Plans for 2012

It is once again a new year, so it is time to reflect on the one just past and set goals for the one to come.  I will try to keep this brief, but… well, if you read this blog, you probably know me pretty well, so you know that’s not terribly likely.

Bad Stuff from 2011

(Please note that this is in terms of personal goals, not the world in general.  In general, my life is quite excellent, with little to complain about.)

  • I didn’t finish my PhD.  Technically, I’m on leave of absence now.  However, I did make some good progress.
  • I didn’t write enough.  One of my goals from last year was to write more, and while I wrote a bit, I don’t think it was more.  Unless you count Twitter, which are not the kind of words I want to write.
  • I didn’t see the girlfriend nearly enough.  I mean, we’re kicking ass with the long distance thing, because we’re awesome, but we’d both rather like some more in-person face time, rather than just Skype.
  • I wasted a lot of time.  I still need to break my internet time-wasting routines.

Good Stuff from 2011

  • My teaching skills improved.  I taught a couple of courses, and my evaluations were on an upward trajectory.  I look forward to some day teaching courses directly in my specialty.
  • I got a job.  Admittedly, this came at the end of the year, but it is interesting and pays well and means I don’t have to worry about financial stuff for the foreseeable future.
  • I read more stuff.  Perhaps not as much as I would have liked to read, but I think I’ve made a good start at reconnecting with my love of reading.
  • I ran.  And hated it.  There will be no epiphanies from me as I realize “I am a runner.”  I am not.  But I can do it, and it was good for me and improved my health.  (Granted, I’ve let that slide over the holidays, but I’ll get back to some kind of exercise now that they’re over.)

So, in terms of last year’s goals, I more or less managed about half of them, with progress toward others.  The only areas I really fell down were in reducing my time-wasting.  Moving forward into 2012, I’m hoping that the absolute need to structure my life more will help on that front.

Goals for 2012

  • Finish the PhD.  I’m close now.  I know what I need to do.  And now that I’m working full time, I will have to focus and use the limited time I have available rather than goofing off.  I will be ready to defend in the summer, and I will convocate in November.  That is my goal.
  • Get Healthier.  While running in the winter doesn’t work for me, I’m going to try to get some more exercise of some kind.  I’m going to go out and buy a scale to track my weight, and I’m going to avoid bringing a stash of junk food to work.  I will wean myself off my snacking habits.
  • Read More.  I always want to read more.  I should probably figure out how much I read last year, and strive to beat that.
  • Write More.  I need to get back in the saddle on writing.  Maybe I’ll aim for 250 words per day as a minimum.  Or to spend a half hour writing or revising something.
  • Submit my Writing.  I will finish some stories and submit them to magazines or anthologies or somewhere.  It’s all well and good to vomit out first drafts and view that as “writing more”, but I need to kick myself in the pants to revise stories and finish final drafts and send them out into the world.
  • Be More Social.  I think I’ve fallen into a tendency to just sit at home, talk to people online, and avoid going out at all.  This is helpful to my productivity, but probably not my sanity.  I have to try and get off my ass more and go out and do stuff from time to time.  (Now that I have an income, this includes the possibility of seeing the girlfriend more, though now I will be constrained by vacation time rather than finances.)

And so that’s my plan for the year to come.  Mostly the same as last year.  The nice thing about a lot of these is that they can never be “finished” (except for the PhD), so any progress toward them is a good thing.

Plans for 2011

A new year has begun, and while I have seen may people forswear making any resolutions this time around, that didn’t work out so well for me last year (when I forgot), so here I am again.  However, rather than call these resolutions, perhaps “plans” might be a better appellation, as some of them are specific goals to meet, while others are behaviours that need modification.

The first plan is, perhaps, unsurprising.

Plan 1: Finish the !^@% PhD

I’m in year 7, now, which is frankly ridiculous.  I turned down a lucrative job last year in order to finish up, I have a bit of debt that needs paying off, and on my next birthday I’m going to need an extra bit to represent my age in binary.  It is time for me to move on with my life.  If I want to spend more years in school in the future, it needs to be for another degree, not this one.

Pursuant to Plan 1, we come to…

Plan 2: Stop Wasting Time on the Internet

Yes, I’m aware of the irony of complaining that I waste time on the Internet in a blog post, but I don’t consider blogging a waste of time—I’m still producing something, you see.  The time wasting comes from all the online consumption: playing awful Facebook “games”, reading blogs that I’m not interested in, obsessively checking to see if sites I am interested in have updated, and so on.

I’m going to start by enhancing my LeechBlock filters to block all of my time-wasting sites during my working hours, and if I find a new time-wasting site, I’ll add it to the block list ASAP.  I will allow myself to blog or tweet (now that I’m on Twitter) during blocked hours, as that is productive (after a fashion), but that’s it.

This plan may lead to a flurry of blog posts and tweets in lieu of me doing my actual research, but I’ll feel better about that than just wasting time on Facebook every day.

This plan ties closely in with…

Plan 3: Stop Wasting Time In General

Most of my general time-wasting comes from watching reruns of shows I’ve already seen or broadcasts of movies I own on DVD.  I also snack when doing this.  This is a complete waste of time, and not really good for my health.  I’m good with watching new episodes of shows that I enjoy, but other than that, I need to keep the TV off so that I don’t spend to much time sitting around like a lump.

This brings us to…

Plan 4: Get Healthy

My life is generally sedentary.  I work at the computer all the time.  And then I use it to waste time recreationally.  Then I take a break from relaxing to watch TV and have a snack.  This does not a healthy lifestyle make.

The first thing I need to do on this front is break my obsessive-compulsive snacking habit.  Once I fall into a pattern of behaviour, I repeat it automatically, and that is what has happened over the last few years: I snack as a distraction from my work, far more than I ever did during undergrad or high school.  I need to break that habit.

Then, I need to get some more exercise, and eat healthier in general.  I’m getting older and sooner than I’d like my body won’t be able to rebound from everything I put it through.  So I need to go to a gym, or take up Taekwon-Do again, perhaps.  I’ll have to sort that out soon—the extra energy will allow me to work better on my research.

Plan 5: Read More

I will grant that recreational reading is a distraction from my research, but I would very much prefer to train myself so that when I want to take a break, my first instinct is to reach for a book and not to turn on the TV.  Besides, if I read more, I’ll have something to blog about, and that counts as productivity.

Which brings us to…

Plan 6: Write More

This is a fairly broad plan, but is meant to cover blog posts, tweets, research papers, my doctoral thesis, and works of fiction.  I feel my life has been too passive for the last few years, and I want to start producing something again.  A large chunk of that productivity will be toward the software I’m developing for my research, but the written word is the other thing I have the wherewithal to produce, so I’ll do my damnedest to produce more of it.

Expect updates on these plans throughout the years, and please hassle me if I seem to be letting them slide.

Happy New Year to all who read this, and best of luck in the coming year!