WTF: Teaching

We are so excited to start our September series on teaching for all of you abd2phd-ers who are just starting, or soon to start, the academic year.

The majority of PhD students in the United States attend research universities of some sort. Research universities, as the name implies, are focused primarily on research. This creates something of a paradox. Teaching is done at research universities because it brings in a great deal of money but the higher up you go in the university hierarchy the less teaching is a priority.

This paradox can be particularly difficult to navigate for graduate students for several reasons.

First, no one will teach you how to teach. There are, of course, exceptions to this rule. In general, the larger the course you teach is the more likely that there will be some sort of training before they let you around the actual students. If you teach a section or two of a massive course like English composition or public speaking the need for grading standardization (and to minimize student complains) often leads programs to institute training for new teachers. If, however, you go to an institution where grad students aren’t allowed to teach until after their prelim exams then it’s more likely you’ll be asked to teach your program’s survey course, handed a couple of the past syllabi and expected to handle it.

Second, if you actually like teaching and talk about liking teaching colleagues and faculty may write you off as a less serious researcher. It doesn’t matter that this point of view is patently ridiculous. Let’s just put it this way, “You’re so good at teaching. Have you thought about applying to teach at private high schools?” is less of a compliment and more of an indictment.

Third, some institutions will throw you into teaching as the instructor of record from your first day on campus. Other institutions won’t let you lead a class until you’ve passed your prelims. There are justifications for both methods but the second one has the unfortunate result of newly minted ABD students being thrown into the new responsibility of teaching just as they are struggling to figure out how to write a fudging dissertation. It can be stressful.

In our series on teaching we are going to cover all three of these topics to the best of our ability. We will start this week with some teaching resources, including some lessons you can borrow.  Second, we will cover how to be good at teaching and how to like teaching without sacrificing credibility as a researcher. Finally, we will discuss strategies to balance dissertating, lesson planning, grading, and all the things.

If there’s a particular subject related to teaching you want to see covered this month leave a comment or send us a message!

 

Happy Labor Day!

How right and how fitting it is that we should end our summer series on rest this Labor Day. Yes, Labor Day is traditionally seen as the end of summer, with many U.S. schools going back into session the days of carefree summer fun are at an end. More importantly, however, Labor Day is a holiday created by union workers who wanted to advocate for more time off.

If you belong to a campus with a graduate student union I hope you join it.

Whether or not your campus is unionized, I hope you honor the spirit of the holiday by taking some time off for yourself.

If our summer series on rest has piqued your interest on the research behind the connections between taking time off and increased productivity you can follow-up here, here, here, and here. (Fair warning: I haven’t actually read any of these books so please feel free to report back on their quality in the comments.)

Come back tomorrow for the start of our September series on teaching!

Mindfulness

Some days rest is easy: the sun shines, the breeze blows, and your inbox is empty.

These days are magical.

And Rare.

If you’re a typical PhD student your days are more likely to be spent in a small, windowless office shared with several other graduate students.

Other graduate students in your field, and the connections you form with them, are a vital part of success, and sanity, in your later academic career.

But they can be a heckuva inconvenience when you really need to get some writing done and all of your officemates are catching up on departmental gossip or meeting with students or doing anything else that makes your office feel like Grand Central Station.

This can be truly devastating to your productivity given that it takes over 20 minutes to recover from an interruption in your work.

For me, the spiral of thwarted productivity goes something like this:

Officemates in our shared office; living their lives.

Interrupting me.

Me: [Gets annoyed.]

Me: [Feels bad for being annoyed.]

Me: [Tries to work.]

Me: [Is distracted.]

Me: [Doesn’t make progress.]

Me: [Gets mad at myself for not making progress.]

Me: [Gets annoyed at officemates for thwarting my progress.]

Me: [Is annoyed and distracted and makes no progress.]

Me: [Leaves office hours.]

In the face of this destructive cycle mindfulness can be a lifesaver.

Like flow, mindfulness isn’t so much a form of rest as it is a way of approaching an activity whether that activity be rest or work.

Chances are, you’ve heard about mindfulness before. It’s been touted as a treatment for an impressively wide range of problems and seems to have several different definitions ranging from being present in the moment to observing your responses without judgment.

While there’s nothing wrong with being in the present, we’ll stick to the latter definition of mindfulness: observing your responses (thoughts and emotions) without judgment.

Let’s replay that earlier scenario with a mindfulness practice:

Officemates in our shared office; living their lives.

