Monday, April 23, 2007

Professional nesting

It occurred to me today that perhaps now is not the best time to let days lapse without posting, lest everyone thinks I've gone into labor or something. (I haven't; I'm still here and still sans baby.) I've just been really immersing myself in work lately, that and running around getting all the last-minute baby stuff done. Both have been big time sucks.

Everyone keeps asking me if I've felt the "nesting instinct" yet. (Basically, the urge to clean everything in sight and get everything organized for the baby's arrival.) I *have* experienced the nesting instinct, but for me, it's been completely about my professional life.

So what does "professional nesting" look like? It's finishing up projects that have been languishing. Writing up long-forgotten-about results. Getting various pieces of research organized into various conference and journal papers. Revisiting analyses and experiments that some of my past students did but never finished, either because of time constraints or because at the time we thought we'd reached a dead end. (In the latter case, some of them turned out to not be dead ends, as later work showed.) Getting new projects at least sketched out, so that if I have to wait 3-6 months before I can start them, I'll at least have some idea of what I was thinking and what I want to do. Getting lots of inspirations for papers and trying to get those outlined (see previous sentence).

I think I've had this professional nesting instinct because I really don't know what is going to happen when the baby arrives. I have no idea when, realistically, I'll have the time and energy to start picking up a little bit of work again, because I'll be the primary caregiver for a while. In a sense, I'm hedging my bets, preparing for the worst-case scenario, which is that months will go by before I do any sort of substantive research work again. So I'm trying to finish up as much as I can. At the same time, I'm setting things up so that, whenever I do return to work, I can hit the ground running and pick up where I left off, hopefully.

And to me, right now, that's much more important and interesting than scrubbing my house.


ScienceWoman said...

This makes complete sense to me, and it seems like the sort of thing that some people do on sabbatical anyways. You are wise not to plan to do work while you are taking care of baby jane. I thought that I might get a paper revised for submission and get up to speed on a new field. I actually got 3 articles read and two pages of manuscript skimmed. In two months. So go ahead and nest now and then enjoy your time with baby when it comes.

Ianqui said...

That's the most practical description of nesting I've ever heard. Much more useful than making sure the house is clean.

Barsawad said...

I am here via 'Blogs Of Note' and the 'FemaleScienceProfessor' blog; and I have to say this:you professors have some of the most interesting and most informative blogs out there. And there are very few of such!

Thank you all for sharing your knowledge and views.