Monday, July 7, 2008

Staying motivated

Herb isn't around much, Leo is gone for a month, most grad students are gone... it's lonely. With few scheduled responsibilities, deadlines, or labmates around it really takes a lot of effort for me to stay on track. I'm just not sure what to do with myself when I have so much unscheduled time. I like the feeling of getting things done, but sometimes when I don't have much going on I'm not motivated to do anything.

Today I hung a newly acquired dry erase board (from a craigslist RSS) on my office wall and spent some time thinking about the big picture for my research. When I think big I like to diagram things on a blackboard or dry erase board so I'm thrilled to finally have one in my office. After some thinking and drawing I fell asleep for about 10 minutes on my office couch staring at the board with a marker in my hand. It's a great couch.

Then I decided to switch gears and work on grant reports. Since I won't be collecting any data this summer I can write the first report for Grant B. I finished a draft and will look it over again before I send it off.

What I really need to do is get this review paper off my desk. I'm hoping I'll have a chance to talk to Herb about it tomorrow because I'm not sure where to go with it until then. I've identified three journals that it could potentially go to. One is definitely a reach and the paper needs a much broader conceptual base to reach that audience. The middle tier journal doesn't often accept reviews but they publish tons of stuff in this subfield. Taxonomically Specific Journal is currently my third choice, though it has the advantage of putting my name out there in the critter arena. My goal is to have it sent somewhere by the end of July.

I also really need to work on the full application for Grant C, for which I got pre-application approval a few months ago. What I am proposing to do with Grant C is kind of an expensive bonus project. If I get funding for it, I'll go for it, but if not I'll still have a fine Ph.D. I haven't written the proposal yet because I think I need to bring in another collaborator who can use a different subset of data that will be collected along with the data I need. This project would also use leading edge technology that is only in prototype phase right now, so it's darn expensive and risky. We'll see what happens if I can actually get this proposal together.


DancingFish said...

I find it especially hard to stay on track when my advisor is away. My whole lab (minus me) leaves for a 3 week field trip on the 15th. My plan is to power through a lot of analysis that can be done at home and avoid the lonely labs and offices.

Karina said...

When I try to work at home I find that things like watering my plants and cleaning the sink become big distractions. At school I can still be distracted by the internet (like right now) but if I'm here I feel like I've got to get something school-related done. Maybe if I cleared off my desk enough I could get more work done at home.