Sunday, September 17, 2006

Life overhaul, 2006-2007

Ever feel as if you just have too much stuff--be it physical, emotional, mental, or whatever? That's where I've been for many months. There's a reason, after all, this blog is called The Clutter Museum.

I'm not by nature a physical clutterer, although I am definitely a paper piler. But I carry with me a lot of mental clutter brought on by too many projects and too many small- to medium-sized obligations. In the coming months, I'm going to be assessing, sometimes in this space and sometimes privately, how important these obligations remain to me, and then I'm going to shed as many of them as possible.

A major problem: I'm spending way too much time on my computer. The reasons for this have included:

The dissertation: But no more! Ha! Until I need to transform it into a book proposal, it won't be appearing on my Mac's desktop.

Job application season: Jobs to find, hiring committees to stalk, letters to write.

Teaching: My students blogged this quarter. I wasn't nearly as good as I had intended to be about keeping up with all their posts. Fortunately, my reader was able to take up that responsibility for me. And of course, ongoing planning for fall and winter quarter classes will keep me at my desk quite a bit.

BlogHer: My responsibilities for BlogHer are weighing on me. I believe very strongly in the BlogHer mission, but my beat requires me to follow about 250 academic bloghers' RSS feeds, as well as keep the Research & Academia blogroll updated. I haven't been nearly as good an editor as I should be, and I'm vowing to redouble (literally) my posting to the site. Still, that's a lot of Bloglines time, and it feels overwhelming. Definite mental clutter.

Another blog thing: I've also applied to be a blogger for another channel, and my application was accepted. I'm not supposed to announce it yet, and it's nothing big, really, but it's a nice freelancing opportunity. Although I haven't posted to it for awhile because the dissertation was a priority, this pet project means a lot to me, so I'd like to keep it up.

In addition, the dissertation interrupted one hobby of mine, model horse collecting and customizing (strange but true!), that has allowed me to meet many interesting people and that has inspired my next book project. I'd like to start playing with the little horsies again, as well as engage more meaningfully with the large community of model horse folks.

I also would like to write more, in an academic sense, about scrapbooking, but my interest in the actual scrapbooking has waned. Which kind of sucks because in my short run at scrapbooking, I managed to accrue a lot of supplies. Perhaps once the job search season is over, I'll feel more inclined to reopen the albums.

Finally, there's other crafty goodness. First, my friend Innisfree has been kind enough to teach me how to knit, and she promises to show me how to purl as well. I'm starting out with a simple scarf knitted from a single type of fiber, yet I'm managing to mess it up pretty damn well (no fault of Innisfree's, I assure you--this mess is entirely trillwing's). Second, I bought a sewing machine a few months back, and I'd really like to learn to use it and make a few simple crafty things, maybe some plush animals for Lucas.

So, to summarize: Four blogs, four hobbies, four courses to teach this year, several dozen job applications, a dissertation to revise into a book, a journal article that has been in revise & resubmit limbo for way too long, and, oh yes, those little things known as marriage and motherhood.

Obviously, I have too many commitments. I need to simplify, as the mental clutter has quickly expanded into physical disarray: a messy desk and an office piled with paper and boxes, rooms that don't get nearly the housekeeping attention they deserve, a laundry crisis every couple of weeks.

I have a pretty objective perspective on all this stuff, and it's clear to me what needs to go, but I'm not yet ready to give it up, as I do enjoy a lot of it. Still, my goals are simple. By the end of this coming school year (June 2007), I want to:
  • have more time for Lucas and Mr. Trillwing. This is of paramount importance.
  • have a job. I'm hoping it will be academic in nature. My second choice is either a museum management-level position or a combination of freelance writing and museum consulting that lets me be a WAHM.
  • be well on the way to academic publication. I haven't emphasized this aspect of my nascent academic career nearly enough.
  • pare myself down to two hobbies, plus blogging. And get the damn blogging under control.

Anyhow, while not the most interesting of posts, this has been a good exercise for me in clarifying what I want to accomplish. I've started this evening with a major apartment cleaning that I'll continue in odd hours throughout this already busy week. It already feels cleaner, and that helps me be less scatter-brained.

What about you? What are your plans for the next 9-12 months?


ScienceWoman said...

Wow. You do have a lot on your plate. I'd definitely say cut down the blogging time in order to make room for other fun things.

And, in answer to your question, in the next nine months, I hope to finish my PhD and have a healthy baby. Everything else sort of pales in importance.

Dr. Peters said...

Hobbies are fun and important to me. I crochet and sew and am learning the mandolin. And my mom just gave me a kit for handmade greeting cards. People ask me how I have time for it, and really I don't have a ton of time for it, but it's a real stress reliever. Like a mental power nap--I spend a couple of hours on a project that requires just enough concentration to temporarily forget about my other responsibilities, and then I can return to other work recharged. I actually think I recoup that time because I work more efficiently and with more focus after my hobby break.

Queen of West Procrastination said...

In the next 9-12 months? Just the academic part of it is overwhelming at times. I have:

- 200 books to read
- comprehensive exams
- one language to learn (first, I need to be able to read it better; then I need to get the conversational part under control)
- one conference paper to finish and many more abstracts to write, in the hopes that this looks better on my funding applications
- way too many funding applications
- TA two courses, in addition to whatever they assign me for the summer.
- write my dissertation proposal

That's my next 9-12 months. In addition to that, I'd like to spend more time with my husband, pay off $6500 of high interest credit card debt, learn to do some piano accompaniment for church, not get entirely rusty on the flute, and spend some time making friends out here.

It'll be good to see how you de-clutter your life, because I really have a lot to learn.