Sunday, January 6, 2013

2013 resolutions

Inspired by this list of 12 resolutions for grad students, I'm making the following goals for the next year:

  • Map out the year.
    • Use Google Calendar to make weekly and monthly goals.
    • Plan out weekly time use in blocks the week before.
  • Improve productivity.
    • Always have an active side project that can substitute for surfing the internet when taking a break.
    • Spend one day a week (Friday) working without an internet connection or cell phone.
  • Embrace the uncomfortable.
    • I've already moved from Ubuntu to Arch Linux on my laptop, and am using a very minimal desktop setup geared toward programming productivity. I'll be installing Arch on my work machine as well.
    • Learn vim or emacs (but which one?)
    • My research mostly involves data analysis; I'd like to try a simulation for a change.
  • Upgrade your tools.
    • I hate reading PDFs on a computer screen, and being at a computer is distracting. For Christmas I got an e-reader which I'll use with Zotero to keep my reading list with me at all times.
  • Stay healthy.
    • I've been following a ketogenic diet (low carb, high fat) for the past few months, and am feeling great, so I plan to continue. I lost 20 pounds this last semester; the goal is to lose another 15 over the next semester, at which point I will have hit my target weight (and a minimum since my high school wrestling days ended.)
  • Update your CV and website.
    • I think I do a pretty good job at this, but I'm going a step further by managing my CV in plain LaTeX (instead of LyX, which is kind of a black box to me) and putting it in a public Github repository. (And it now features a snazzy blue theme!)
  • Keep an eye on the job market.
    • I signed up for job alerts on for keywords like "ecoinformatics" and "macroecology." These keywords don't seem to have a lot of openings each year, so a few e-mails every now and then shouldn't be too distracting.
  • Network.
    • I have a few good networking opportunities coming up this year, including the Phylotastic hackathon, the annual meeting of the Ecological Society of America, and two Software Carpentry workshops I'm helping out with (at NESCent and UVA).
  • Say thanks.
    • (Nothing specific that I'm listing here.)
  • Volunteer for a talk.
    • I'm part of an ESA Ignite proposal being organized by Sandra Chung of NEON, so hopefully will have a chance to give a 5-minute talk in Minneapolis this summer.
  • Practice writing.
    • I'm pretty inconsistent with blogging, so I'm going to shoot for a thoughtful blog post at least biweekly.
    • Additionally, I'll try to space projects so that there's always something in the pipeline that can be written up.
  • Check with your committee.
    • I don't actually have one yet, so the first step will be to form one.

Additionally, from 12 resolutions for programmers (there's a lot of overlap with the grad school list, but a few additional goals):

  • Learn a new programming language.
    • I typically learn one new language a year; this year, I'd like to learn Smalltalk Perl. Perl is ubiquitous, so it seems like a better language to learn; I'll get around to Smalltalk if I find the time.
  • Learn more mathematics.
    • I'm taking a course on probability, which I didn't have a chance to take as an undergraduate. (At least, I think I am - it's over capacity, so I'm waitlisted.)
  • Engage in the arts and humanities.
    • Over the break, I've been trying to improve my drawing ability. As a side effect, I'm learning to engage the underutilized right side of my brain a little more. What effect this has on my work remains to be seen.
  • Complete a personal project.
    • If anything, I probably do this too much; I'll set aside specific blocks of time to work on specific personal projects, and continue my Hour Challenges as long as they're productive.


  1. Great resolutions. I decided to learn a serious text editor this year too and decided to go with Emacs. I really like it so far.

    1. I've been trying out emacs for the past few days, and it's been great so far. It's definitely more newbie-friendly than vim.