Thursday, July 21, 2005

I'm on a roll!

So as you can see by the creeping-up numbers on the right sidebar, this week has been a very productive one. The "work on one thing per day" strategy seems to be working for me, for now. On Monday, I came up with a tentative syllabus for the course and started sketching out the assignments. The assignments are really central to the course, so this is really a major move forward in the course revision. On Tuesday, I programmed like a madwoman---mostly user interface tweaks, but adding some core functionality as well. Yesterday I tackled the writing project, which has laid dormant for a few weeks since there were other things to distract me from it. I finished the first draft! It's really rough and I need to read it over before sending it to my coauthor, but I have something on paper and I don't think it sucks too badly.

I think the key to my productivity "binge" is that I've stopped beating myself up and started cutting myself some slack. I used to come in to school at the same time I would during the school year and stay until 5 or 6 at night, working the whole time---and I would feel guilty if I slacked off or if I wasn't as productive as I thought I "should" be. I found myself losing all motivation at roughly the same time every afternoon, and sometimes not being able to get my motivation back. In a sense, I felt guilty for cutting back my work during the summer! How crazy is that?! Sometime around the middle of last week, I came to my senses and decided that it was OK to come in later and leave earlier, to not check email on the weekends, to skip work and sleep in every once in a while. And you know what? I'm actually getting more done now. Strange how that works.

Today will be interesting---since this is typically a meeting-heavy day, I usually just work on whatever needs the most attention during the breaks between meetings. I think today I'll work some more on the course revisions, and perhaps just a little bit of coding. This is assuming, of course, that I don't have to spend too much time with the research students today (which has been my big time drain lately). I hope that I will be able to concentrate, given that I'll be doing a lot of context-switching.

I "rewarded" myself yesterday with a hike in a nearby preserve. For various reasons, I've never been to this particular preserve, so I wasn't sure what to expect. I had a wonderful hike---the trails in this park are very well maintained, and the scenery was beautiful (and varied---my favorite for hiking). Of course it was hotter than hell out, and of course I chose the trail with the fewest trees (doh!), but it was just the physical and mental respite I needed in the middle of a very busy week.


TripleSK said...

Non-snarky question: how are you quantifying progress on your software progress? Did you lay out the # of functions you want to write? Or is it more of an estimate based on how long/how many lines of code you expect the project to take?

TripleSK said...

Eh, I meant "on your software project".

BrightStar said...

sounds like you have a healthy mental state right now. excellent!! I'm admiring it from afar. :) Hopefully some will rub off onto me.

Jane said...

TripleSK, I'm quantifying my progress qualitatively. :) Seriously, it's more of a feel for how much further I have to go: how many more features need to be implemented, my estimation for how long those tasks will take, some time (lots of time) thrown in for debugging and documentation, etc. The numbers may be revised downwards if I discover that I've forgotten to account for a task or two.

b*, healthy mental states are hard to come by here, so I celebrate them whenever they appear! But yeah, I am feeling really "centered" lately, and wanted to record it so that the next time life gets crazy, I have a record that there was a saner time in my life when I felt in control.