Thursday, January 04, 2007

An interesting problem

Rather than making new year's resolutions this year, I've decided to set monthly goals for myself, both personally and professionally. Yesterday afternoon was Goal-Setting Day. It was actually kind of fun: going back through my old notes and my sabbatical plan, figuring out how to prioritize my different projects, etc. But I did run into a very interesting sort of roadblock:

It has been so long since I've had the luxury of "just" concentrating on my research that I have no clue how much work I am capable of finishing in a month. Which makes setting goals (and more specifically, tasks related to reaching those goals) sort of tricky.

I know how many productive hours of work I have in me per day, and based on that I have a very rough idea of how much I can get done in a week. But extending beyond that is pretty much just guesswork for me right now. I could just set weekly goals, but I sense that to keep myself on track, the monthly timeframe will work best for me.

So I'll just chalk this one up to "one of the many things I will learn about myself as part of my sabbatical." If any of you have any tricks or tips that work for you in terms of setting achievable long-term goals, I'd be very interested in hearing about them in the comments.


Michael Flessas said...

There was a book suggested to you about Zen and life many weeks ago. Did you get it? Good advice to solve some of these scheduling/life/work issues but you have to read it first. Also, do know about the links here: and and They might be of use so far as your career goes.
Now, Dr. Jane, listen up, this is for your own welfare:
Don't spend so much time thinking about how you shall organize. No, pick the most important research project and do it. Like Curly in City Slickers said, "It's about one thing." You're driving yourself nuts going back and forth to list making and planning about planning to plan. Get out of the endless loop and analysis paralysis. Break free of it. Decide.

ScienceWoman said...

I've found that sometimes simply prioritizing projects is more useful (and certainly easier) than writing explicit goals. For example, right now, my first priority is getting Paper A submitted. Since I am currently waiting on my coauthors, I have temporarily moved on to Project B. Good luck!

Jane said...

Oh, don't worry, I'm certainly not over-planning, here :). I just thought it was weird that I went to list my goals for the month and found that I wasn't sure what a "doable" goal was! I do prioritize projects and go by that (like you suggested, ScienceWoman) but I find it helpful to at least have a list of "what should I do next on this project" hanging around. That's a better description of what I was trying to do yesterday, I guess.

(and the list is helping, anyway---I made substantial progress on two separate papers today! yippie!)

Chaser said...

Basically, I just try to get myself through a daily list. I am kind of bad at the long-term planning.