Writing. At the same time, it’s one of my strongest strengths and weakest weaknesses. Once I get going I do well, but the getting going isn’t always easy. I’ve been making good progress in changing my habits and making small improvements. A couple of things I’ve been doing to help:
The 30 minute time periods of #readingwritingreps help by letting make incremental progress without feeling the need to sit down and write a whole paper in one sprint.
Similarly, the pomodoro technique helps me stay focused and mindful of how I’m spending my time.
I’m learning the value of generating text: reading notes, emails to my supervisor and peers, scribbles in my notebooks, these blog posts, and so on. Any text that can be used to contribute to papers and therefore save me time and effort later one. I’ve described it to someone as like making regular savings. Not to mention the value it has for consolidation of learning.
It’s occured to me several times that this blog could be used to much better effect for generating text, if I were to blog some key ideas or problems, share my essays, and just generally get more of my thoughts out on this platform.
Where the reading and writing can be a struggle, my exercise regime has become a real pleasure and I’m having no problems with compliance. It’s a rare day that I miss my daily goal of 30 minutes of exercise. I hit the gym about three days each week, bike to work about the same, hoist my kettlebell once or twice a week, swim once a week (just playing with my son, mostly, but occasionally I do a few laps), and use my stretchy bands every so often. The image above is my workout this evening with my 20kg kettlebell, and yesterday in the gym I did:
Barbell back squats: 80kg, 1-2-3/1-2-3/1-2-3
Bench press: 52.5kg, 1-2-3/1-2-3/1-2-3
Dumbbell row: 26kg, 5×10
Squats again, 60kg, 3×10
Incline bench, 40kg, 8/8/7
I’m really enjoying the lifting, I think because I’m not trying to follow a strict routine, such as Starting Strength. Rather, I’m following a set of principles that keeps me on a certain path and keeps me moving forward (putting more weight on the bar), while allowing me some freedom and variety.
I’m enjoying it so much, I’ve been toying with the idea of entering a powerlifting meet, as a challenge to myself and to give me motivation to train hard.
I’ve drafted my first ever academic publication and had my first ever experience of peer-review. The feedback was that we have some work to do. Not that our manuscript was bad, just that it’s focus wasn’t well matched with the intent of the book. After reading the feedback and considering how I’d go about revising our manuscript, which I think turned our pretty well and has something useful to say. I actually felt that it might be a better use of my time to rewrite the chapter from scratch and submit the manuscript for publication elsewhere. So while this is, on the face of it, a knock-back that entails a bit of work, I feel pretty positive about it.
While reading and writing sides of this scheme are ebbing and flowing, I’ve been pretty consistent in getting my reps in. I’m riding my bike to work fairly regularly, hitting the gym three or four times a week, and getting in brief workouts at home with my kettle-bell. Not to mention visits to the pool or playground with my energetic three year old. Today’s workout:
Barbell squats: 72.5kg, 1-2-3/1-2-3/1-2-3
Bench press: 52.5kg, 1-2-3/1-2-3/1-2-3
Dumbell rows (superset with bench): 25kg, 10/10/10
Farmers walk: 30kg each hand, 5 trips of about 40 paces.
It’s both Waitangi Day and Bob Marley’s birthday. If I were in New Zealand I’d be enjoying a day off and hopefully getting some writing done. But here I am in Melbourne, so I’m at work. Nonetheless, I’ve made some good progress on a key project.
REading and writing
My supervisor and I a co-writing a chapter on Dialogical Self Theory in Career Education. My contribution is basically a potted-history of key approaches to career education: Cognitive Information Processing, DOTS, career-learning theory, and what I’ve termed dialogical career-learning theory. This last one is where Frans Meijers, Reinekke Lengelle and others have integrated Dialogical Self Theory into Laws’s career-learning theory, arguing that “the development of a career story must be understood not only as a cognitive learning process but as a dialogical learning process as well” (Meijers & Lengelle, 2012, p. 169).
We’ve completed a first draft and are now editing for cohesion. The last step will be an introduction and conclusion and then we’re done. All going well, this will be the first publication for me in this doctoral project.
Do a single, rest a bit, do a double, rest a bit, then do a triple. That is six total reps and the quality should all be excellent. For a solid workout, run through this three times: 1-2-3-1-2-3-1-2-3.
So a deadline sailed past me and I’m riding pretty high on the terror curve. I’m ostensibly coauthoring a chapter with my doctoral supervisor, but my imposter syndrome and procrastination monkey are ganging up on me.
I’m confident about my cognitive abilities; I know I can read and write well. It’s the doing it, or not, that is doing me in. It’s something I have to address, and soon. With a full-time job and a family that I want to be present for, I need to build some more sustainable habits.
