#AcWriMo mid-term (sort of) evaluation

We’re more than halfway into #AcWriMo, and I’m pleased to say that I’m making progress beyond my wildest expectations. I have already met my first goal (send draft of grant narrative out for review), and I’m working towards goals 2 and 3 (supplementary grant docs and conference talk, respectively). Today’s “writing” task is to sit down and, just as I did with the first goal, come up with micro-goals for the other goals.

I’ve been most impressed with my ability to stick to my self-imposed deadlines during this process. As a recovering perfectionist, I’ve often set deadlines for myself, only to ignore them because “this is not ready yet” (translation: it’s not perfect) or because “I’m too busy to meet that deadline” (translation: I don’t have time to make it perfect so I’ll procrastinate). This time, I’m making AND meeting them—I have yet to miss a deadline. (I’ve even resorted to working on Friday nights to meet my weekly goals, if I can’t get everything done during the work week.) The biggest test was meeting my Friday deadline. My draft wasn’t up to my usual standards, and I thought for a brief second of letting that deadline slide. Instead, I sent it out in its existing state, trusting that the feedback I’d get from a slightly more tweaked version of the draft would not be significantly more helpful than feedback I’d get from the draft in a “rawer” state. For those who know me well, this is a huge step forward for me!

I’m also impressed that I’ve been able to prioritize, even during the crazy busy time that is November. You see, our term ends in November, finals are going on as we speak, so I have an insane amount of grading and end of the term accounting to do. Also, I’ve had some other deadlines I’ve had to meet. AcWriMo has allowed me to prioritize and to “selfishly” claim some time for my research and writing, in a time when it would normally fall by the wayside. And I’ve been honest with my students: I’ve mentioned that I’ve had to meet some research deadlines, so grading would be a bit slower than normal. For the most part, they’ve understood and been supportive.

One more thing: I’ve been able to stay on track, stay sane, slay my procrastination demons, etc…all while lacking a key stress regulator in my life: exercise, and specifically running. I’ve been recovering from bronchitis, and just started exercising again last week. But I’ve also been injured, and haven’t run since August. Normally this would drive me stark raving mad, so I’m really pleased with myself that I’ve kept my stress in check and worked so productively without these very important mental/physical health elements in place.

The second half of AcWriMo will be even more challenging than the first half. Final grades are due next Wednesday, and I have 2 projects and 65 exams to grade between now and then. Recommendation letter season is starting, and I have a long list of students for whom I’m writing letters this year. Plus there is the Thanksgiving holiday this week. Keeping my focus, sticking to my goals (micro and macro), and remembering that “done is better than perfect” will surely get me through these challenges and onto the finish line!

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