This fall, I'm trying to be more deliberate with my time, since so little of it can be dedicated to the various aspects of my life beyond my full-time job. I'm taking weekends for myself (mostly--though workdays, my primary time for fieldwork, takes place during my daughter's Saturday nap time), doing one thing at a time more regularly, and using more university resources to my advantage. This is largely inspired by several people people urging me to check out the work of Brené Brown, whose research on shame led her to an extensive exploration of vulnerability. I've read The Gifts of Imperfection, just started reading Daring Greatly, and have watched her TED talk (okay, talks). As a result, I'm building in more play, allowing more room for experimentation, and taking time to be still with just myself each day.
While I've begun the journey to a wholehearted life--a life where I'm comfortable inhabiting the space of imposter syndrome, and am confident in the work I'm contributing and enthusiastic about the questions I'm asking--my husband has been reading The Productivity Project. (Also: Apparently, when we hit our 30s, we became fascinated by "self-help" books & personal projects. Are we the most boring people? I'd worry about that, but I'm living my best life. [hair flip]) I've shared my Brown-inspired take-aways, and in turn, he's given me some tips from this book. My to-do lists look different these days. I don't let myself dump my whole brain onto the page. Or rather, not I'm not attaching to the to-do list the idea that I need to accomplish the entire set to feel good about my day. So, one way this fall is different: I set weekly goals. I set out three tasks I need to accomplish week's end, & I prioritize accomplishing them. I also work with Joe more explicitly to make sure we're hitting marks if they're around-the-house to-do items.
I also set three daily goals. Some days, it's just the basics: have a smoothie (my first in a series of steps to getting a more plant- and fruit-based diet), exercise for 15 minutes, write for 15 minutes. If I'm feeling like I'm flowing through my week, I change up those three: make dinner, or really dig into a question I've been butting up against in my writing and follow it down the research rabbit hole for as long as needed, or take my daughter out of the house for 1:1 time. The main idea is, I'm focusing less on the details & more on prioritizing what matters--and I let what matters vary by day. It's going well for now. I know that as the weather changes, I'll get called back to Netflix, or I'll get distracted a few days in a row from exercise. I'm not aiming for perfection. But I am aiming at not going off the rails when I hit a bump. Hit the bump, go over it, be gentle with myself, and ease back onto the track. Don't use the bump as a reason to fall apart.
Some external things that are helping my do that this semester:
- I have a writing group that I attend weekly for two hours. We offer solidarity, workshop ideas, & are still in some ways using Belcher's 12-week model to make progress on work.
- I'm using a spreadsheet to track daily progress--on a particular writing project, but also taking a bit of space to remind myself what progress I made on personal goals. It's a spreadsheet shared by the women in my writing group, so the encouragement & accountability make it more useful.
- I've set some hard deadlines, reinforced by two conferences, to urge me toward a drafted chapter of my manuscript. One is the Graduate Association for Food Studies' Future of Food Conference, where I'll do a first run through my theoretical argument. (I'm on the schedule--check it out for a quick preview.) Next up, my department has set up a workshop with two other institution's geography departments to share a weekend of nothing but helping a few graduate students better develop their articles. Last year, it was a great group. I'm excited to see what comes out of it, & to share my piece with the group for their comments.
- I've also set a goal destination for that manuscript & am using that to set tone and style. Going big with a bucket list publication: Gastronomica.
- I'm asking questions. I'm reaching out to people for feedback, idea sharing, solidarity, & advice. I haven't always been great at this, but being away from the classroom--and having given up my student office, since I have my full-time employee workspace--I've felt extra cut-off from academic life. I'm professional staff, & my colleagues do a very different style of work than I'm thinking about in my research. In some ways, the space has been good: it's made me consider what I really need & helped me reach out to those I'd most like to learn from.