Interrupting me.

Me: [Gets annoyed.]

Me: [Feels bad for being annoyed.]

Mindfulness: [I’m feeling bad. Why am I feeling bad?]

Mindfulness: [I’m feeling bad because I’m annoyed at my officemates for talking even though this is their office and it’s not their fault.]

Mindfulness: [Is there anything I can do to improve this situation?]

Me: [Yes, I can enter attendance now which doesn’t take much attention and reschedule writing for after I teach.]

Me: [Takes a deep breath.]

Me: [Feels better.]

The power of mindfulness is that it cuts through that voice in your head saying “I should be doing X!” That voice, while meant to be helpful, is actually a distraction that prevents work from getting done. Mindfulness helps silence that voice and actually get work done.

A mindfulness practice is, well, just that–a practice. The goal isn’t to do it perfectly but simply to do it. Over time, a mindfulness practice can help you feel, if not rested, a sense of peace in even the most chaotic of environments. And after all, what is a grad student office but the most chaotic of environments?

 

Flow: A Very Doable Magic Trick

I debated long and hard about whether or not to include the concept of “flow” in our summer series on rest because flow isn’t really a way of resting so much as it is a way of working.

The flow state is more commonly known as “being in the zone” and you’ve probably experienced it at some point. I know some people who report getting into a flow state when playing video games or running (not at the same time). Part of the reason I chose a math minor during undergrad was because I often fell into a flow state when doing math problems.

As a PhD student, falling into a flow state when writing is akin to finding the Holy Grail.

But the flow state, the zone, as elusive as it might seem from the outside, is actually something that can be cultivated.

Mihály Csíkszentmihályi is the positive psychologist who has researched and popularized the idea of flow. According to Csíkszentmihályi the key to flow is that the task is “just about manageable.” In other words, the task is a Goldilocks: not easy enough that you get bored but not hard enough that you feel defeated–instead it’s juuust right. The task is a challenge but one you feel up to.

The key to flow, as with so many things in graduate school, is understanding task management. [1] We seem to achieve flow when we pick a task that is difficult but not overwhelmingly so. There also seems to be some evidence that we achieve flow when we work on a task where we can observe measurable progress (remember the video games and running from before?). Unfortunately, not a lot of tasks in graduate school, are ones where we can sit down and see measurable progress at the end of an hour or working. A dissertation certainly isn’t that type of task.

The first step of inducing flow in dissertation writing is to break the actual writing itself down into manageable chunks.

You know your writing speed best so start by picking a goal that is at the outside limit of what’s manageable for you in a day–remember, it needs to be challenging but doable. For instance, I can easily write about two-three pages a day. A stretch goal for me would be to write three pretty good pages. My partner, on the other hand, writes slowly. He can, generally, write about two paragraphs a day. A stretch goal for him would be to write one and a half good paragraphs a day. [2]

The second step of inducing flow is to give yourself permission to write badly.

No, really. When I talk to graduate students they often report that putting words on paper isn’t the difficult part. What’s hard is dealing with the fear that what you write won’t be good enough or second-guessing how what you’re writing right now will fit in with what you write when you finally get to chapter four. That leads to this:

giphy

Instead, take a deep breath and remember

Quote-Ernest-Hemingway-first-draft-anything-shit

Give yourself permission to just write in the moment without worrying about how this sentence connects to what you said in your prospectus or how you’d defend this claim in a job talk. (No, seriously, I used to spiral out on that last one ALL the time and all progress would stop.)

The third, and final, step to inducing flow is to give yourself restful conditions.

Restful conditions here doesn’t mean a comfy bed, but instead means conditions under which you can focus without being interrupted. [3] If you’re a person who needs complete silence then scheduling time to go into your office on the weekend might be your way to flow. If you need some ambient noise picking a coffee shop where you aren’t likely to run into friends could put you on the road to flow. Once you’ve found your spot you can mute your phone, turn off your notifications, and enter into that smooth and beautiful flow.

If it doesn’t work the first couple of times don’t worry. It’s going to take some trial and error. You might find out that a student theater troop practices (loudly) in a classroom next to your office every Saturday and need to restrategize your location. [4] You might find that what you thought was a reasonable goal is too easy or too hard and need to recalibrate. The hardest part is letting go of expectations for your writing. This takes consistent practice but you can absolutely do it.