It’s not all doom and gloom, however, as I’ve been pretty good on this side of the ledger. I had a good workout on the weekend:
Barbell squats: 72.5kg, 5/5/8
Bench press: 47.5kg, 5/5/12
Seated cable rows: a bunch
Close-grip bench press: 40kg, 12/12/10
Face pulls: a bunch
I’ve also been enjoying riding my new bike. The single speed can be hard work sometimes but somehow it’s a lot more fun than a geared bike. I got a pair of clipless pedals and some snazzy shoes to go with them, which has made my pedaling a little more efficient.
I’ve been chugging along since my last post, but haven’t felt the need to blog every day as that would get awfully repetitive (more so than it is already).
REading and Writing
I’ve been continuing to edit a literature review of career education, alongside migrating my reference management from Paperpile to Zotero and then again to Citavi. I’m exploring Citavi and like what I see so far. It’s as much a knowledge manager as it is a reference manager. It seems to me to do in one app what I have been using two or three apps to do:
take notes on readings, including exporting highlights and notes from PDFs
organise and collate these notes into essay and article skeletons
It’s not perfect, particularly the citation download feature, but not so much as to be a deal breaker. I’m going to use it to read and draft an entire project so see how it goes.
In addition to gym visits and some kettlebell slinging, I’ve gone out and bought a new bike. I sold my comfortable but dorky and slow commuter on Gumtree and replaced it with a sporty single speed. I was a little unsure about getting a single speed, but a few test rides had me sold. I actually find it easier to ride than my old 8 speed, although hills can be work. Nonetheless, I see it as a good example of what Josh Hillis and Dan John call inefficient exercise, which they claim is fundamental for fat loss.
Today I was in the gym:
Barbell back squat: 70kg, 5/5/10
Standing barbell press: 32.5kg, 5/5/6; 20kg, 2×10
And that was it. Did I mention I follow a minimalist approach to strength training?
Although I didn’t do any actual doctoral reading or writing today, I did spend a good part of the day switching my reference management tool from Paperpile back to Zotero, so I’ll count it as meeting my goal. I found a reasonably efficient way to do export my .pdfs out of Paperpile and into Zotero, but it did require a fair bit of manual editing. I’ll write a post about why I made the switch back in the next week or so.
A moderate intensity kettlebell day today, following Dan John’s creatively named Buttburner 4000. With my 20kg kettlebell:
I’m not going to log my Reading, Writing, and Reps for each day, but rather write a summary of my week’s career education study and exercise efforts.
Reading and writing
I exceeded my 30 minute daily targets this week, by several hours each day. That’s actually kind of the point of having such a small target: if I’m able to sit down and commit to 30 minutes, I’m likely to continue beyond it if I get into the flow.
My reading and writing went together this week, as I’m revising a literature review on the pedagogy of career education that I wrote for one of the taught courses preceeding my candidature. While I’m reasonably happy with it, there were a couple of gaps and flaws because parts were quite rushed. So I’ve been going back and re-reading a few sources that I glossed over a little and re-writing the a few sections. In particular, I’ve been:
shoring up my discussion of the statistical findings in the career intervention effectiveness literature, (such as Oliver & Spokane, 1988; Whiston, Sexton, & Lassof, 1998; Brown & Ryan Krane, 2000; and Brown et al., 2003). Stats isn’t my strong suit so I need to take extra care when writing about quantitative research.
going into more depth about the “post-DOTS” career learning theory of Bill Law (1996a, 1999), particularly how it represented a development of the DOTS model.
linking Bill Law’s career learning to the more recent career learning theories of Frans Miejers and his colleagues (Miejers & Lengelle, 2015; Winters, Miejers, Lengelle, & Baert, 2011), particularly with regard to their incorporation of Hubert Herman’s Dialogical Self Theory (Hermans & Kempen, 1993).
Here are my workouts since starting this resolution:
As is the tradition at the beginning of a new year, I’ve made a set of resolutions to help me live life a little better this year than I did last year.
The rules are simple. Each day, 30 minutes each of Reading, Writing, and Reps.
This will be mostly academic articles, chapters, and books related to my doctoral studies, with a good complement of blog posts and books on academic writing, research. I hope to get a little recreational reading in there somewhere.
The biggest challenge for me in my doctoral studies so far has been building and maintaining healthy writing habits. Academically, I’ve been a lifelong crisis writer and really need to make a change if I’m to survive the next few years.
I spent more time out of the gym than in it in 2016 and want to get back to some exercise habits. I’ll be basing my workouts on Dan John’s writing, particularly Easy Strength, with its focus on consistent, moderate effort with barbells, kettlebells, and bodyweight, rather than screaming intensity. For the purpose of this resolution, “reps” refers to any kind of physical exercise, not just weights.
I’ve also been trying to figure out what to do with this blog. A Reading, Writing, and Reps journal might be the way for me to ease back into it.