Overwhelmed

Don’t you ever just sit at your desk mentally counting the virtual mountain of tasks that have  to be completed and feel totally overwhelmed? I’m totally there.

Yes, this post is going to be a confession of sorts, but I’m fully aware that my life isn’t unique and each of you probably have a similar mountain to the one I’m looking at right now. I am in the middle of producing 2 R01s, which, in itself is a crazy thing to attempt. I feel like I’m banging my head against both of them, never really making the kind of progress that needs to be made. The first is a resubmission, got a score (a bad one), but I’m having trouble seeing how to make the re-write work. At the same time, the initial application got scored so I feel like I MUST resubmit.

The second is a new submission of a project that I am infatuated with- but the needed techniques are going to be somewhat outside my comfort zone- so that is a challenge as well. Anyway, I’ve got study section between the two R01 deadlines, so there are a few (not to terribly many) grants to read for that. One of my trainees has two grants of her own with deadlines in the middle of all of this, for which LORs and such are needed.. and I have one paper accepted (a little good news is *so exciting*) with minor revisions- and so someone has to do those as well. Several manuscripts in various states of preparation await my attention.  I also have a talk (also good news, right?) at an important meeting for my field immediately following the second R01 deadline. Then I applied for a leadership training in my institution- and attendance is mandatory- 1 day each week for 6 weeks- to begin around the time of the meeting.

Yesterday I discovered that I can’t get back from my meeting talk in time for one of those sessions- so that training has to get put off until next year. Spent part of my evening last night trying to sort out how to make this work so I could do both- but short of me spending an entire night in the air and coming directly to training 24 hours sleepless… it is not going to work. Disappointing because I feel I really want some formal training in this area, because it will help me with potential next steps in my career. At the same time, this is just the way it has to be.

And finally, just before bedtime last night I opened my email to find my kid-sitter quit.  I found myself worrying about in lieu of sleeping last night.  I find myself scrambling to figure out how we are going to cover the kid-shuttling duties in the midst of all these other tasks…Heavy sigh… I totally thought I had that one in the bag….

One year ago some life events made me promise myself I’d be more purposeful about what I chose to do and not to do. I am not feeling good at that right now… and the days go by….

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3 thoughts on “Overwhelmed

  1. Hi, I’ve been lurking for a long time.

    If we didn’t work in completely different fields, I would say this post had been written by my PI, aside from a few minor details. But the gist is right, nanny problems, multiple grant deadlines, talk to prepare, piddly bullshit to write for me. What I have learned from watching her is somehow things get done well enough. And if they don’t get done, its because something else more important got done (your leadership training concession, for example). She amazes and impresses me and I would do whatever she asked to help her out. My graduate advisor was also a woman in a similar situation and with similar outcomes.

    I also am in the orbit of a fairly big deal dude PI. I have observed that his approach is to farm out the beginning 60% of assembly of all grants, and the beginning 85% assembly of all papers, to my friends aka his postdocs and graduate students, followed by swooping in to gloss up said work immediately before submission, and to become irate if they do not deliver work that meets his immaculate standards on schedule. While I don’t think this is the behavior of a fully healthy individual, I have gained an appreciation of the day-to-day mechanics of a stereotypical successful dude lab, that he not only has exceptional help at home with childcare (grandparents) but exceptional help at work with productivity (his trainees).

    Consequently I am experimenting this semester with using my trainees (undergrads and med students) more fully by telling them just how busy I am, that they have to step up, and this is the specific line of inquiry I need this person to step up to, with my utter gratitude and no yelling. My fingers are crossed, but the early stages have “me” accomplishing quite a bit. Problem is, is it really me that accomplishes anything in this case? I feel a bit like a foreman and not much like a scientist.

  2. Qaz- Yes Indeed. Not NIH study section so that won’t work.
    Anonymous Postdoc- Great observation- I believe that you have just written your first blog post and it was a winner. It will certainly spark a blog post response… shortly…

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