Last year I made two academic/work-related new year's promises, albeit a couple of months late (in the beginning of March). In this blog post, I will first follow up on last year's promises and then make some new promises for 2014.
The first promise for 2013 was to clean out my room. I specifically promised to spend 30 minutes each day sorting through piles of paper to either organise or clean out stuff, but I also realised I would not be able to do it every day and my more pragmatic aim was to do it (at least) three day per week.
The second promise for 2013 was to read more scientific articles. I specifically aimed for 50 pages or mixed academic articles per week (200 pages per month), but only during the spring term (Jan - June) since I have a lot of teaching during the autumn term.
How did I fare with those promises? The answer would be "not so good" with the first promise and "pretty darn ok" with the second. My room is still a mess. Already when I made my promise, I realised that 90 minutes per week might not be enough to get my room in shape and I wrote that "if necessary, I might consider making the very same promise also next year". But I won't - although sorely needed. I won't be in Sweden during the first half of the year and I have my usual heavy autumn teaching load when I come back so it's not really practically doable this year.
So why did I fail? Well, I don't exactly remember any longer why I didn't manage to get more done during the spring, but I know for a fact that I have been very very busy during the autumn. On top of a heavy teaching load, I have myself been a student in the course "Research supervision", and, I have also spent a lot of time planning and preparing for my family's extended visit abroad during the first half of 2014. I have been pressed for time during a major part of the autumn and liberating an hour or two each week to fix my room hasn't even been near the top of my list of priorities.
As for reading articles, I have written blog posts about the articles I read in January, February and March. As to April, May and June, I actually have read almost as much as I aimed for, but I "haven't had time" written blog posts about it.
So, my first new year's promise for 2014 is to (again) aim for reading 200 pages of academic articles per month during January - June this year and to write about it in the ongoing series of "Articles I have read lately" here on the blog. This includes working off the backlog consisting of the three yet-unwritten blog posts where I list the stuff I ready in April - June 2013.
I won't promise to continue to read academic books at my current pace (i.e. at least 150 pages per week). That promise would be silly as it is second nature to steadily read academic books at this point, but my second new year's promise is to work of the backlog of unwritten blog posts about "Books I have read lately" and to also keep up and write new blog posts about all the new books I will read during 2014. Last time I wrote about "Books I've read recently" (in November), the blog post actually treated books that I read back in May and June (!). I have read quite a large number of books since then and expect to read books at a continued fast pace when I'm on a sabbatical during the spring. My second promise is thus to catch up with writing about the books that I'm reading.
My third new year's promise is to husband the time on my sabbatical and use it effectively. I don't know exactly how to operationalise this promise but I have two slightly fuzzy ideas I'm working with. The first is simply to accomplish as much as possible of that which has been taken down on my academic to-do list for the spring. I can perhaps use the list to keep my priorities clear and work on at least two different "projects" on that list each month? The second take on "using my time effectively" overlaps with the first and would just be to write a large number of academic papers during 2014. I wrote half a dozen papers during 2013 and my goal is to write more papers and to get them published in more academically prestigious venues than last year's papers were.
My fourth and last new year's promise is to maximise the use of services for "collaborative consumption" during our six-month long stay in the US. We'll try to buy as little new stuff as possible since we will anyway have to leave most of it behind. I will instead explore yard sales, craigslist, freecycle, car sharing services and everything else under the sun that would allow me to participate in a collaborative, low-consumption, low-impact lifestyle during our stay in the US. I also, partly for research reasons, want to bolster my experiences and insights into this area of the economy! We have already agreed to buy a 10-year old car from one of the neighbours and we'll sell it back to them for half the price when we leave the US six months later. It's a great deal both for us and for them as long as there are no major mishaps with the car during the six months we will own it.