Saturday, December 22, 2012

it's not the fault of the holidays .. it's just me.

this and last week i've lacked focus. every day i get up, i try to work, but little if anything happens. there are some ideas on a few sheets of paper from the last few mornings ..

.. what's not made it to the recycling bin, anyway ..

.. and then there are a few manuscripts to rewrite, papers that i told myself i'd actually read [1], co-authors to whom i should really write back ..

the only thing that's not on my to-do list is preparing another talk, which is relieving. it's not that i don't like giving talks; i could use a break from the road, though.

i'd like to think that i'm still tired from recent travels .. which i probably am, but that's not entirely it [2]. it really is a lack of focus, or more accurately: commitment.

lately i've found it difficult to choose what to do. i have too much on my plate these days ..
  • a few months ago i started a few collaborations with colleagues at a neighboring university .. all on separate topics and with separate people; i'm still not exactly sure how it happened. at any rate, at some point i felt like i was doing nothing but attending and preparing for meetings (or writing talks).
  • during my trips in the last few weeks, i started working on two new joint projects, both of which are very .. exploratory at this point. (it seems these people and i have a lot in common, but we've yet to nail down a problem and do some real damage, at least by my standards.)
  • last week i got back to a collaborator regarding a joint project. we started it a more than a year ago, made some progress, but i lost track of things after the job search got serious (which was late, last winter). fortunately for me, he didn't seem too upset over it.
  • there are two more collaborations, each of which started years ago and have completely dropped the ball on (without any good reason).
  • then there is a solo project or two whose motivations aren't exactly obvious (so i'll not subject others to them) but which i still find fascinating.
so: eight collaborations and a few solo projects, which by miller's law, makes a rather delicate balance. my only conclusion is that i'm too approachable, too irresponsible, and very bad at saying no. i don't know how my betters seem so able to pull this off.

i feel diffuse, uncentered .. and ultimately, inefficient.

i could really use a few (non-evil) clones of myself. since i don't, i guess i'll have to resort to my usual trick of disappearing .. and as the holidays are approaching, i think i'll skip town for a few days .. and be a brother and a son again. (-:

[1] in other words, reading beyond the title/abstract/intro and with the intention of learning a new result and its proof.
[2] it's true that the physical act of traveling feels incredibly draining on me.

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