Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Fiasco Week

The past couple of weeks, before this one, have been pretty easy. I knew that they were going to be pretty easy because I didn't have any logic homework due until this week and nothing big was happening in my pedagogy class, leaving only the normal weekly analysis and probability homework. And the first of these two weeks, I worked hard to make sure I was doing enough not to make this week hellacious. But last week I didn't do very well, and in fact I am not sure I accomplished anything at all Thursday through Saturday aside from attending classes.

This morning, our third mammoth logic homework was due. It had 10 problems. We usually have two weeks for these homeworks, but our professor was out of the country for a week, so we had three weeks for this. Last night I had finished the 8th problem by 8:30, so I had two more problems to do.

I finished (mostly) at 4:19 AM. And...ugh. That is just way too late to be up doing homework. Part of the reason it took so long is that sometime after 8:30 I just really broke down. I had a bad headache, I felt hopeless about the derivations that I had to do, and I just...I don't know. A friend from our program invited me over to her house, and I went, and working with her was great, but didn't prevent me from falling apart.

I skipped logic class this morning (got Ed to turn in my homework for me) and slept in until 12:30, then barely made it to my probability class on time at 2. (Thank goodness I had finished my probability homework, also due today, some days earlier.)

Tomorrow I have analysis homework due. We get this homework once a week and it's always one problem. Sometimes the problem is fairly tractable and other times it fills me with despair, but so far I have always gotten them done on time, correctly, for full credit, so that's promising. This is my little mountain to climb each week, and doing them, and doing them well, fills me with a lot of joy every time.

I am almost always either completely finished by Monday or I basically know what I'm doing and just need to clean up the execution a tiny bit during the week. But even though this one is due tomorrow, I still don't know how to do it. I did work on it a little bit (read: four pages worth of notes' worth of work) on Saturday, but I didn't get anywhere with it. I do have things I can try next, so I don't feel hopeless quite yet, but I'm not in a great position.

Another thing I do every week is neatly rewrite my analysis class notes, filling in the missing details and making sure that I understand them. I'm three lectures behind on doing that (there are two lectures each week), so that's not great either.

I think one thing that I need to do is regularize my sleep schedule. I have morning classes M/W/F but only afternoon classes T/Th so it's always very tempting to sleep in on those days, especially if I've stayed up late the night before working on something, but really in any case. But I don't think that's doing any favors for my productivity overall, because it means there are more days on which I feel disoriented due to getting up at a strange time.

I am also thinking of giving up caffeine (for the umpteenth time). It's getting to the point where I feel mentally dull all day until I have my tea, and that's not good, and last night's headache may have been caffeine-imbalance-related as well.

Now it's time for me to go tackle the analysis homework for real. What's unfortunate is that I am much more willing to work on something that isn't due yet than on something that is due soon. I don't like the feeling that I have to figure this out in the next, say, eight hours in order to have a legitimate shot of being able to turn in something decent tomorrow, and it makes me not want to look at it at all (or, you know, not yet).

Looking forward, next week should be a bit easier. We don't have a new logic homework yet, possibly because we have a (small) paper due in 2.5 weeks, and the only big thing I need to do other than next week's analysis is prepare and be ready to deliver a 10-minute mini-lecture on a college algebra/pre-calc topic for my pedagogy class. That means I'd better work hard on that paper next week.


Sally said...

First of all, good luck pushing through this tough period. You've kind of screwed around and now you just need to get back to it. It'll be okay.

But man, skipping a grad class is hard for me to imagine. I can think of only 3 instances so far in my program when someone didn't come to class - twice because they were at academic conferences and once because the person was truly, desperately sick. I guess local norms differ on this. Other readers who were/are in grad school - did people skip your classes? Did you?

I strongly advocate getting yourself off the caffeine (though pick your time wisely to minimize the killer withdrawal headaches). It means that you can use caffeine occasionally for positive reinforcement rather than daily for negative reinforcement.

I also am heavily in favor of regular sleep schedules. I screwed that up for myself a bit today by staying up later last night.

Tam said...

I definitely don't skip my grad classes, generally speaking. My logic class has > 20 people in it, so I didn't think my absence would be particularly noticeable. Had it just been a matter of feeling tired/bad, I would have sucked it up, but I knew that tonight I would need to do the analysis homework (which requires strong thinking), and this seemed like the best way to maximize my overall performance in the ways that matter most.

Tam said...

Also, of course, I think your classes are seminars. Mine are lecture classes, very similar to upper level undergraduate math courses. (In fact, logic is a combined grad/undergrad section, so it IS an upper level undergraduate math course.)

Sally said...

Yeah, that makes sense - I hadn't thought about the fact that your classes are lectures.