My 2017 Goals

Yearly goals

So it’s January, and of course, that means it’s resolution time. I’ve spent a lot of time these last two weeks really putting thought into what this year’s goals should be, because I feel like I’m very much at a crossroads of sorts. I’m turning the big 3-0 this May, and there’s a lot of things in my life that I feel like I need to address before I cross officially into the realm of “Thirty-something.”

The resulting list is a lot more conceptual than my goals have been in the past. More overall lifestyle changes than specific, quantifiable goals. And while that made coming up with photos to break up the wall of text in this post almost impossible, I feel like overall this is a list of goals that has some real potential to up the happiness factor in my life as I cross this major milestone.

And so without further explaination, here are my goals for 2017. Hopefully you’ll all be able to follow along and see the changes along with me.

Magpie’s Goals for 2017

1) Limit my video gaming.

One of the big byproducts of my anxiety problems over the last two years has been an excessive gaming habit. When my anxiety got bad, and as my work schedule became more and more consuming I turned more and more to video games as the only way to effectively “shut off” my brain and my anxiety. They are an easy refuge – no materials or supplies to pull out, and I don’t need the concentration level that reading requires… just press a button and BAM, I’m in Thedas. Or Tamriel. Or the Wasteland. Somewhere far far away from the constant juggling of responsibilities that is my life.

And sometimes, that’s not a bad thing. But over the past few years I also feel like it’s become a bit of a crutch. I’ve spent far too much of my already precious free time on video games, and all my other hobbies have completely fallen by the wayside. Reading, knitting, crocheting, my photo albums… pretty much everything. And I miss my other hobbies.

2) Spend more time on creative pursuits.

An auxiliary to goal number one – I want to use what little free time I have a little more productively. I did not finish a single knitting project in 2016. I’m well more than a year behind on my photo albums. And basically, if these are hobbies I’m not going to pursue, why am I storing all these supplies here? Which brings me to my next goal:

3) Purge stuff.

I have too much stuff given my current living situation and constraints. And it very much is a problem for me – for my mindset, for my productivity, and for my ability to stay organized and on top of things. And so I need to spend 2017 fixing that. Getting rid of things, putting things I can’t get rid of but don’t use regularly given my current situation into storage. Basically just simplify. Simplify, simplify, simplify.

4) Develop a more consistent routine.

I don’t have one. And I should. With all the jobs that I’m juggling, as much as the “free spirit” side of my personality may hate it, I need to be a little more regimented and disciplined in my routines. First on the docket will be a morning routine, then once all four jobs are back in swing I’ll tackle a meal planning routine. Hopefully, anyway.

5) Be more disciplined.

I give into my whims far too easily these days – and it’s not a freedom I really have room for. Whether it be snacking when I know I shouldn’t, or impulse purchases when I know I need the money for other, more important things down the road – I’m just not disciplined enough. A lot of that comes from fatigue. I’m tired all the time, and the more tired I am, the more likely I am to say, “let’s just order in” or “McDonalds is right there” or “just five more minutes of sleep – I don’t need to put on makeup today.” The result is that I feel bigger, less productive, and less on top of things than ever, and it’s not good.

6) Retool Blogging.

I like blogging as a hobby. Its one I very much enjoy and very much miss when I end up going on my little radio-silences. And I want to try to avoid that this year. I’m not quite sure how I’m going to do it yet, and I’ll probably make another post throwing around ideas at a later date, but bottom line is I need to come up with a better system for here, so that I stay inspired, stay consistent, and all without making this feel like a chore. That’s a lot packed into one goal, eh?

7) Avoid overeating.

This goes hand and hand with #5. I don’t eat particularly unhealthily. I try to get my veggies in, and even when we eat out I try to avoid super fried or unhealthy stuff. My big problem is not WHAT I eat – it’s HOW I eat. I overeat far too frequently and my portions are just WAY too big for the size I’m supposed to be. I also eat super quickly – probably a byproduct of my hectic schedule – so I don’t realize exactly how full I am until it’s too late and I feel miserable. I’ve gotta stop this. Both for the wellbeing of my waistband, my wallet, and my state of mind.

8) Move more.

Again, hand in hand with other goals, this time #1, #4 and #5. I don’t move enough. It’s that simple. My life has become increasingly sedentary and it’s not good. I’ve tried specific exercise goals in the past and they never work for me, so this year I’m starting smaller and I’m just going to try to move more, in whatever manner I can.

9) Eat out less.

