Yesterday I presented the results of my Sprint Month.
Sprint Month: I stepped down from my positions in my various clubs, logged out of Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and even my blog, I turned down social activities, let papers pile up in my house, and dust bunnies reproduce ad infinitum. I ate out more than I should but kept up with my morning routine, daily rowing, and loading my thermos full of leaded black French Roast.
During the Sprint Month, I ran tests on all my available samples, finished a hefty manuscript for publication, and realized truths that deserve to be recorded. In no particular order, these truths are as follows:
1. The people who helped me really helped me. The test I designed is my own, but running the equipment, assembling the samples for testing, and problem-solving on the fly could not have been done without the help of two phenomenal people: Steve and Akshay. Turning the samples around for next day testing meant I needed to be in the lab or shop at odd hours. Steven and Akshay never lamented my fanaticism or their conscription.
2. People to whom I have obligations and with whom I have relationships never complained. My boss understood what I needed to do and gave me the latitude to do it. My Sweetie and family did not protest my absence (or tendency to fall asleep when I sat down). My fellow club leaders and officers stepped up and took over so I did not worry one bit about our hard work’s momentum slowing down.
3. My dog gained weight. Gone for long swaths of time, I suffered Single Pet Parent Guilt and fed her treats every time she asked. Bella scored.
4. The Sprint Month energized my work and moved it forward so that the end is in sight. Toward the end of the month, the edges started to fray and I felt tattered. To finish and graduate this semester, I needed everything to go right. Rarely does that happen and my run was no exception. At the very beginning, I came down with some cold that wiped me out for five days. Not only did I lose a week but it is tough to start a sprint when you are gasping and wheezing.
5. Performing lab/shop work and writing a well-crafted manuscript do not happen on the same day. This surprised me. A critical component of my plan required that I conduct tests during the day, change over samples in the evening and write either early morning or later at night. This did not happen. On days where I am running around, watching gages, trying not to destroy equipment, and reassembling my samples, I could not get my focus to settle on the contemplative process of writing.
I asked fellow graduate students and professors about this disjoint and they agreed: taking notes on the work being done happens. On the active research days, writing the actual manuscript (i.e. describing the work, making inferences, and drawing conclusions) does not happen.
6. I missed my life. Disconnecting from social media was restorative. Disconnecting my friends and (comparatively anemic) social life was not. I’m back.