I am both a disorganised and organised person. I do a lot of things that kinda require me to be organised but in a very disorganised fashion, using a series of small organisational skills to keep it all rolling along. My desk is covered in piles of paper, my floor is covered in piles of stuff and my head is filled with piles of info. I shuffle stuff around and hope that it all gets done in the end.
So I’ve been looking at where we take the referee training after the current four-week refresher ends and I started to think about setting goals. As referees, I feel we ought always be aiming for the best we can be and the only way that can happen is if we a) define to ourselves what ‘the best we can be’ is, b) work out what goes into making us ‘the best we can be’ and c) work out what steps we need to take to get to ‘the best we can be’.
Oh, I just described the goal setting process.
I figure this is a reasonably easy process for roller derby referees. I have whipped up a sheet for our refs to list current benchmarks in four areas: Speed (lap time over ten laps – aiming for 9.5 seconds); Endurance (lap time over 100 laps – aiming for personal best); Rules (% results across the different levels of WFTDA rules testing we do – aiming for 90%+), and Experience (Ref roles skated and bout/scrimmage experience). At our next ref training session after the testing phase of our refresher we will all sit down and fill in our current results and set goals for more testing periods in three, six and nine months. Theoretically by tracking our progress across these four areas, we will all be able to self-identify our areas of strength and weakness and put into place strategies to continue in the strong areas and progress in the weak areas. Easy as, right?
Then I started thinking about why I can make these plans for the ref crew but not for myself.
I am very good at impersonating an organised person. But this isn’t really tickling me anymore. Now I want to BE an organised person.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m better than I used to be. I have some things down pat and others I am struggling with. So this post is the equivalent of the referee goal setting session. Identifying my weaknesses and working on my strengths.
I am particularly motivated by improvement and statistics. Over the last few years I have started to track some things and it always feels great to see and actual improvement. I will talk about google docs a lot in this post as it is probably my core organisational tool.
So here is my list of areas that need organising and some ideas about how I am going with this so far (list is organised like it fell out of my head and the only value that can be given to each item’s position on my list is its subconscious placement – which means nothing or everything):
1. To-do lists and goal setting. I have lists everywhere – on pieces of paper stuck to noticeboards, drifting around my desk, stored in my phone, and floating in my head. Today I have created a new spreadsheet in google docs (more on this later) and am trying to move as many of the lists as I can find into there. I have used a spreadsheet due to its easily editable format and that I can store different lists in different tabs. Current tabs are ‘Teaching’, ‘PhD/Research’, ‘Roller Derby’ and ‘Personal’.
I will continue to add things to these lists, I will clear up the stacks of paper, I will tick things off.
2. Finances and career. This is probably my most dodgy area. I am 35 years old and only realised what I wan to ‘do with my life’ over the last three-ish years. Right now I am at the beginning of setting up a career as an academic (which seems to be working as the ivory tower happily accepts that sometimes people need to spend 15 years trying everything the world has to offer before discovering they have a brain). Knowing what I want to do career-wise has given me a bit more of an idea about money and planning but this is still reasonably contentious in Angela-land. I have a budget (another google docs spreadsheet) and I know theoretically how much money I have to spend on what things. One day I may even stick to this.
I will keep turning up to work, keep thinking and writing and teaching, check the budget, keep my spending money and my bill money separate and believe that I have the same rights to career success and financial security as anyone else.
3. Roller derby paperwork. Out of all of it, I feel that this is the most organised thing in my life. Being the start-up president of a roller derby league really forced me to develop some systems. Roller derby admin taught me how to use spreadsheets, run a social networking profile, coordinate documents with collaborators, write minutes, run meetings and organise a contacts list. Being a referee, referee trainer and rules educator has taught me how to collect, compile and transmit information in a way that can be understood by a wide cross section of individuals. Currently I write and deliver a session for the referees once a week, coordinate the writing and running of rules sessions for skaters, and write and maintain the referees manual and training guide. All of this only gets done because I keep the derby to do lists on the top of the stacks and highlight what needs to be done NOW.
I will finish the current rules session I am working on (a sparkling insight into Gross Misconduct and Expulsion) in my next Pomodoro and send it off to the other referees for feedback. Cos that is the thing that needs to be done NOW.
4. Research and writing. I am currently working on a PhD in creative writing which includes both a thesis and creative component. I’m aiming for 30-40,000 words for the thesis and 50,000 for the creative work. I am at the start of my second year and have approx 18,000 words of the creative work drafted and a solid literature review and intro for my thesis which is sitting at about 8,000 words. Currently I am in the drafting the creative work phase as I don’t want to theory myself out of being able to craft the book. I have a full chapter outline completed and am writing from that. The best things I have done for my writing are a) setting three days a week where I do research and writing (this is hard as I get distracted) and b) attempt to get the distractions under control by using the Pomodoro Technique. This seems to be working. In order to push the output and motivate myself I have created another google docs spreadsheet to store my word counts and Pomodoros achieved. I like this. I am trying to write (at least one Pomodoro’s worth) every day so that on the WRITING days I am in the habit and the fingers are fast.
On Wednesday I will complete seven-to-nine Pomodoros and will finish chapter three and start chapter four.
5. Exercise and fitness. This is another hard area for me. Prior to starting roller derby I had never done an organised or team sport and hadn’t thought much about my body and its needs. The biggest area I struggle with is eating. As a previously disordered eater (okay, maybe currently disordered eater) I struggle to see food as fuel and instead either see eating as a chore or a celebration. Eating three meals a day is hard for me as I just forget that I need food. I keep Sustegen ( a powdered food substitute) and Weetbix (grain-based breakfast cereal) on hand for those days when I know I need to exercise but haven’t kept the fuel up to scratch. My second area is motivation. I find it hard to get out and do stuff, hard to get to training when I’m flat. Like I mentioned before, keeping track of my goals pushes me – I want to see the statistical improvement and so I get off my arse. Map My Fitness has helped me get motivated. So has the google spreadsheet where I map my lap times. Maybe I need a spreadsheet for food?
I will eat lunch today (as fuel) and BBQ black Angus steaks for dinner (as celebration). Tomorrow I will eat breakfast and skate 100 laps faster than last time.
6. Teaching and training. This semester I start lecturing in creative arts critical theory after spending last semester tutoring in this area. Handling classes and student records tested my organisation and lecturing will test it even more. I keep my class records in Dropbox (as I feel it is more secure than google docs) and after last session I will be updating the online class roles every week. Lectures and class plans I store in both google docs and Dropbox. All of the procedures I have put in place for my academic teaching are duplicated for the training I do with roller derby. This area seems to be working okay.
Next Monday I will finish drafting my first three lectures for the semester.
So. Yeah. Where does this leave me now? I know where I am and where I am going. I know what I need to do to get there. Putting this list here makes it real (as everything on the interwebs is real, right?). I’ll keep coming back, testing my standing against my goals.
I will be an organised person.
**This post took an almighty three Pomodoros to write.