June 2020 round-up

I hope you continue to do OK during these strange times. I am healthy and content, though I am struggling with the passage of time. On the one hand, I can’t believe that just over 4 months ago I was doing X or believing in Y completely different from today – it feels like many years, ago. On the other hand, I can’t believe that Spring is gone and that it is summer, already – the days all look the same from inside this flat. I am really glad that I keep a journal – it helps me note the passage of time, and keep tabs on my progress on key measures.

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Lockdown eased this month, in the UK. It didn’t change my daily routine, because the kiddo is still being home schooled, and I am still not allowed to go to the office. The shops opened, but I haven’t had any reason to go shopping (other than my usual grocery shopping). The main differences are that we could visit houses and, all going well, we will be moving at the end of July (please keep your fingers crossed for me – I really need things to not go pear shaped, this time); and that there is a lot more traffic on the roads, and a lot more people on pavements. There have been no peaks in infection numbers in the UK (apart from the one in Leicester). Though, worryingly, there has been a surge in numbers in Portugal, including where my in-laws live, and where my parents live.

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This month, for me, was marked by teaching an MBA module. I had done 2 webinars (this one, and this one), and hosted a few online meetings. However, this was my first proper teaching, online. It was tiring and I was a bit anxious for 3 weeks. But I think that it went well. It actually had some advantages. For instance, I could see everyone’s names (rather than having to memorise them); the breaks didn’t drag, so we could resume classes promptly, afterwards; and I was much more comfortable. Now, comes the marking.

 

Still on the teaching front, I continued to have meetings with my dissertation students; and my PhD students. I also examined a PhD. I moderated a colleague’s module. And I had two very long Panel of Examiners.

 

Writing wise, this was a productive month: Two papers submitted, one abstract submitted, one proposal for a special issue submitted, and one paper accepted (more on this, soon). I also attended a Paper Development Workshop at the end of the month – it continues into the beginning of July, and I am getting lots of good ideas about how to rescue a paper that I have been working on for a while. My journal reminded me that I also reviewed a paper, which I had completely forgotten about.

 

I met with a friend, for a socially distanced walk in the park. That was nice. I seriously annoyed another friend when I called him out for an ‘all lives matter’ post on Facebook. That was sad. The teen and the kiddo had exams, at home. That was weird. I am doing lots of training (mostly, online teaching pedagogy and technology). That… is just life, nowadays.

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I leave you with a video. Students, staff and alumni of the music department at Brunel University London created and performed this musical adaptation of the poem “People need People”, which was authored by poet Benjamin Zephaniah (a Creative Writing Professor at Brunel). It is a beautiful rendition, and perfect for these times of social isolation:

People need people from Colin Riley Music Projects on Vimeo.

 

Keep your fingers crossed for my house move, please.

5 thoughts on “June 2020 round-up

  1. Good luck with the moving!
    I keep a planner, but am also trying to keep a (memories) journal. I struggle to find time and am trying to find a journal ‘style’ that somehow helps my self-motivation or that helps me in some other way. I am wondering if you have any tips? It would be nice to know more about it. 🙂

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    1. Hi Silvia,

      My journaling practice is focused on my work. I started it when I was doing my PhD, and was inspired by a former flatmate who was a cancer researcher. She kept a lab diary, where she would describe what she had done that day in the lab, record the results from her experiments, note down emerging thoughts about those results, and plans for her next steps. And that is a bit what I do, too – but rather than making notes about cells, solvents and test tubes, I write about literature searches, and readings, and plans for interview questions, and so on. I also write about teaching matters, admin issues and, of course, personal issues like my hopes (and frustrations) with moving houses.

      As for the format, I use a word document. It’s not pretty, but it is functional. The fact that I am always using word for work, anyway, makes it very accessible and reduces the friction to write something on the journal every day, and throughout the day.

      At the start of the month, I write about my goals for the month, identify the main challenges and plan how to work around them. Then, I write short entries throughout the day. At the end of the month, I review my entries: what I achieved, where I failed, why I failed… that’s the basis for my round-up blog posts. Then, I close that file, and start a new one.

      In addition to helping me keep tabs on ideas and productivity, I find that this process really helps me with writing. I use it for “free writing”, which helps me get started on a new piece of writing. For instance, this was my entry from yesterday – if you check the blog post for the following day, you will find some similarities, there 😉

      “Sunday –05/07/2020 – 10h44m: I am trying to find the inspiration to write a blog post for tomorrow. I have several ideas, but I am struggling to focus.

      I feel that, from all the ideas in my list, I should start with the blog post about the chatbots paper. In fact, maybe I could split it in two. One about the antecedents, which is the focus of the paper; and the other one about blame attribution, which I could link to one of the older blog posts.

      The first blog post would, essentially, be the written version of my BCS presentation:
      Chatbots are everywhere, and used in every industry. That they promise to improve customer service, by offering 24-hour service and quick answers.

      Reality is, however, less… polished. Even a bit frustrating.”

      Good luck with your journaling practice. And thank you so much for reading and commenting on the blog. I feel very tempted to start sketching, after I read your blog entries.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you so much for sharing your journaling process Ana. I really appreciate it.

        I am sure it helps your research, but I love the way it helps you organise your ideas and to generate blog posts too. I enjoy writing on my blog and feel like it helps me in many ways, but too often it takes a very low position in my list of priorities.

        I have a filofax type of planner where I organise my to-do lists for each day and what I have actually achieved for that day. That’s where I get my month summary from, but it is really only a couple of sentences a day and I wouldn’t call it a ‘reflection’. A work journal sounds like a great idea!

        If sketching interest you, check out this book: https://www.amazon.com/Draw-Your-Day-Inspiring-Keeping/dp/0399581294 You may be tempted to add some visuals to your journaling. 😉

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