Monday, March 7, 2016

Secondary Field Project: Now with Deadlines

So with all the service I've been involved in, I've been taking it easy on Secondary Field Project, pouring more of my efforts into a sabbatical application.  (I bet my chair has had my sabbatical hopes in hir's I-hope-Earnest-forgets-about-this list.)  But now I realize that the timelines for Important Service and Dreamy Sabbatical conflict, dragging the Secondary Field Project out into a timeline that is really difficult for me to get excited about.

So with all the annual review and post-tenure review processes that exist at my institution, I've been wondering whether I should have a back-up Primary Field Project in order to continue to show good scholarly progress.  (I'm fine for this year and next year, I'm pretty sure, with what I've currently got in the pipeline.  But I worry about the year after that.  Furthermore, Secondary Field Project is in a field notoriously difficult to publish in and even when things do get published, they take for frigging ever; I've been warned that this project may be difficult to place.  Plus Secondary Field is really not as preferred as Primary Field, though I could argue against this because the department documents do explicitly include Secondary Field.)  Then I thought about this more;  shouldn't I be able to argue the worth of my Secondary Field Project by talking about how it serves Primary Field as well as my teaching in my annual review just as well as a sabbatical application?  (Logistically, a sabbatical application is longer and devoted to the project; annual review is much shorter and more inclined to lists than long explanations, but it can be done.)  So I should be able to argue that working on Secondary Field Project is just as important and scholarly as working on articles in Primary Field, though I'd prefer to have enough scholarly effort (read: publications) each year to get a raise. 

So last night I went back into my sabbatical application and really looked at what there is of the project and what still needs to be done.  Last night I put together a project planning document, which I can't believe I hadn't done.  (I think this is because of my own history with Primary Field versus Secondary Field.  I've always had trouble estimating output in Secondary Field.  But I've always been pretty good about planning for work in Primary Field, which doesn't mean my estimates are any more correct, but the nature of Primary Field scholarship sort of forces me to be more organized.)   Having a project planning document makes the whole project feel more real.  (I think I've always resisted treating Secondary Field like Primary Field, but I now think that my maintenance of these differences have led to my feeling that Secondary Field is not as important as Primary Field.  The first person I need to convince with arguments is myself.)

I've made all sorts of different plans in the past with Secondary Field Project, but they got real when I was thinking about a sabbatical.  I have kept plodding, but not at at any steady pace.  The reasonable deadlines I've set in the past just are not meaningful or urgent or exciting enough to really motivate me on a daily and weekly basis.   But it's clear having hazy ideas of when this project is going to get done only works if one can really imagine that a sabbatical is in the offing.  Lackadaisical and "reasonable" goals haven't worked and giving myself space and time hasn't worked.  Spreading out the work in a reasonable way leaves me looking at a multi-year timeline that just makes me depressed.  So I'm trying something different.

Instead, I'm trying ambitious goals.  The purpose of these ambitious goals is to keep up my enthusiasm and sense of urgency to keep me working on a weekly and every-other-day basis.  So now I have a goal of 2y per month.  In order to manage 2y per month (which might be an unreasonable goal, but let's wait and see), I have to work at least 3 times a week.  If I manage this and my summer goals, I'll have the whole thing drafted by the end of the year.  Now, there's a ton of work after that, but a draft!  Done by the end of 2016!  That's a very exciting goal to me.   Even if I don't manage 2y per month and the draft done by the end of the year, I bet I'll still be better off than if I continue with the non-inspiring but reasonable goal.  It could also be that by the end of the year I realize that project is bigger than I think it is, and I won't be done with a first draft for another six months.  Still.

So this week, I'm intending to work Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday.  Or at least 3 out of 4. 

1 comment:

undine said...

Ambitious goals are the way to go. You can actually see your excitement about those build as you go through the post! Good luck.