Although flow can be magical, our real lives aren’t often conducive to flow. For instance, how often are you able to schedule uninterrupted writing/reading time?

Yeah, same.

That’s why our final post in our summer session on rest will be on mindfullness which you can apply even when all of your officemates are meeting with students in your tiny office and your email is blowing up.

We are currently taking suggestions for our subject for September. Let us know if you would prefer a month focused on teaching tips or writing advice.

  1. Why is this? I don’t actually know but I think it’s because many advisors don’t actually know much about task management themselves and use one, or both, of the following methods:

alltheworkwhile-crying-240091150_2271838629704588_95508656639967232_n2. Neither of these writing styles is better and writing faster doesn’t actually mean you finish faster. I tend to do a lot of research, sleep on it, then write a lot. My partner tends to write as he goes. I also wind up deleting most of what I write the first time around and he doesn’t. We take about the same amount of time to finish projects.)

3. The comfiest bed:

giphy1

4. Yes, that really happened to a friend of mine.

Wonder: Your Superpower

Near the end of my Master’s program, I had the good fortune to attend a small workshop with Omise’eke Natasha Tinsley. Dr. Tinsley was generous enough to end the workshop with a Q&A. As all private Q&As between young profs and grad students are wont to do the questions eventually turned to

“HOW ON EARTH DO YOU GET THROUGH GRAD SCHOOL WITH YOUR SANITY INTACT?!”

Dr. Tinsley said something that got me through graduate school:

Don’t lose your love of stories. 

Maybe your PhD isn’t in literature. Maybe stories, in the sense of novels or films, aren’t what got you into graduate school.

But something brought you here. Specifically, it was a love of something that brought you here. (Side note: I often listen to this song on repeat while writing or doing syllabus prep.) It was a bit of wonder at the beauty of a good story or the elegance of high theory or the historical intricacies of AAVE or the nuances of social commentary in space operas or whatever the thing was that made you say to yourself, “I could definitely spend 7 years and a book on THIS thing.”

And yet.

The process of graduate school can wear away that sense of wonder. It starts to slip away in your first “Intro to the Discipline” course where you read the canon and start to wonder if you can shoehorn that thing you’re so passionate about into academic jargon. It erodes a bit more in a semester where there are no classes offered related to your thing and so you have to take a bunch of other classes and write a bunch of papers about stuff that isn’t your thing. Then come prelims where you read a wide-range of books and your sense of wonder renews itself but in a negative way that leaves you wonder-ing why so many half-baked theories got published in the first place. Then comes the actual dissertation which is just so much more work than you can imagine before you actually do it and you wonder if it was a mistake to start a project that seems like it will never be finished. In short, it’s very easy to lose your love of the thing, your wonder, somewhere along the way.

There are a lot of surveys of why 50% of humanities PhDs leave their programs before completion. None of them ask about wonder. Yet, from my own observations, a lot of people who walk away do so because that sense of wonder either turns to something outside of academia or withers away. In the most difficult moments of graduate school that sense of awe or wonder, that deep devotion to your topic, is your lodestone leading you through the Forrest of No Fucks Left to Give.

Wonder is, in short, a superpower we all have access to. It can be the thing that leads you down the right path research/career-wise, and it is an easily accessible answer to many teaching questions.

I know a lot of folks reading this will be preparing a syllabus (or several) for the upcoming fall semester. If you’re putting together a new syllabus use wonder as your guide to fill in the gaps. When asking what texts to put on the syllabus ask which ones you’re dying to talk about–which ones fill you with awe/wonder? Put those in.

When trying to decide how to set up assignments you can use wonder to ways. First, what assignments really sparked your own wonder and creativity as a student? Incorporate those. Second, what types of assignments have you always wanted to incorporate or try? Incorporate those.

I can tell you from almost a decade of my own teaching reviews the feedback I consistently get from students in every class I teach is that I really love teaching that subject. Some students think I’m a great teacher. Some students think I’m a terrible teacher. Some love me. Some hate me. But they unanimously agree that I really, really love teaching that subject even if they think I’m the worst person to ever stand in front of a class.

Similarly, every award I won during grad school was some version of an audience-choice award. I used to think that meant my research wasn’t good enough to win a more prestigious award. However, I’ve come to think those audience-choice awards really mean that I did an excellent job getting people to care about my topic and I think I did that because I cared so deeply about it even at the points when I hated graduate school the most.

