Vicissitudes of my job

I’ve been having trouble getting myself to work at appropriate times.  It’s not so much that I am bad at time management but that I am bad at energy management. When I have some nice hours to devote to research and writing work, I get all sleepy and cranky. Then of course, if I don’t get things done when I do have time, it crunches everything else later. Augh!

I have talked before about using a standing desk, and how it can be a useful trick for making yourself do some work and not fall asleep face-down on your desk with the door open.  Recently I have found that pulling open the second drawer of my office file cabinet (full of files) makes a pretty decent surface for putting the laptop on so that I can work standing up.  It has an advantage over my desk-with-pile-of-textbooks plan in that it requires less heavy lifting.  It’s also great because standing at this open drawer gives me a view of absolutely nothing except a bland, beige patch of wall a few feet in front of my eyes.  This position gives me nothing to look at except that I am doing, and sometimes I need that.

But also, sometimes when you’ve been struggling really hard to do work, getting even a few things done feels really productive.  I find that sometimes that productive feeling can help.  Dame Eleanor Hull points out that sometimes all you can do is not make it worse.

Meanwhile, there are three reasons why students sometimes call me ma’am in a conversation:

  1. One or both of us is from (or in) the South.
  2. They have spent several years in the military.
  3. They think I am old enough to be their mother.

Which one do you think happens most often here in Blighted Town?

(#2:  Two of those three bullets apply regularly for me, but definitely not the third one.)

20 Responses to “Vicissitudes of my job”

  1. Comrade PhysioProf Says:

    I would laugh if I walked into your office and saw you standing in front of your file cabinet laptopping while facing the wall.

  2. First Gen Ameircan Says:

    When I get like that, I pick something small to accomplish, even if it’s just organizing my desk, so I feel like I haven’t completely wasted the day.

    Then I wonder if sometimes my mind just needs a break. I tend to run on all cylinders, but then I’ll have a week or two where I get very little proactive stuff done. I think partly my mind needs a break to recharge once in a while. Maybe a few days off are in order.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      The problem with a few days off is that soon a few days become FOREVER. Because not working is way more fun than working and all our deadlines are self-imposed, except the tenure packet one.

      • Rumpus Says:

        I used to be that way too, but then something happened and now I don’t have any problem getting work done. I don’t surf the web or waste time in any of the myriad ways that I previously used. I don’t know what really happened except that my situation changed in terms of focus and responsibilities. This change happened about the same time I became happier with my situation, so maybe being zen-leaning-towards-pleased about work was the key. Unfortunately, there still are not enough hours per day.

  3. Clio Bluestocking Says:

    In online classes, I get called “sir.” I feel a bit like Peppermint Patty when that happens. Usually, the reasons are both #1 and #2. Although my age is of a number that makes #3 ever more conceivable, I will never admit it.

    I read — or heard — or misremembered — or totally made up — somewhere that Ernest Hemingway would stand and write.

  4. Spanish Prof Says:

    Interesting about being called “Ma’am” and “Sir” by students. I get called “Señora” (Mrs.) a lot by my students, and I don’t like it because I find it a remanent of unconscious sexism in my students. “Señora” is how they call they high school teacher and maybe our lower level language instructors (who do not have a PhD). But not a single one of the male professors in my department is called “Señor” (Sir). They are always addressed as Dr. X or Professor X. As far as I am concerned, they can call me by my first name, but I make a point at the beginning of the semester to tell my students not to call me “Señora”. It never works.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      That sucks. I would understand if they called the male professors Senor too, but if they differentiate then that’s pretty awful.

      So far I’ve only had one student call me Mrs., and his fellow classmates set him straight pretty quickly. They’re really big on titles and respect at my school, which is fine with me.

      It may help that a handful of the scarier professors across campus don’t have PhDs but do have other titles that they expect to be called by (ex. Rear Admiral… though not that one specifically), so students are very careful with getting the title correct.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        I find it helpful to have a canned response in my email that tells them to call me doctor. That way I never have to think about getting mad; I just hit send and forget it, confident that I have shared some useful knowledge with them.

  5. Suzita @ playfightrepeat.com Says:

    I play this mind game with myself when I am trying to get myself to work. I generate a couple of things that I really don’t want to do and have been putting off for a while. Then I tell myself that at least I am doing (fill in blank) and not that other horrible thing.

    With a huge project like a dissertation, it was usually a certain aspect of the project that I couldn’t stand on a particular day. So I’d make myself do another part.

    The funny thing was, that some days I’d get up and the thing that was my dreaded horrible thing last week, was no longer so. Another thing had taken it’s place. So I would eventually get the initial awful thing done.

    My husband did his dissertation while we had two small kids. The hardest part for him was making himself work when time opened up. It felt to him like he had very little choice about when to get work done. If I could take the kids to the park or something, he had to get work done right then. That was rough. It’s always better to have some kind of choice about the “work” we must do each day.

  6. Molly On Money Says:

    I’ve had #1,2 and 3. The first time #3 started happening I was in my mid 30’s. I was the age of their parents. Where I am teenage pregnancy is common. At my daughter’s school she’s got parents that range from their late 20’s all the way to their early 50’s!

  7. Donna Freedman Says:

    The comedian Margaret Smith suggested that you shouldn’t be called “ma’am” until you’ve had your first “ma’ammogram.”
    I’ve been getting ma’amed ever since I hit 40 or so. I use sir and ma’am myself all day long, but it’s weird to have it directed back at you.
    Of course, it’d be weirder if I got “sir” instead of ma’am.


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