Friday, November 13, 2015

I think I've figured out the structure of the article, and I think I've figured out how to work through some sticky spots.

Also, I've gotten sleep.

And I've worked out the last three days.

Actually working out, sleeping, and working on the article is really helping. Having a plan for the article is really helping. Having a couple of days off from work has helped me to be less stressed and less sad, too. So that's a good thing.

Hopefully I can get some stuff done this weekend, too, including sleep.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

I'm so thankful that the quarter is coming to a close and what I've learned from all my failures this fall.

Even though I'm still behind on all.the.things, being able to relax a bit more has helped.

I've figured out, after nine weeks, that I can't make this kind of schedule that I gave myself this quarter work for me on any front. At all. I had a two week burst of productivity, and that's it. Since then, I've spend as much time complaining about work and not having time to do everything as I have actually doing things. Everything has made me extremely depressed this quarter, and who can function like that? And the problem is I keep taking breaks, and the breaks end up being longer than the work stretches because I've exhausted myself. Steady productivity is a better pace for me than mad bursts and then periods of checking out. So, here's what's changed:

  1. I hit rock bottom, finally. I declared that I was going to work on a weight gain goal and try to hit 200 pounds, buy elastic pants, and give up. I was serious. And Monday I was all stressed about cleaning and everything and about my parents coming in, and I just finally admitted defeat and gave up on everything. Surprisingly, that helped.
  2. I cancelled my office hours yesterday and cancelled classes today. It sounds shady to say that I did it in part so I could work out, but I'll explain. Today is usually the one day where I actually just lecture on the stories rather than hold class discussion. And it's a lecture that I've pulled from a couple of different places, and which I usually post the note on the discussion board anyway. So, I gave them the option of having them come to class with me reading the lecture to them or cancelling class but they had to read EVERYTHING I posted on their own with the understanding that they were still responsible for the material for the exam whether I went over it or not, and if they weren't comfortable with that, that I would come in and deliver the lecture. They opted not to have class. I'm actually okay with this because the ones who were there Tuesday have had near perfect attendance and I could see the look of despair and anxiety and tiredness in their eyes. If they are anyway near as stressed as I am, then the ones who always show deserve I think to take take responsibility and have the day off. They may regret it during class time, but I did make it clear that I would have class and give them the lecture. That means that I've worked out two days in a row, had some time to myself, and gotten the laundry done. I also have tonight's dinner already made. So just taking that breather to get some stuff done has now put me in a position to get through the quarter without just keeping afloat.
  3. My parents are back in town. I was stressed out after a while with them here, and it's been a great time just the three of us, but the division of labor is now easier with mom and dad around. Help in the kitchen, help with grocery shopping and meal prep, all of that means less stuff for me to do and more time to get other things done like work. And my mom declared that they are coming back to help until I get my articles written for tenure so that I can spend more time working and less time doing household stuff, which wow, I mean, that's nice. Plus, they just want an excuse to be with the kid. As as I clean and declutter, there's slowly more room in the house which makes a big difference with four adults and one child. 
  4. My schedule this quarter has helped highlight what doesn't work for me, so I know how to adjust next quarter and spring quarter. 
What I've learned:
  1. The school year is not the same as summer. Sure, that sounds like a no-brainer here, but I thought if I got used to a certain schedule over the summer and replicated it during the quarter it would work, but that's not the case. I guess I always forget by the end of summer just how exhausting the actual teaching part of my job is. In the summer, it does work better for me to work out first and then get to my own stuff after I drop off the kid. During the year, it does not. It seems to work better for me if I get up and get 45min to an hour of work in early morning and then work out after kid dropoff. I seem to be more consistent that way. That is the plan for next quarter: 45 min to an hour in the am, and then the goal is to get another 45 min to an hour of reading done in the evenings before bed. I think that will lead me to a more productive quarter in terms of my own work and my health/wellness.
  2. The one different thing I am trying is having a full day at the office on Wednesdays. If I do the bulk of my office hours on Wednesdays, then this means that Wednesday gets to be my mid week off day in terms of getting up early to do work and working out. That leaves me MTRF (with MF off from the office). I'm hopeful that I can use that time for class prep/grading and article work since I'll have a nice full day there. We'll see how that goes. Again, I'm hopeful here.
  3. I am a nicer person all around when I can get things done. When I've worked out and gotten my writing done, I'm a nicer and more even wife and mother, two things I actually like being. I think we've all suffered this quarter because of me, and I don't like that at all. I want to fix that. Fortunately I've fixed the remaining week of the quarter to benefit us all in that way, and things will be okay, I think. I already feel better having worked out yesterday and this morning and knowing that I'll be able to work out tomorrow morning as well. My desk at home is cleared off; the bedroom is straightened (for now); I've got a little space in there to function, so that should help for the next week or so.
Today I'm going to spend no more than an hour grading and then I'm going to work on my article and see what I can't try to unravel of that hot mess.

