Easing into a New Year

The start of 2017 marks a shift in my academic career; this past November I passed my preliminary exams, and in December I finished my doctoral coursework. This means that so far, my spring term has consisted of beginning to assemble and work through a bibliography for my comprehensive exams, which I’ll take in October of this year. I continue to work as a teaching assistant (this term for in-person and online MLIS courses in managing research data), but beyond that commitment, my time is largely unstructured. It’s in striking contrast to my schedule while still in coursework.

As I adjust to what feels like, but isn’t really, free time, I have been spending some time on one of my favorite indulgences: reading about productivity and time management. While I don’t have a lot of faith in “life hacks” and I don’t know how much it is really possible to programmatically optimize human behavior, I am interested in how people approach their work. Especially when that work consists of ten months of reading and note-taking. I may share some favorites here as they emerge.

So far, one useful strategy I’ve begun to employ is working toward other discrete projects throughout the spring term. This gives me some tangible deadlines and anticipated research projects around which to structure my comps reading.┬áHere’s what I have on my calendar for the spring term:

  • Participating in an online section of CopyrightX throughout semester
  • Revising a book chapter, due February 1
  • Co-teaching a university library workshop on hypothes.is web annotation February 10
  • Presenting at Personal Digital Archiving in Palo Alto, March 29
  • Co-writing another book chapter, draft due in May
  • Presenting on a panel at SAA in Portland in July

I’m hoping that this will be just enough, and not too much, scaffolding to support my reading schedule while also keeping me active in my field. When space seems to open up, I have a tendency to try to fill it quickly, which can easily end in overload. This semester, I’m tracking my work a bit more closely and trying to pay more attention to how much time is devoted to each of my projects. I’ll be sure to follow up here to share any especially helpful strategies or resources, as well as some output from these upcoming projects when possible.