This is as much a money thing as it is a portion control thing (see goal #7). I need to start saving more efficiently. I used to be really good about it – but when I had a few unexpected financial catastrophes last year, it set me back like, six years worth of work in the matter of a week. And that was… discouraging? Demoralizing? Dispiriting? Motivation killing? Gutting, really. But anyway, it’s super stressful not to have an emergency fund. To know that the next unexpected financial stress could mean ruin. And I’ve gotta get back on track with some SERIOUS belt tightening.

10) Make progress with language studies.

I’ve been trying to learn another language on and off for probably six years. My biggest problem is consistency. I’ll make a lot of progress for like a month, and then by the time I get back to it a month and a half later it would all be gone. I want to see concrete progress this year. Which means consistency.

11) Take better care of myself.

In many ways these last two goals seem to be the underlying theme of this whole list. Bottom line is that I’ve let my own wellbeing, both physically and mentally, fall to the wayside as I juggle four jobs. And it’s not good. It’s not healthy. I have to fix it.

12) Advocate for me.

I’ve become super super bad at prioritizing myself, and prioritizing my own wellbeing. And it’s begun impacting my ability to enjoy things. So I’ve gotta cut that out and start being my own best advocate.

What are your goals for 2017?

2016 New Years Resolution Postmortem

Header

Another year, another set of goals not fully met.

I know that sounds really pessimistic, but that’s just how these things go – I’m not a resolution maker who actually expects to fully complete each. Instead, I make resolutions with the goal of making progress, and using those goals, however unattainable, to improve myself or particular aspects of myself.

So I never really expect to fully fulfill them. If I do? AWESOME. If not? Oh well – the real question is did I TRY?

So let’s see how I did this year, shall we?

brush pen

1) Learn Brush Calligraphy

Success Level: High.

I think I did pretty well on this one. I’ve gotten significantly better – although obviously I’ve still got plenty of room for improvement (particularly when it comes to spacing and design) – I’m pretty happy with the progress I made on this one.

sketchbook

2) Fill a full sketchbook with figure drawing

Success Level: Low

I did not successfully fill a sketchbook. Bottom line is the year sort of got away from me with this one, and like last year I filled several sketchbooks, but all with lettering – not with figure drawing. So this one I think qualifies for another attempt.

reading

3) Read for at least 2 hours a week (reading not required by work) and be better about updating Goodreads.

Success Level: Medium

I didn’t quite meet the 2 hours a week quota, but I definitely did better about making pleasure reading a habit again. I’ve gotten through almost a dozen books that are not directly connected to work (of course my actual tally is much higher – but again I’m not counting stuff I HAVE to read, only the stuff I CHOOSE to read for no other reason than I want to).

WIPs

4) Finish all outstanding WIPs – both Knitting and Crochet

Success Level: None.

I really shat the bed on this one. Not even a single FO this year. I guess I just wasn’t feeling knitting in 2016.

sneakers

5) Run another 5k

Success Level: Another None.

Nope. This one just didn’t happen.

recipe books

6) Try 12 new recipes

Success Level: Medium

I added a few more recipes to my repertoire, but not 12 like I wanted. The reality is I really really did not cook much this year beyond sort of “okay lets throw something super quick together for myself.” No real meal planning, nothing complicated. This definitely needs to change come 2017.

makeup

7) Get better with makeup

Success Level: High

I’ve actually learned a lot in the last year. I’ve started using more of my eyeshadows, gotten better with liquid eyeliner, and even started wearing red lipstick occasionally. Overall I’m much more comfortable with my makeup skills, and all those amazing products I have saw a lot more use over the last year.

PJs

8) Pajamas are for bedtime only.

Success Level: High

Part of this has to do with the fact that I spent a lot less time working from home this year, and the other part of it has to do with actually HAVING a dedicated bedtime wardrobe that is separate from my lounge wardrobe. So yea, this one happened pretty consistently.

9) Make the damn bed. EVERY. DAY.

Success Level: Medium

I’ve definitely been better about it, but there’s certainly still room for improvement.

10) Organize, Organize, Organize!

Success Level: Medium

Again, the success here has been mixed. In a lot of ways I feel like my surroundings have ended up even further out of control than they were last year. I’m thinking 2017 is going to have to be the year of purging as opposed to the year of organizing.

