Tomorrow the new semester begins, and I had today off from work so I spent some time thinking about what I needed to do and how I would get it done.  Key things about this semester:

  • Working full time at day job, who has laid off half the company in the last 3 months so I need to perform adequately
  • Teaching 1 section on Intro to Statistics and the associated Lab
  • AERA presentation to write, to be uploaded by March 23rd
  • Reading prep toward comps this summer and dissertation after that.  I know 1 comp question so far (local and national environment of high stakes testing with regard to its relationship to college performance)
  • Data may start coming in that will be used for dissertation, in which case I will have to start turning disjointed files into a longitudinal database; that’s going to be a blast.

All of which means I need to get back to being reasonably organized.

  • WORK: Luckily my day job is relatively self-contained.  I organize myself within that bucket and it rarely crosses over outside the occasional blackberry message. 
  • TEACHING:  For the teaching, I have finished lecture notes for 7 out of 15
    chapters and 2 of the 4 exams.  I’m not quite up through spring break,
    but getting there.  
    • Today I need to go through the piles of papers on my desk and organize what goes to class and what doesn’t.
    • Tonight I need to go through my ancillary materials and add to my notes pages for the 4 chapters I just finished, then print the notes pages for myself.
    • Tomorrow I need to call the Blackboard Administrator and get my class turned on so that I can use it for distributing copies of the Presentations to the students, as well as ancillary materials.
    • Tomorrow night is the first class; I need to be well rested, fed, and my most sparkling self (ugh)
    • Next weekend, in addition to grading the first homework, I would like to go through and complete the two chapters to get me through spring break.
  • AERA: Dang that thing sneaks up on me every single year.  I need to review my proposal and the comments made by the reviewers and my adviser, then start writing.  I have most of the materials, but this is a slightly different way of organizing the material and I need to not underestimate how long that can take.
    • Next weekend I need to re-read the proposal, my advisers comments and those of the reviewers, then begin free-writing around the topic. 
  • COMPS: This is the one I have the most fudge on, so I will probably let this slide until after the AERA paper is done.  The exception is if adviser decides to have any kind of regular meeting (doubtful) between now and when the data is all here.
  • DATA: Waiting game – the good news is that its not here yet, so I have nothing to do.  The bad news is that I don’t know when it WILL be here…..

Last time I taught I found my entire weekends being occupied with things related to teaching.  That can’t happen again.  More importantly, I need to align how I use the weekends for the entire semester to meet my broader goals.  So here are a few goals:

  1. Weeknights are mine.  Either I am teaching until 8pm or I am trying to get to the gym, but one way or the other I need the downtime to relax and am too often braindead anyway from a day of work.  The most I will ever ask of myself on a weeknight is grading homework in front of the TV.
  2. One day out of every weekend is devoted to AERA writing and Comps;  At first it should be mostly AERA, later in the term it will refocus to mostly comps, but the goal is not to let the class take up both days and to do both from the very beginning.
  3. I need to get the remaining lecture notes between now and spring break (2 chapters) completed next weekend.  I can then complete the remainder of these notes after the AERA paper is done.

Unlike so much of life, most of the non-class related tasks are not things that can easily be broken down and put on a list.  I’ve tried to turn the project “Write AERA paper” into a series of next actions and failed.  They are either too vague, or specific but rapidly become irrelevant or incorrect.  Therefore I need to focus on those types of lists for what I CAN create lists for (grade homework, review lecture notes, answer emails from class) and allot time in chunks for those that I cannot.

Here is to the internal hope that arises every semester that somehow, this one can be different.