The Perils of Self Management (or, My Self Subsidized Sabatical [SSS])

I am almost a week into my SSS. My tenure track appointment starts in the fall, I have no teaching obligations, and no one is paying me for my time now. This is the ultimate mental retreat. Its a true sabbatical as most days kids are in school from 9-3 or 4:30.

I feel like a man walking out of a long tunnel into a bright beach. The sun is blinding, I hear waves crashing, sea gulls are crying in the distance. The ocean beckons, the sound of the waves on the pebbles like the sound of active melting, geologic time speed up to the audio range or mere mortals, dynamism made concrete. I sense all kinds of motion and activity in many dimensions, and, as my eyes,ears,and sense of smell adjust and parse the sensory overload, the next thought is uncovered.

What now?

This is the peril of self-management. Its endemic to being an academic. And I think my track record to date has been awful. How to take an ocean of noise and possibility and chart a course to somewhere. How to pierce its crystal surface and find a meal, something digestible.

I must become myself. I read in the Economist (don’t think I can link) about a Chinese scientist who was exploring the biochemsity of addiction. One line stood out- about how learning is fundamentally about growing neurons. So, to learn how to be a better writer it is not enough to think it or will it. One has to do it and in the doing there is mind over (self) matter.

Oh, It is linkable. Here is the line:

Several of them take part in strengthening the connections between nerve cells, which is the underlying basis of learning. Unlearning something by breaking these connections is hard.

“Them” are genes that directly relate to biochemical pathways. Like, instead of the genome, the scientist is identifying the biobehavioral-ome (all the genes that code all the proteins that code all the biochemical processes that code the behavior).

SO, I have a gift of time. It s like an asset I need to make the most out of. Not like, it is. And, like my seagulls cawing for mollusks, my interests are circling the pearl of this time, eyeing how to swoop in and get a piece. Here is an off the top of my head list of what I want to do.

→ Read the classics of OT and sociology that I draw on but feel distant from or never finished or read. Like Giddens, Simmel, Harrison White, Charles Tilly, Charles Perrow (there is surely much more here…)

→ Read some of the newer and cool/complicated network science work (Like the Carrington, Scott, and Wasserman book ).

→ Learn how to use my blog better (tags? technorati tools? using it more like a home page?)

→ Set up a Social Science Research Network page for my papers.

→ Teach myself more advanced network analysis skills like block models, p* models, more of the Sienna program and its underlying MCMC mode, and network visualization. I thought I would take some data (my diss data?) and run myself through exercises like a tutorial.

→ Teach myself and start using some on-line network collection tools like the one David Krackhardt and Keith Hunter shared with me.

→ Advance my SecondLife research agenda with Ted Tschang. See also paper.

→ Finish Terrorism and Org Theory paper.

→ Submit three (two)? papers from my dissertation (“Learning Links: Social Networks and Organizational Learning”). More on these and target journals in subsequent post. OK, I just realized that I have very little about the content of the diss here o blog or anywhere else. Ooops. Why is that?

→ Lay the groundwork for next research projects.

a) Explore NSF funding stream for innovation research

b) Explore local food and energy organizations and activity for a possible book on the emergence of markets and market actors

c) Explore netcentric strategy and practice for b and also for political/movement activism

→ Write a paper with Brian Kettenring about ACORN and changes in social movement organizing in the Network Society.

→ Sketch out a “big audacious” book integrating institutional theory and network science/relationalism.

→ Write a column for the Williamsport Guardian about politics and blogging.

→ Organize my office.

→ Organize myself. Look, here is a resource I might use: Merlin Mann. Personal productivity for the wired set. I like the term “life hacks,” even though I have only begun to skim what it means. I can imagine though.

Well, I said partial list, but this is pretty much it. Its too much of course. Its an ocean of possibilities. Now, I’m off to swim and not drown.

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