11) Drink more water

Success Level: High

Generally I’ve been a lot better about this. Getting into the habit of carrying around a water bottle has helped, and specifically they addition of a Tervis water bottle was great – far easier to clean and keep clean than those nalgines since it just cleans like a regular cup.

gratitude

12) Stay Thankful

Success Level: Low.

I’ve had a rough year in terms of stress and its sometimes very hard for me to stay grounded in gratitude when I feel like I’m being chased by someone with a knife all the time. I’ve spent a good chunk of the year working on ways to help manage my stress a little better, and keep all my various commitments under control, but it’s still a struggle.

So 2016 was a pretty mixed bag in terms of my own personal goals. Hopefully next year I can improve on them even more!

Here’s to a happy and healthy 2017!

How did you do on your resolutions this year?

(All photos originally appeared in the original resolution post here)

Six Last Minute Knitted (and Crocheted) Gift Patterns

It’s that time of year again! Gift giving season! I figured that this would be a perfect time to post a compilation of a few of my favorite, tried and tested fast knitting patterns – you know, in case anyone needs to procure a thoughtful, hand-knit gift in the span of a mere afternoon.

favorite last minute gifts header

All photos are taken from the Ravelry Pattern page, and link back to the original source.

FernLaceCowl_medium2

1) Fern Lace Cowl by Jami Brynildson – I’ve made several of these over the years – it’s a quick knit that’s interesting enough to keep you entertained without being too brainpower intensive, allowing you to easily pump this project out in an afternoon. And the finished project looks way more complicated than it is, and is very versatile. It can look drastically different depending on your yarn choice – in case you’ve got more than one to make!

Polka Dot Christmas Stockings

2) Polka Dot Christmas Stocking by Priscilla Hewitt – Again, a pattern I’ve used a number of times over the years, both last minute and in advance! The rounds are super quick to complete making this another 1 afternoon make. The only tricky part of this one is putting it all together at the end – there is no piecing diagram – but it’s not too difficult to figure out. Three rounds per row, offset to make them lock in with one another. The toe can be a little finicky if you’re not good with spacial reasoning (I have one or two of these that has a little bit of a lumpy toe as a result of me rushing too fast) but even if the toe doesn’t come out quite right, it still ends up looking great in the end.

Bella Mittens

3) Bella’s Mittens by Marielle Henault – This is a pattern that was SUPER popular a number of years ago in the heat of the Twilight craze, since they’re based off of mittens the character of Bella apparently wears in the movie. I was never a Twilight fan. The whole premise and execution of it is just really icky to me for a number of reasons. But this pattern? I LOVE this pattern. I made these mittens as a gift for my mom, and had allotted like, three weeks for them since I had never done cables on DPNs before. I definitely did not need it. They were done in an afternoon and a half – and honestly the extra half afternoon is only because I stalled putting on the thumbs. The bulky yarn has a great deal to do with how quickly they knit up, and you can also shave even more time off by cutting the amounts of repeats on the cuffs so they don’t go almost up to the elbow.

hill country Hat

4) Hill Country Hat by Clara Parkes – This was my very first hat pattern, and it’s remained in my repertoire ever since because of the ease and speed that it knits up. It’s also easily editable for big or small heads, and for those who do or do not prefer some extra length to fold up.

Calorimetry

5) Calorimetry by Kathryn Schoendorf – This is the OG messy bun hat, if you ask me. This pattern is probably in almost every raveler’s notebook in some form or another – it’s crushing popularity after its release in the Winter 2006 edition of Knitty was just insane. It’s got over 18,000 projects filed on Ravelry, making it the 3rd most popular free pattern on the entire website. It’s easy to knit, easy to personalize with crocheted flowers or other embellishments, and SUPER practical (in addition to this style of headband being pretty “in” right now). That said, you do need to be familiar with your intended recipient’s head size, as the sizing can be a bit finicky in my experience. The first one I made (and I even paid attention to gauge, which I NEVER do) wore more like a babushka than a headband on me. However, with its immense popularity there’s a lot of ways documented about how to adjust for a bigger or smaller head available in Ravelry project pages.

cozy ribbed scarf

6) Cozy Ribbed Scarf by Dawn Regan – And lastly, this cozy ribbed scarf is also a winner – super simple pattern, and again, easily customizable in terms of look depending on yarn choice. It can look polished or casual, preppy or boho. Chunky yarn makes this knit up super quickly, and the result is warm and totally “in” right now.

Do you have any favorite quick knits (or crochets)?

What’s Up, Wednesday?