Now, there’s a solid chance you’re reading this and thinking to yourself, “I’ve totally lost my sense of wonder so please stop blathering on about a superpower I don’t have.”

No.

No, I won’t stop blathering on. Wonder is a renewable resource, my friend, and I believe in your ability to reclaim your superpower.

The reason I’m going on about wonder in our summer series on rest is because rest is the only way I know to renew your sense of wonder. There are so many moments that take it away. You could argue the whole academic system is designed to take away your wonder, but you have to find the moments to renew it.

I often find that little moments of wonder occur during moments of mindlessness. When I’m waiting for the bus or walking across campus and not really thinking about anything  I’ll feel a deep sense of wonder and awe that I get to be in this space. Maintaining my sense of wonder, my love of stories, is also why I read fiction every day throughout grad school. Even though my PhD isn’t in literature it was important to me to stay in touch with my love of language throughout this process.

Finally, I know a lot, A LOT, of people who tell me that wonder is definitely important for their teaching and research and they will get on renewing their sense of wonder just as soon as they are done with graduate school.

Bruh.

D1Z-thats-not-how-it-works-thats-not-how-any-of-this-works

You need to take time to attempt to renew your sense of wonder, your love of the thing, often. Ideally daily, even if it’s just for twenty-five minutes, because if you don’t figure out how to make rest and wonder part of your routine now then you never will.

I’m speaking particularly to humanities PhDs who want to get TT jobs here.

Graduating is a huge accomplishment. Getting a TT job is an even bigger accomplishment. For both of those accomplishments you are rewarded with more responsibility, not less. You have more things to do, more claims on your time, and the pressure doesn’t ease up. Sure, you have more money and better insurance, and those things definitely help some, but most folks I know who have TT jobs are just as busy as they were as grad students and most are more so. The extra money and better insurance means you (barely) break even with your newly increased work load.

This isn’t meant to discourage anyone from getting a TT job. Rather, I want to encourage you to do so in way that is sustainable for your mental, emotional, and physical health. On a related note, there’s some science indicating wonder seems to be a vital component for each of those things.

Mind-LESS-Ness

Recently, I had the good fortune to be gifted a trip to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando, Florida. The picture above is one I took of Hogwarts Castle at the theme park.

In general, I’m not one for theme parks but the Wizarding World was uh-mazing. The level of detail and the skill of the actors that made this beloved fictional world come to life was wonderful.

And expensive.

So expensive.

If you want to take the Hogwarts Express then you have to buy tickets to two parks since the Wizarding World is split between them. If you want to buy an interactive wand from Ollivander’s, and do spells throughout the park, you’re going to pay $55.  Do you want ButterBeer? $7.50. Do you want to eat at the Leaky Cauldron? It’s going to be around $20 for some just alright cafeteria food.

As I was walking around the park I was overwhelmed with how much money the parks were raking in and that this was just one part of the Harry Potter Franchise which, over the past two decades, has made a lot of money for a lot of people. Most notably, J.K. Rowling, the author of the books who has an inspiring personal story about going from welfare to earning billions.

What does all of this have to do with rest?

Rowling says that the idea for the first Harry Potter book came to her when she was stuck on a delayed train. Some reports say she was staring out the window.

It seems that Rowling got the idea for Harry Potter when she was engaging in a bit of mindlessness.

Although we are big proponents of the uses of mindfulness on your journey from ABD to PhD it’s important to remember that it is not a panacea. In fact, though the neuroscience of productivity is still very new, there seems to be ample evidence that letting your brain do nothing is every bit as important, and maybe more so, to the creative processes (see here and here) than mindful breaks like meditation.

In fact, moments of mindlessness seem to be key to those creative breakthroughs that can make all the difference in a long-term project like a dissertation. Personally, I have a lot of these moments in the shower or right as I’m about to fall asleep. I’ll just be minding my own business, having stopped working for the day (if it’s a good day), or just thrown my hands up and walked away (if it’s a bad day) and the connection/word/source/thing I was looking for will come to me. Chances are you’ve had moments like these too. Neuroscientists say that the three B’s–bathtub, bed, and bus–are common places for these a-ha! moments to happen. (If you’re thinking of the “Eureka!” story of how Archimedes figured out water displacement while getting in the bathtub–yes, exactly, that.)

Essentially, these creative moments happen when you’re doing nothing and your mind is wandering. It seems that this frees up the brain to make creative connections it would not make in a more focused state.