ETA: Grading done. Also wrote for 20 minutes on the article. I'm overwhelmed by it, but I think I now have a sense of how it needs to be organized and how to deal getting my notes and draft to make sense. I'm a bit stressed and anxious about it, but I at least feel like I know where it should go. 

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

I've been able to catch up on sleep, and I've got a handle now on the rest of the quarter, both in terms of the grad class and the survey classes. That feels good. Last night I goofed off a bit after the kid went to bed and let the husband do the kitchen (that's now his job anyway). It took me longer to fall asleep than I'd liked for it to have, and I didn't get as much as I wanted to, but at least I was somewhat relaxed. That's a plus.

The focus still, for the remainder of the quarter is to just survive and do good enough. I've already got the final exams made, so that's a plus. I only need to spend about 5 minutes at the grocery getting a couple of things today, so that's good. I've got to go for a run and spend some time writing. I can write in between cooking batches of bacon, actually, when I get home.

What I need to do is finally finish that article. I can spend my office hours then for the rest of the quarter doing the syllabi for next quarter, setting up on the on-line class for next quarter, and writing. And then grading as things come in.

Sleep is the big thing. My attitude has shifted so much in the last couple of days because I've gotten more sleep. I still feel like I'm on the verge of just crying all the time though, but that's other stuff I guess. I'm sure once I eventually get caught up on sleep that will help.

In terms of sleep, this is what I've decided to try because I have actually really screwed myself over with this article that was due two weeks ago. I'm two articles behind already at this point. But I was getting less sleep than I should, waking up to try to squeeze work or cleaning in before class, then working or cleaning at night after dinner, trying to work out, getting up at 4:30 for that, and I think what I did was just exhaust myself. Now, I still should be reading at night rather than watching tv, but I've decided, at least for the rest of the quarter to focus on at least 8.5 hours of sleep. If that means not getting up early to work out or work, then so be it because I feel like I'll get more done during the day if I'm rested than if I'm trying to squeeze more work in. And I'm going to commit to 20 minutes of writing a day until the article is done. Seven days a week. It can be revision work or new words, but at least 20 minutes a day for the writing.

Rather than feeling hopeless about all that needs to be done, I realize that if I'm getting sleep, there is enough time to do stuff, and if I'm rested, I can get it done faster. I can focus better on the grading and stuff, too. I'm still worried about how bad this article sucks though.

And I've gotten sucked into this horrible body image thing the last couple of days. It feels like all of my clothes, even my new ones and stuff that I love and have made me feel good about myself in the past--it feels like everything is ill fitting and frumpy. All of my make up feels wrong and dated. I don't know. It's somewhat disheartening.

Anyway, the skies are a little brighter today. And I'm going to go run some errands.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

So I am frantically trying to get caught up on my grad class. In many ways the on-line thing has been great in terms of not having to be in a room for an extra three hours a week and when I'm behind or not as fully prepared as I should be, it gets masked by the nature of the class which is much more student led and student responsible than if I were in class. The downside is that we are all behind because nothing is forcing us to get to a certain point each week. And that lack of structure has me stressed out a little bit, too.

The work those who are left in the class are doing though is for the most part outstanding. I got a good group who can self-direct, so that alleviates any guilt on my part for lack of guidance. It is forcing those who really want to get something out of the class to get it. If that makes me a poor professor this quarter, then so be it. I'm okay with that.

What is more pressing though is that I just feel like I've failed this quarter. Just about every goal I've set for myself has not been met. Not even close. 

However, what is most distressing is that my stress level and anxiety is affecting the kid. She's displaying some signs of anxiety that seem a bit more than what a two year old should (at least her separation anxiety at school has abated), and that bothers me. I know she's feeding off my anxiety, and I don't like that. So I've started meditating again. I hope that helps me even out a little bit more. And I am going to make a commitment to 8 hours of sleep a night. I got almost 9 last night, and it's already made a difference. And if that means I need to adjust my workout schedule, then so be it. I need the sleep. That will help with the weight loss, the stress, the anxiety, the depression, and really just my ability to function and get things done. As far as meditation goes, I like the Headspace app a lot, and they have a new "depression" pack, also ones for anxiety and stress, but I'm going to give the depression pack a go first. 10 minutes a day for 30 days. I can easily commit to 10 minutes of meditation. I am also, in conjunction with this, going to work on my caffeine consumption, too. 

I'm hoping these lifestyle tweaks will help me even out a bit more and get me closer to my writing and teaching goals. 

Now to knock out some grading!