and about the way we value different kinds of work.

I've been struggling with a lot of these same questions lately, too (it doesn't help that the author of The Academic Self is my department chair). Still, I'm heartened to hear that you've at least got a foothold on them. Here's to turning that foothold into a real upward boost!

Earnest English said...

Horace! I burst out laughing when I read that he is your department chair!!!

While I am assuming a great deal about him (though I have some knowledge of him from other sources besides the book because I was once affiliated with one of his former departments), I don't think he knows much about how parenting "runs counter to an organized, planned schedule," as you wrote so well. But I totally agree with you. The only time I can plan is the time Tot is in daycare. (Heck, I can't even manage to get that kid to bed at a consistent time -- the organization of time has NEVER been my strong suit.) Also, I know a LOT of ADD people in the academy. Plans and consistent scheduling really have to be more fluid than he allows for those of us coping with more jumbled heads than, apparently, his.

But dude! You've managed to write a book pretty recently! How great is THAT? That's pretty inspiring to me!

Tiger Mom PhD said...

I'm glad you seem to be figuring some things out and that you will be able to talk to someone about maybe being depressed. I am amazed at how hard it is to be organized since becoming a mom. Everything seems so unpredictable. I scheduled extra daycare this week to get everything done and Little T is sick so it doesn't really matter. I never expected the disorganization -I'm not sure anyone could have explained it to me. But I am happy that you seem to be figuring some of it out and that things are looking up for you. Feeling in control is so important. Good luck on the article and take the time for yoga - it will be beneficial for sure.

Anonymous said...

This is such a great and thoughtful post. Kudos to you. Both the therapy and the yoga are fabulous ideas (both of which I should get back to myself and now you've inspired me). Hugs on the owie and hope it heals quickly.