Taking time to rest is hard. It’s hard for people in a capitalist society where our productivity is made synonymous with our value as humans. It’s hard, particularly, for grad students who are often only getting paid for their teaching or researching assistantship but are also expected to do their own research, write, publish, engage with the wider field, and do departmental service.

Most of all, taking time to rest, to do mindless activities, as an academic in mid-August, is damn near impossible. It feels like the exact opposite of what you should be doing and yet it is incredibly important. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been trying to put together a syllabus, gotten stalled on what should be on the reading list in week 11 of the semester, taken a social media break and stumbled across the perfect source. It may seem like a happy accident, but I think it has more to do with (1) having bada** friends who share great stuff and (2) activating the creative process through a mindless break.

So, delay, if you can, the pre-semester panic and take a mindless break to do nothing. You may be surprised at how much it will increase your overall productivity.

Mindfulness​, Mindlessness, Flow, and Wonder

In our special summer series on rest we have covered why grad students are bad at resting, and what activities definitely do not count as rest.

In the next part of this series, we are introducing four essential types of rest. Like a well-balanced diet blends your macro-nutrients so a well-balanced schedule will mix your types of rest. Each of these types of rest has their advantages for your brain and for your work.

In this post, we will go over each type of rest and in the next week we will take a more in-depth look at why need these types of rest and how to get them.

Mindfulness: You’ve probably heard a lot about mindfulness. It’s touted as a panacea for the ills of our modern age. Hell, incorporating mindfulness is part of our mission statement because there is some promising research and what it can do for the anxious and overworked. However, Mindfulness is sort of like the aspirin of mental health: in certain conditions it’s good to have some every day but it’s a preventative measure or temporary relief–not a cure.

Mindlessness: You may not have heard as much about mindlessness but it is what it sounds like. It is the state in which you zone out and you’re not thinking of anything. Mindlessness is, in my opinion, the type of rest graduate students in the humanities are most desperate for. If I had a dollar for every time a humanities graduate student told me they couldn’t have fun anymore (e.g. enjoy video games, romance novels, movies) because they couldn’t turn their brain off, well, then I wouldn’t be working on this site–I’d be relaxing mindlessly in Hawaii.

Flow: When I think of flow I think of math and the pleasure of losing myself in a problem. The flow state is that magical time when you are working on a difficult, but solvable, problem and you lose yourself in it. Writing feels best when you manage to get yourself into a flow state. If you don’t like math you may be familiar with flow from an absorbing workout, a crossword, a puzzle or some other endeavor that involves pleasurably losing yourself in the moment.

Wonder: Wonder is the rocket fuel of graduate study. Without wonder completing the degree relies on determination and willpower. Unfortunately, willpower doesn’t really exist so that’s a difficult and doomed endeavor. Wonder is the state of seeing yourself as a small part of a very big universe. It is perspective and it is vital to graduate study. Every graduate student I have ever met became a graduate student because they had wonder–they saw a big puzzle that captivated their attention and they wanted to be a part of solving it.

These forms of rest are not mutually exclusive. It’s possible that a mindfulness exercise could induce a state of wonder. You might indulge in a bit of wonder leading to mindlessness. A little bit of wonder might help get you into a flow state, and so it goes.

Come back next week when we’ll go into detail about what mindfulness is and what it can do as well as what it isn’t and what it can’t do.

Be A Patriot!

Hi Friends,

I wanted to wish you a happy holiday and share some of my favorite ways to celebrate.

“What to the slave is the 4th of July?”–Introduced by Howard Zinn, read by James Earl Jones, written by Frederick Douglas and, sadly, more relevant than ever. “What we need is fire.”

“Letter From Birmingham Jail”–This is one of my favorite pieces of writing of all time and should be read at least once a year. Although it’s lengthy it is well worth a listen. I like this version because it begins with a reading of the Call to Unity to which Dr. King was responding to in his letter.

“Change Gonna Come”–The rebels can keep their yell and the Republic can keeps its Battle Hymn. This is the song we need. Bless Sam Cooke.

Of course, the most patriotic thing you can do today, or any day, is exercise your right to engage in participatory government. My personal favorite ways to do this are to use

Five Calls and ResistBot. They are simple and easy to use, even for people with phone anxiety, like me.

If you’d like to call your representative but don’t know their number you can find it here. If you’d like to call your senator you can find their number here.

Rest

In preparing to launch this site I interviewed over 40 graduate students. In my near-decade in graduate school I have informally talked with hundreds of graduate students, post-docs, and faculty about how they structure their time.

