February 13th is my start-over date

i-9dc84d4d9156dccb30d5f62466b4219a-swblocks.jpgAccording to my self-declared theme, 2009 was supposed to be the year of sustainability. The year when I planned to “focus on trying to live my life that is sustainable in the long run for my body, my mental health, my family and my career.” Instead, I feel like I could write another post with the title “Hi, I’m ScienceWoman and I sometimes blog around here.” The last few weeks have been insane. I’ve been staying up later than usual, putting in less teaching prep time than I feel comfortable with, feeling like I’m not making any progress with my research, and missing time with my family. Somehow a combination of travel and continued sick (SciOnline09 will live in infamy for being the beginning of this misery) has wreaked havoc on my best laid plans.

So I declare that this Friday is my day for starting over with my theme. I have nothing but an office hour on my schedule and I’m going to use the day to clean my office, write two exams that I feel good about, take a walk outside, and have a pre-valentines lunch date with my husband.

Below the fold, I’ll take stock of just how badly I’ve been ignoring my thematic mandates. But before I do, anyone else want to join me in starting over on Friday the 13th of February? Or are you too busy whacking moles, jumping through hoops, or otherwise being distracted from the things that are really important to your health, happiness, and success?

From my list of “guiding principles” for 2009, here’s what’s going well.

  • Recognizing that graduate students are the building blocks of a successful research program, I will more coherently mentor my students, including scheduling regular meetings and progress reports.
  • I will make dedicated time each day to focus solely on Minnow and enjoy her. I will not multi-task during those times and I will not feel guilty about it.
  • I will take some days and nights away from Minnow and away from work in order to do the things I love by myself or with my friends.

What’s not happening that’s making me feel bad?*

  • I will transfer the time and mental energy I have used to write grant proposals into writing up papers, with the goal of submitting two first-author papers this year.
  • Now that I’ve done most of the tremendously difficult work of developing new classes, I will aim to take better notes and revise my materials as I teach a course, so that I’ll have a clearer idea of what works the next time I teach the material.
  • I will regain some control over my body this year.
  • By the end of year, I will be in a yoga class again.
  • I need to connect with this place where I live and where I may spend the next several decades. In order to do this, I’m trying to take an outdoor picture every day.

OK, so what stands out from this list is that I want to focus more on teaching and I want to take time to take care of my body and soul. I can do that, right? May the next 6 weeks be more sustainable than the past ones.

*If not on either list, then at least I’m not feeling bad about not doing them.


  1. #1 Jenn, PhD
    February 11, 2009

    I agree, I need a do-over too for the last month and a half. I’ve been away, which throws most plans out of the window, but there are lots of seemingly simple and quick things I needed to take care of that are still hanging over me. Perhaps I’ll write a post on this later today… I’m glad to hear that you’re taking the time with Minnow and alone/with friends! Those are really important

  2. #2 Isis the Scientist
    February 11, 2009

    Ugh, Sciencewoman. Are you in my life? I declared last week that I intend to spend next week in my office, not to be bothered except by the few commitments I have, because I need sometime to regroup my life.

    And I intend to try to get some running in because not running is bad for my soul.

  3. #3 fishprint
    February 11, 2009

    I’m in. Friday is a perfect time to reset.

  4. #4 Nic
    February 11, 2009

    I have found a yoga DVD can work when I can’t get to a class. They even have some that you could probably do with Minnow?

  5. #5 Academic
    February 11, 2009

    Glad to see the stuff with Minnow made your good list! Taking care of body and soul in academia seems to be a universally difficult task.

  6. #6 Cuttlefish, OM
    February 11, 2009

    Sounds like a good day for this:
    Good luck, ScienceWoman!

  7. #7 Anonymous
    February 11, 2009

    I thought that list was fantastic the first time I saw it – many of those should be my goals as well – though I also thought it was pretty ambitious. Alas, my Friday is already taken up with two Valentines parties at daycare and school, and two more kid parties on Saturday…. I’ll try to remember to enjoy them and not mentally multi-task during them!

  8. #8 JaneB
    February 11, 2009

    I’m in too. Am currently struggling to find any motivation to tackle the overwhelming piles of… stuff, both literal and on-the-list-eral in my life and work, and I’d love a fresh start.

  9. #9 Jane
    February 11, 2009

    I have a deck of yoga cards in my office, because I found that I didn’t have time to do a full yoga workout at home, but that I will often have 5-10 minutes here and there where I need a healthy form of stress relief. Sadly, I often don’t even have time for that these days….

    These past few weeks have been crazy for me, too, so count me in for the do-over!

  10. #10 kiwi
    February 12, 2009

    I started my makeover last Thursday! It must be something going around. High on my list are, leaving work on time, using my work time wisely, and submitting two first author papers this year too. Go SW!

  11. #11 Janus Professor
    February 13, 2009

    We need time for ourselves! I think it will makes us better people all around, and we shouldn’t feel guilty about doing it. Just when to make the time…that is the problem.

  12. #12 Emeritus
    February 15, 2009

    SW, I hope this new regime works for you in 2009! Despite my best intentions, I don’t think I got much personal time during academic years while my children were at home, and once they went off to college, I just worked harder on my research and classes. 30+ years later I have some regrets.

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