A presentation I did for our PhD students today on productivity during a pandemic...
I wanted it to be highly interactive.
In academia it is never enough – someone always has more pubs, works more hours, gets more awards, more ... You can’t chase that person – you won’t win bc there will always be someone else to chase. This can make it hard to talk about struggles.
Key is to reconnect to intrinsic motivation – what motivates you internally – & set reasonable goals that help you reach your own end goals (not someone else’s).
Motivation, stress, pressure, imposter syndrome, high unachievable expectations, worries about the future, worries about your family, isolation, uncertainty…
Icons stand for (clockwise:from person stretching): be flexible, let yourself feel, use left brain, be realistic, use rewards, go outside, prioritize, do fun things, breathe, think abt big picture/ideal future, eat bao, take control over what you can, self-compassion, music/arts
On the idea of rewards @prof_mirya does this - she assigns points to her goals and then rewards for diff levels of points. @Sakiera_Hudson tried this last semester and it looks like it could be a really good reward/bribe system.
Or why are you doing research, teaching - or whatever it is you do. What are your big huge visions for your potential impacts on the world?
To figure out your plan, work backwards from your ideal 5 year self. What do you need to do to get there?
My 5 year plan worksheet. Write you big goal for each year then the activities (research, pubs, grants, training) that help you meet that goal
Then turn that into monthly goals/objectives
projects may span many months - break it down to what needs to get done each month
then set weekly goals, then daily goals - what will you get done today?
use fun pens, a bullet journal, a cute planner - whatever makes it feel a bit special and fun
when you set your goals, it can help to delineate what you NEED to do that day versus what would be nice. This can be super helpful now given the worldwide upheaval and that your plans may get thwarted.
@CNortonDane has sold me on timeboxing which (to me) means you actually plot out the time to do things.
this is an example of my timeboxing - everything in purple is a timebox, everything in blue is a meeting, I try to timebox my mornings for work related to my personal goals and then afternoons are for meetings and to do things for other people (doesn’t always work though)
Of note, I have sound notifications for texts & emails turned off on my phone & laptop. I also have an extensive set of email filters to help me work mostly undisturbed. I don’t always have willpower to totally turn off email during projects needing focus-though sometimes I do.
I strongly recommend getting an accountability group together - people who you trust and with whom you don’t feel competitive. Ours is on slack, which I really like personally. It’s turned into a really lovely, supportive place and I truly feel accountable to them.
@CNortonDane tried to convince me to do this every morning and it cracks me up to think of a bunch of random researchers standing up and holding each other accountable each am. But we do do this in our accountability group - virtually - and that works well.
It can be really hard right now to feel like that manuscript or thesis is really meaningful in the scheme of things. Connecting to your bigger goal of what impact you hote you and wor work will have is important for keeping you more motivated.
set your goals, adjust them as necessary, completely bust them if they are unrealistic or not helpful to getting you where you need to go, negotiate deadlines and timelines, and reschedule if needed.
Some other practical tips
Goals that have personal meaning are important!
the pomodoro technique. This can really help get you focused - you just have to work for 25 mins. That is all. Then another 25, then another. This can help with tasks you dread - just do it for 25 mins.
A student today asked how to figure out how long things take you. For me, everything takes me at least twice as long during the pandemic. I used to be super efficient and am less so now.
The pomodoro technique can give you little deadlines that can help constrain projects to specific time periods so they don’t spread out. It can also help you track how long things take you so you can set more reasonable timelines later.
Flow - flow is important. Flow is that deep, intense, concentration that makes time just fly by.
Point on this slide is to make sure you are making time for things in the top left quadrant - that is likely where things related to your own goals reside, and yet they often get pushed aside for the urgent things.
Timeboxing can help with this - box out your time and then box out time to respond to urgent things.
I then talked about self-complexity as it is an important buffer - especially now. You can read more about that here:

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More from @CindyBVeldhuis

15 Dec 20
There has been a lot of criticism of the plan for WH staff to be among the first to get COVID vaccines - the idea being that they don't seem to believe in the virus (as evidenced by their super spreader events, etc.). And the president decided to postpone the vaccinations
But not everyone in the WH is there bc they support current president. There are staffers who work there regardless of who the president is-staffers who clean, protect, cook, etc. who really do deserve vaccines due to exposure.
A WH staffer has started a gofundme to pay for their medical expenses related to having to have his lower leg amputated.
theslot.jezebel.com/even-a-white-h… @JoyAnnReid @KatyTurNBC @maddow
Read 4 tweets
25 Jul 20
If you plan to apply for an F31, F32, F99/K00 it's important to really think about & talk about money. This is not easy or comfortable - but it will save you a lot of stress later on. I'll explain in the next few tweets. Much of this may apply to T32s as well. /1
With an F32 or F31 (I'm less familiar with F99s, but am assuming they are similar), you get a stipend - and that money is set. For postdocs, you start out at level 0 most of the time, and then go up a level each year. So you get a bit more money each year, which is nice. /2
You get yearly institutional allowance-for postdocs that is $9,850 and for predocs it is $4,200. It is supposed to "defray" costs like for health insurance, travel, research supplies, etc. You also get money for tuition-for predocs it's $21,000 and for postdocs that is $4500. /3
Read 22 tweets
24 Mar 20
I feel like one of the issues right now is that people have very mistaken ideas of what this virus is. We need to amplify voices of those who are sick and those who are taking care of them. I am on day 12 of what is likely COVID-19.
Yesterday my MD wanted me to go to the ED bc of concerns about my oxygen. I was very lightheaded - esp when I walked up a flight of stairs. I decided to just rest and see if things improved as I had had a very busy workday, and that may have been too much for me.
I felt better this morning - and feel even better this afternoon. My mom is still freaked out though and would likely feel much better if I did go get care. But I don't want to clog things up and I don't want to expose myself on the off-chance I don't have COVID-19.
Read 23 tweets
9 Feb 20
This is just a thread of photos I took when I was in Wuhan in October. It was one of my favorite cities that I visited in China (second only to Xi'an).
You can hear my gasp as I survey the lights.
Read 35 tweets
21 Jan 20
@m_simonephd is submitting a K soon, and I offered to share some of the feedback I got from reviews for my K99 submission. Since some of this might apply to other K mechanisms (and other people!), I thought I'd tweet broadly:
1. Recommendation letters: It is critically important that these letters talk about not just you but also your primary mentors. Even if letter writers don't know your mentor(s) they should express confidence in their skills, mentorship, etc.
2. Letters from mentors: These letters need to look like your mentors sat down together and discussed you and your training plan. They should be coordinated, should mention each other, and really make it seem like you have a cohesive, involved, invested team of mentors.
Read 34 tweets
25 Aug 19
My friend, the brilliant & talented @CNortonDane is a GENUWINE project manager (like she is a certified proj manager, which is super cool!). In advance of a training she did for @CU_Nursing postdocs in Jan, we did a consult on applying PM to an academic context. /1
We talked through my list of projects (which she calls a "backlog") & some strategies for organizing, prioritizing, and taking control of them--to get things done! I had/have so many projects it can feel paralyzing at times, and can feel hard to make true progress on any. /2
After my consult with her, I slept better than I had in a while (as per my apple watch) and I felt like things were more manageable. In the ensuing months, I submitted (and resubmitted) my K and submitted 5 first-authored pubs (and multiple other pubs). /3 #AcademicTwitter
Read 25 tweets

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