Thursday, July 15, 2010

Thoughts on "Capacity" 2

Ok, picking up where I left off last post...
To summarize,
I mentioned time, physiology, and focus as potential limiters of my capacity. None of this is particularly earth-shattering. In my quest for peace with my limitations, but working at the top of my range, I can accept my basic physiology, and will not be able to stretch that limitation. Focus, I'm still working on improving what I can. Don't know what part I can improve or how, yet. I have previously experimented with structuring my day around what I do best at what time, and even designed a diet to help keep me mentally sharp. Neither of those were very workable solutions.

To continue,
Forethought. In the lab, I learned to have carefully crafted protocols that include a section about checking to make sure each reagent in present in sufficient quantity and adequate quality. My protocols are written thoroughly and modified as necessary. My students love them and it gives me the ability to leave them alone in the lab sooner.

I wish I had protocols for the rest of life. I feel like I'm always living in the moment, as if tumbling down a steep slope in a "log roll". There's some degree of control, but the gravity seems to just pull me along with little consent from me.

My first few years of teaching, I found myself getting up at an ungodly hour to set up my teaching labs, and often modifying the labs (rarely for the better) because I had failed to order a reagent in sufficient time for it to arrive. I got behind and it was unrecoverable. I got tunnel vision in which I was so busy taking care of the immediate fires that I couldn't plan enough to avoid the next big crisis. I went from crisis to self-induced crisis my first year teaching, and was so exhausted from it that I had to be put on meds. My health has recovered completely, thanks.

Teaching labs, driving, housecleaning- it seems that every corner of my life is invaded by this fault/ failure/ trait/ bad habit /unfortunate cognitive style. It is sooo common in all aspects of my life and has been for so long that I have begun to wonder if its a trait, a ceiling, a biological limitation. Clearly, I have been able to modify my behavior in a highly controllable sliver of my life (the research lab- AND I always grocery shop with a list). But if any new situation pops up, there I am again, falling behind and losing my ability to plan ahead.

I have to mention here that the only silver lining is that I am highly flexible and can "fashion many things out of driftwood", if you will. I can make a teaching lab work with a missing reagent because I've had so much friggin' practice at it. For any of you interested in teaching, I AM NOT CONDONING THIS! Good teachers plan ahead and are well organized.

Up next, lifestyle choices.

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