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Bad Onely Activities: Sorting through a Mountain of Paperwork January 21, 2010

Posted by Onely in Bad Onely Activities.
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Hello from underneath a mountain of paper.

Yup, that’s me over to the right (!) attempting to sort through the  massive amount of paper I (or, to be more accurate, my printer) have produced since starting my Ph.D. There are the papers I have written and revised; the papers my classmates drafted for class discussion; the academic articles printed and read throughout my coursework and in preparation for my doctoral exams last semester; there are the syllabi from my coursework, and the syllabi from the classes I’ve taught; there are the extra copies of handouts and writing assignments; and finally, there are the portfolios of student writing left over after the end of every semester.

It’s only been two and a half years. But I have created a (very environmentally UNfriendly) monster. And because I am about to begin writing my dissertation and don’t feel I’ll be able to focus until my life (and my papers) are in order — I told myself earlier this week, it’s now or never, Lisa. You’ve got to organize!

But my god, this is a daunting task – the deeper I get, the more the mess grows. I’ve made three trips to Staples since I started and have only managed to file and alphabetize my journal articles — which I guess is OK, considering that there are several hundred of them. I have a long list of mundane tasks ahead, and it’s far too easy to get distracted…

So, I am officially declaring this a Bad Onely Activity. I’ll feel like a rock star once it’s finished, but this tornado is my own private disaster: it affects no one but me.

Copious Readers, what private disasters or personal mountains have you had to manage on your own — and how did you overcome?

— Lisa


1. April - January 22, 2010

Does your printer scan? Scan everything you want to keep and save it on a disk, and lose the paper!

Onely - January 23, 2010

Oh April, that’s an excellent idea — except that I have this problem: I have a very hard time reading on the computer screen for long spans of time. When it comes to academic sources, I have to print them out in order to read them — not to mention the fact that I am also in the habit of marking articles up with marginal notes/comments. So… I had to file them in order to keep myself from continually printing the same articles out over and over again (which I found myself doing last semester when I couldn’t find the old copies).

– L

2. Alan - January 22, 2010

I got a master’s in nursing on my own, after having worked in another field. That was a challenge, and harder to do on my own, but I did it.
Might even go back for the PhD, we’ll see.

Onely - January 23, 2010

That’s great, Alan! I just talked with one of my students from last semester who is planning to be a nurse to keep her sights on pursuing a master’s/ph.d. in the future… She is a skilled writer and just has a such good sense already for asking the kinds of questions that scholars ask, that I want her to set her sights high. Graduate work in any field is challenging!

– L

3. Onely - January 23, 2010

Alan, my sister is starting nursing school after having worked in a number of different fields, so if you have any words of wisdom let me know! CC

Alan - January 23, 2010

I’d let her know to keep her options open…there are many different things you can do, you don’t just have to work at the bedside. Especially since many beside positions primarily require organizational rather than intellectual skill (although that can be useful too).

Onely - January 26, 2010

Thanks Alan–I’m shooting this over to her in an email right now.

4. iol. - January 23, 2010

Lisa – just consider yourself SO SO SO S-O happy and lucky that you are not living with a partner and/or kids that will either whinge and complain about your mess, or else will make you NEVER forget about it in the future when you tell THEM to tidy up (what kid would tidy up if they could then come back with stories about their mum or dad having messy episodes too??)

So … this is a GREAT time to be single – nobody to report to!!!

I create lists of things or lots of piles of things to make it easier – so I don’t have to decide what I want to do …. when I get the next piece of paper or article etc I already know where it’s going …..

so the list would have attributes like

things to file by date
things to throw away
things to file by subject matter

etc etc.

Onely - January 23, 2010

Iolanda – thanks so much for the encouragement! You’re right, of course — I am thrilled that no one is here to witness (and complain about) this god-awful mess.

Also, I make lists too — and, like you, I find it extremely helpful in keeping myself from being overwhelmed.


5. avedemehamp - December 28, 2010


I just registered with onely.org.
I’m planning to search about a little bit and encounter interesting folks and discover a few alternate viewpoints.

I am hoping this post didn’t find itself in the wrong area. I am sorry if it does.


Library Science Professor

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