Read, think, write…[repeat]

The lesson of the year so far is that sometimes things go hinky even when you do everything right. It has been an incredibly challenging year. The hard part is that I didn’t see it coming; maybe I missed all the signs, or maybe this is another lesson in letting go. I’ve gotten pretty good about laughing about the absurdity of it all (thank you Kurt Vonnegut), which is a much nicer way to live than being constantly angry or sad. Another silver lining is that, once again, I am reminded how lucky I am in so many aspects of my life. To work where I work, to have great family support, to have relative financial stability, and so on. I am learning to be much more patient and to set more realistic expectations for my work life when things in my personal life need to take precedence. Luckily, I have support to get me through these times.

Lest you all think someone died or that I’m going through a divorce or have a terrible illness, none of those things are the beast sitting on my shoulders right now.

Since I have a lot on my plate in the next 10-12 months (P&T dossier is due May 2016 and there are several major writing and research commitments that need focused attention), I am taking some time this summer to review and hone my time/life/energy management strategies. Kerry Ann Rockquemore’s weekly Monday Motivator is tremendously helpful in the writing arena (although you wouldn’t know that from my posts here). Melanie Nelson, whose blog Beyond Managing I follow, offered a great intro to project management that is style agnostic. There are a couple of collaborative projects happening here that could use some formal project management, so I’m excited to try some of the strategies out. The thing I am most intrigued to try are her strategies for managing competing priorities. I tend to do fairly well at managing individual projects well, even 2-3 at the same time. Where I tend to fall apart is by saying yes to too many things because there is less of an available buffer than I realized. Also, keeping daily work in line with overall priorities is really tough in a “service” unit. Do I say no to a faculty consult because I am booked for the next couple of weeks? It’s typically my own fault for booking myself so tightly, so I tend to de-prioritize my own work, which creates the next crunch period. Figuring out a personal strategy for eliminating unnecessary work and aligning daily/weekly priorities with semester/annual priorities is top of my list for next week.

In lieu of meditating as much as I probably should be, I’m reading Pema Chodron’s Living Beautifully with Uncertainty and Change. Reading her words is almost as good as meditation; at the very least helps me to calm the whirlwind of stuff in mind.

By Heather L. Coates

2 comments on “Read, think, write…[repeat]

  1. Thanks for the shout out, and I’m glad you liked the class! Let me know if you have any questions as you start to apply the ideas. I’m happy to field a couple of follow up questions from students.

    Your “saying no to a faculty consult because I’m already booked” problem sounds like an argument for increasing the slack in your schedule… if you can. Of course, that’s easier said than done. I struggle with that, too, and recently overloaded myself and had to shed somethings to get my work in progress back down to where I’m most productive.

    (I swear I’m not stalking my students… I just saw the pingback notification and clicked over to see what you had to say!)

    • Thanks for the comment and validating my initial impression that the problem is slack. Now to figure out how to create some slack and keep myself from filling it! As a librarian, I support faculty research, so separating the “service/practice” portion of my time from the research projects is messy. I still don’t feel like I have a good grasp on how to set those boundaries for myself. Practice is usually the answer.

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