Thursday, October 20, 2011

assorted updates

and answers to your burning questions

1. so, how's the notebook?

fine, no one actually asked me this. but i just wanted to say how much i LOVE my newest acquisition from rhodia! each page contains an 'intro' section, a main 'notes' area, and a side column labeled 'action' [which i really use to write my own commentary/questions to ask]. the paper is super-smooth and there is no bleed-through with my pen of choice, and for me the ruling is just perfect -- not too narrow nor too wide.

[just FYI, i bought this notebook myself -- even though the above sounds like a paid product endorsement, it's not!]

2. what are you doing to provide structure to your lab days/weeks?
first of all, i would consider myself to be still a lab novice! i am still not very fast at many things and really don't do a lot of multitasking, because each task [loading a real-time RT-PCR plate, for example] takes a significant amount of brainpower for me. that said, for me a few specific things that have helped are:

dedicated weekly planning time every monday morning, i arrive at work and pull out my planner [which has things like meetings, specifically-timed experiments, and appointments] and i set to filling out the giant weekly planning pad that lives on my desk. 'fixed' things [appointments, time-sensitive experiments, etc] go on there first, and then i sit and think about what else needs to be done over the course of the week. the rest of the hours then get filled in until i'm pretty much booked!

specific daily goals + objectives
because of the planning above, every day i go in with a set of very specific goals + objectives for myself rather than an amorphous 'day' that i'm just supposed to fill up with doing lab stuff.

example [yesterday]:
-- 9 AM: number crunching / putting handwritten data into excel
-- 10 AM: loading several real-time plates
-- 11 AM: scanning a certain batch of slides
-- 12 PM: lunch
-- 12:30 PM: lab meeting
-- 2:30 PM: experiment i had planned for that day
-- 4:30 PM: enter data
-- 5:15 PM: leave!

i physically check off each task on the calendar as i get it done -- so satisfying :)

refusing to rush one danger of the daily goals/objectives is that i may get behind and then feel like rushing through things. for me, this is a recipe for a) a million mistakes b) terrible frustration c) subpar work d) an overall unpleasant experience. since realizing this [and realizing that really, i have enough time! after all, only a small portion of the day's tasks are actually 'fixed'/mandatory], i have been much better about slowing down and doing things more carefully. angeliki actually wrote a post on this last night!

somewhat paradoxical is the fact that i've noticed the day going by much faster overall when i don't rush! interesting. like angeliki, this is still a work in progress, but i think i am getting there!

breaking up scary projects
i tend to get intimidated by bigger projects, which leads to a lot of stress [and sometimes procrastination, which makes things worse!]. it's similar to all of the above tips, but what tends to work for me is breaking things down into steps and creating a concrete schedule for when i will get each step done.

i did this with my grants last year, with my peds boards prep [although i used a calendar to create a separate study schedule for that], and i often do it with bigger powerpoint presentations [i actually did a whole post on my method for powerpoint prep].

3. what are you using to study spanish?
someone asked yesterday, and i realized i had mentioned it once but wasn't too clear on it from that point out. i'm using rosetta stone. i can't speak to its effectiveness at this point, but hey -- i'm actually motivated to do it and it's at least borderline fun. sometimes i find that the pace moves a bit too slowly for me, but this may be because i'm still so early in the program.

i try to practice with josh a little at dinnertime [he speaks a good amount of spanish] but i know i will eventually need more real-life interaction to progress. for now, though, i'm learning basic words and grammar and i have to believe that something is better than nothing!

4. have you and josh picked out names yet?
yes -- for a BOY! we had 3 that i really liked, actually. but girls' names i'm completely stuck on right now. i need to start poring over swistle [my favorite baby name blog] and our naming book!

to be honest, i still haven't come to grips with the whole 'girl' thing yet! but that doesn't mean i haven't already been looking at girly things. a little bit.

since baby will likely experience only one true winter ever*, she might as well enjoy it in style

[* AGH, that sounded morbid! but i meant because we're planning on moving to miami august of 2013]

5. where's that hypothalamic amenorrhea post!?
coming! i mean, i haven't written it yet, but i will. i want it to be good [and scientifically based] though, so i need to wait until i have a nice chunk of weekend time free. i promise it will be up eventually, though.



workout: 3.1 mile run, 9:49/mi

dinner chili leftovers. and josh made it home this time!

espaƱol + endo: check + check. one more day and i'm done with thyroid!