Monday, October 23, 2006

liminal stages

I'm still having trouble figuring out how to be productive as a post-doc. That big PhD project hanging over my head really helped me get things done for 6-12 months and now I need to find a way to channel some of that energy into new projects and getting old ones out the door.

Along with the liminality associated with work comes a "bloggy funk" (to borrow/adapt a term from yami), that I am also trying to figure out. I can totally identify with what sftr is going through right now.

But until I figure out what is going on, you all are just going to have to put up with sporadic, contentless-posts.

So today's post will borrow from post-doc and her Plan and her Plan update. A while back I presented some resolutions for life post-PhD, and I figured that since we are about a month out from my defense, I'd let you know how they are going.

1. Work no more hours than those for which I am being paid ...become more efficient during the time I am working. Certainly not on a day to day basis, but maybe on a week to week basis I am averaging about 40 hours - and my efficiency level is not bad, but the productivity thing is awful. (see above)

2. I will not eat any more home-cooked dinners in front of the TV. This has actually been surprisingly easy to implement. Since fish and I eat apart 4 nights a week (his work schedule), I have always chosen to read on those nights. So the other nights, one of us cooks dinner, we dish it up and sit down at the table. We end up having a nice conversation, and sometimes we even manage to do the dishes in a timely fashion. Yay, us.

3. I will attempt to spend at least one hour per week doing outdoor yard/house maintenance or improvements. I got a slow start on this one, but if you count moving things around in the garage (and from house to garage), I've managed it the last three weekends (and now we have a much more organized garage). Unfortunately, the ever shortening daylight hours and the more-frequent rains mean that this activity is limited almost entirely to weekends rather than giving me small chunks of garden time during the week.

4. At least once a month, the Princess Pup and I will get in the car and venture out of the neighborhood for a walk. Surprisingly, I've totally failed at this one. I've taken her on some decent length loops (45-60 minutes+) leaving from our house, but I haven't really managed to leave the neighborhood. Not to make excuses, but my limited energy has really put a damper on my desire to climb mountains. And this weekend, the pup has been a three-legged dogs - it appears that she pulled a muscle in her front right shoulder and has been hopping and limping for the past several days (although she seems to be improving).

5. I will read, for fun, from a book (not a magazine) at least once a week. Check. Sometimes it's not very long, but I am doing it. Right now I am towards the end of John Muir's mountaineering essays (with Thin Ice coming up next).


Anonymous said...

I appreciate you capitalizing my "Plan." It made me laugh. It sounds like you're doing quite well - yay for you! And it never hurts to have a little room for improvement.

I hope Princess Pup gets better soon. It always concerns me when my dog limps around for a couple days, but she usually improves quickly.

Writer Chica said...

Poor Pup! Hope she's better soon.

Good job on your goals. Nice conversation in lieu of TV is always a good choice and pays off great relationship dividends.

Anonymous said...

The standard post-pH.D. plan is to do whatever finishing touches are required to turn chapters into papers. Especially those messy, embarrasing chapters that you didn't have time to really figure out...

ScienceWoman said...

I took the princess pup for a walk this morning and she doesn't appear to be limping at all. Thanks for all your concern. I also think that once I've got the 2nd chapter from my dissertation submitted to a journal, I'll feel a lot better. So that'll be my goal for the next few weeks.

liketothelark said...

I think it's normal to have what appears to be "downtime", when you feel less than 100 percent 'productive' for a while after a big effort.

Part of it is gathering your energy, recovering, taking time out to spread the focus a bit.

A lot of the best creative ideas are seeded in times which seem a bit blah - they just bear fruit later. I'm sure this is true for scientific ideas too.

You'll have some super-productive time in the future, I'm sure, and this time will be the foundations, in some way or another, which may not be obvious now. (or maybe it is obvious, Mini is doing some serious growing!)

My suggestion, hang with it, take the time to play a bit.

Thanks for the blog, I enjoy coming back to it.

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