I’ve always been interested in how people create balance for themselves and I’ve gotten some truly interesting answers.

One prominent professor, who will remain unnamed, confided in me that she got through graduate school by being drunk the entire time. So, you know, that’s one way to do it but not really one I (or that professor) advocated–too much damage to the liver.

I’ve already talked about how some people approach graduate school as a 9 to 5 job. I’ve also known people who structure their weeks very rigidly, allocating all teaching tasks to days they teach, writing to days they don’t teach, and one day a week for errands. I like the idea of such a predictable schedule but I’ve always found that real life gets in the way of all my best efforts.

What I have repeatedly found is that academics are very bad at resting. When I ask people how they rest they often tell me that they aside some time during the week for rest–sometimes it’s an hour or two a day, sometimes it’s one day out of the week, sometimes they allocate weekends, and so on.

However, that doesn’t really answer the question. That is when they rest and not how.

When I probe a little deeper and get academics, particularly grad students, to tell me how they rest the overwhelming finding is that they aren’t resting at all.

Here’s a short list of things people have told me they during their allocated resting time:

  • Dishes
  • Laundry
  • Yard Work
  • Grocery Shopping
  • Meal Prep

Those things are not rest. You may enjoy doing them. I, personally, enjoy grocery shopping but that doesn’t make it rest in the same way that I enjoy teaching but it is still my job and not my leisure time.

As a general rule, if the task has to be done then it is not rest. Dishes, laundry, yard work: these are not rest activities.

That doesn’t mean they aren’t useful. In fact, later this week we will cover exactly how and why activities like this can be helpful to your academic success, but they aren’t rest.

Some activities look like rest from the outside but may not be rest. Again, the guide is whether or not it is something that has to be done. If it has to be done it is a task or a chore and not rest. For example women, people of color, and working-class graduate students often need to do a great deal of emotional labor that may look like rest or leisure from the outside but, internally, feels like something that has to be done and it crosses the line from leisure to another chore.

Take a good, hard look at your week. Are you finding time to truly rest or are you buying into the fallacy, so aggressively perpetuated in academic circles, that any non-academic activity is rest?

 

How Many Hours Are In a Day?

Long ago, I took a class in HR Management.

We all try things.

To this day, the class in HR Management remains one of my favorite classes of all time. I have dozens of good memories from that class and one not-great memory from that class. Guess which one I’m gonna tell you about today?

The professor of that class told us that everyone had the same amount of time in the day. At the time, this didn’t quite sit well with me but it took me YEARS to figure out why.

In fact, it wasn’t until I heard about spoon theory that I fully understood what made me so uncomfortable with the statement that everyone has the same 24 hours in a day to get stuff done. If you haven’t encountered spoon theory before this image explains it:

Spoon Theory

Essentially, people who live with chronic illness do not have an equal 24 hours in a day to get things done. They have as much time and energy as their illness will let them, which is not always predictable but is non-negotiable.

And while talking about chronic illness in grad school is important it is not the only thing that can inhibit your ability to get work done. As we mentioned in a previous post, thinking about budgeting or where your next meal is going to come from takes up brain space you can’t give to academic tasks (you can also see here and here). In addition, stereotype bias can inhibit academic performance (see here, here, and here).

What I’m getting at here is the incredibly obvious point that how many usable hours you have in a day is a function of your privilege. In fact, I often introduce the concept of privilege to my students by asking them to think of reasons why the same activities might take different people different amounts of time where less time to task completion = more structural privilege.

This is obviously correlated to the fact that the more energy you are required to spend on one task the less time you have for other tasks.

And guess what? We all have finite amounts of energy.

When it comes to rest, and how much you need, or what type works for you there is only one expert: you.

The key to surviving graduate school with a modicum of sanity is to allow yourself to take the rest you need without guilt, shame, or comparison.

The simple fact is we don’t all have the same 24 hours in a day. We never did.

I would go insane if I compared my productivity to my colleague who doesn’t need more than 4 hours of sleep a night. I typically need at least 10 to function. I could waste time thinking about those 6 hours I wasn’t writing or I could acknowledge that I do better work in less time when I’m well rested.

So, from this post to the next, I’m giving you a bit of homework: Think, really think, about how much rest you would like to have in your day, your week, and your month.

On Friday, we’ll be talking about what rest is and what it isn’t.