Novel Ideas [19]: New Semester’s Resolutions

Novel Ideas

A new semester has begun! Like, today. As you read this, I’m sitting in my very first class. I’m probably looking at a syllabus and feeling very overwhelmed. Somehow a new syllabus always makes me feel like I have to do ALL THE THINGS right away. Note to self: you have seventeen weeks. Chill out, dude.

But it wouldn’t be a new semester without some freshly sharpened pencils and freshly sharpened attitudes. After a break that involved mucho sleeping in, reading novels, napping during reality television, visits with friends, and harassing my cats, I’m ready to jump back in with a vengeance. I always have bright-eyed ideas like “I WILL READ EVERYTHING ASSIGNED…TWICE! WHILE TAKING NOTES!” and “I WILL WRITE ALL OF MY PAPERS EARLY AND HAVE TWELVE PEER EDITORS AND THEY WILL BE PERFECT!”

And none of that crap ever happens. Let’s face it — the goals we set on day one fly out the window by week three. You just can’t do everything. In fact, it’s not even smart to do everything. I’m certainly a fan of the whole “work smarter, not harder” mentality. Skimming, procrastinating, and half-assing are sometimes part of the game. I didn’t get where I am without knowing what deserves my attention and what I can let slide.

That being said, there are a few things I’d like to work on. We’ll call them baby steps toward better habits (/breaking some of my worst habits). I’m trying to keep this list realistic, simple, and manageable. Here are my goals for spring 2013:

1. Work out every day. All the sitting and studying has really gotten to me. Plus I’ll be sharper mentally.

2. Sit in a desk chair while working. Fluffy chairs and beds are not conducive to productivity.

3. Work from 6-9pm Sunday-Thursday. Start building this habit. If my work is done, I’ll start on the next thing.

4. Go to the library on two different Saturdays before Spring Break to start research for final papers. 

5. Finish final papers/projects 1 week before the deadline. This way I have more time for peer editing.

That’s it. Five goals that I think are totally do-able. They aren’t hard rules — for example, I may not work out every day, but I want to strive to work out 5-6 days out of the week. Same with the 6-9pm study time. The goal with that is to clearly define time for studying versus not studying so I can relieve some of my grad school guilt. The set study time will be a difficult habit to build, so I might have to start my bribing myself to do it. Otherwise, I’m hoping other goals (reading more carefully, writing on a schedule, etc) will fall into place under a rigid time block for studying.

I’m excited about the new semester and the cool classes I’m taking (Research Methods, Literacy Research, and Critical Theory & Media). I hope to have lots of cool ideas and thoughts to share as I go. To those of you also starting a new semester, I wish you good luck! Cheers!

What are your studying and/or work goals for a more productive 2013?

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6 responses to “Novel Ideas [19]: New Semester’s Resolutions

  1. I feel you on this. I’m not a PhD student yet but I hope to as of Sept 2013, if I get into my school and what not. Sigh, your post makes me miss academia SO MUCH. Love this blog, love this post, keep your resolutions alive!

  2. Good luck with the new semester!

    As a suggestion for working out — I don’t know if you have access to a gym as a student, although I’ll assume you do. But if you want to fit in a quick workout at home, there are TONS of workout vids on youtube that are intense, packed, 20 minutes or less workouts. One of my current favorites is this channel:

    I’m trying to get into the habit of doing one every day, but it’s hard to get started!

  3. The workout goal is also one of mine. As is more study time. I find this very difficult, because I want to experience the social aspects of college, but I can get a lot done if I hide away in my dorm room and do homework all night. Still working out a balance there.

  4. Happy New Semester! I hope scheduling your work time helps a little with the guilt AND makes you more productive. And I hope you can keep up with working out… that really eased a lot of my stress in grad school and I often came up with some great ideas while exercising. Just try not to do what I did and get stressed out and quit exercising to focus on school stuff, shutting down one of my stess-relief activities!

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