During the lull of the last few months I’ve been…

antm logo

… listening to: America’s Next Top Model. I can’t really say that I’ve been watching it, as it’s mostly just been on in the background as I work. I like seeing the results of the photo shoots, and there’s something about Tyra Banks that I just really like for whatever reason. I don’t really have words for why I like her so much, but I do. I know she’s got a reputation for being a little bit cuckoobird, but I love it. She just seems like she’s so unabashedly her, and I admire that. I imagine it’s far easier to just be YOU, weird and goofy and all, with no worries when you’ve got a bazillion dollar empire behind you, but even so. So old seasons of ANTM have been my soundtrack for the last few weeks.

brush calligraphy

… learning: brush calligraphy. This was one of my New Years Resolutions, and unlike some other resolutions that I’ve made in the past, I’ve been working pretty consistently on this one for most of the year. I’m still just okay, but I can actively see improvement from a few months ago, so that’s pretty cool.

game of thrones

… watching: Game of Thrones. Oh. My. God. How did I not hop on this train earlier!? nnngghhhhhhh. Jim and I started watching a couple of weeks ago after my brother bought my Dad season one for Father’s Day (my dad read the first book back in the day, and enjoyed it), and after I accidentally watched the “Battle of the Bastards” episode (the apartmentmate was watching it and I perked up at the SUPER AWESOME depiction of a pitched battle… I love me a good medieval murderfest…) We’re on season 3 now. This show, man… It makes me angry and frustrated, and sad and then mad all over again… but (generally) I love every second.

sansa stark red

…obsessing over: my new Sansa Stark red hair. Basically this is the exact color I’ve always wanted. Sort of ginger, sort of brown, with just a little bit of blonde depending on the light… it’s like, perfect. And after starting to watch game of thrones? I FINALLY had something other than like a video game screenshot (my Inquisitor and my Sole Survivor have this exact color) to use as reference for my stylist. Sansa Stark red. Perfect.

pokemon go

…playing: Pokemon Go. Because who isn’t? Well, plenty of people. But I’m playing, so yea. RIP my phone battery.

armpit cuddles

… enjoying: getting to know this little brat. Sieglinde. My parent’s new Goldendoodle puppy. And brat is definitely the right word for her… But I love her. Full post on her to come.

… working on: getting my life back together. Those of you who have been around on this blog journey with me for a while know that the past year and a half have been rough for me thanks to a persistent anxiety problem. My attempts to get a handle on it by myself just really weren’t working, as the continued silence here probably made clear. So I’ve finally started therapy to get it under control, and so far the experience has been a very positive one. I feel more relaxed and in control of my life than I can remember, really since I left school.

I have what’s been referred to around the internet as “high-functioning” anxiety. It’s not something that you’d see or that you’d know I was struggling with unless you were super close to me. This article describes what it’s like to have that constant “worst case scenario” running through your head but still appear “well adjusted” (whatever that means) to the rest of the world. My triggers are different, and my version of “learning to live with it” looked a bit different, but the overall idea is the same. Someday I’ll feel like the time is right to share my whole anxiety journey with you. Because I’m still in the process of working on changing my thought patterns, that time isn’t now. But I’m feeling like there’s a real light at the end of the tunnel for the first time in a long time.

So that’s like, super great.

What have you been up to the last few months?

Happy New Year Everyone!

brush pen

Well, it’s that time again, blogosphere. It’s a new year. And of course, inevitably that means it’s RESOLUTION TIME.

Yes.

Once again, as I always do, I’m going to come up with a list of things I want to accomplish/work at in 2016.

I haven’t been terribly successful with this kind of goal making in the past, and last year was no different (I’ll have a post next week assessing my successes and not-so-successes from 2015), but I don’t really feel like that’s a huge problem. My general attitude about these things is that it doesn’t hurt to try. I’m a big believer in the process – the idea that you don’t have to meet EVERY resolution to the letter for resolution making to help you better yourself. I honestly don’t think resolutions not met are really FAILURES – so long as there was some effort made, and so long as you tried to be conscious of your decision-making.

To me it’s all about intention, and my intention is to better myself in whatever way I can – even if I don’t necessarily meet the specific goals I originally laid out. At the risk of sounding like a motivational office poster – it’s all about the journey.

And so whether I meet them or not, I’m gonna keep making them.

So, here we go.

MY GOALS FOR 2016

Header

1) Learn Brush Calligraphy

I’ve wanted to do this for forever, plain and simple. I can do a competent Blackletter with normal calligraphy nibs already, and so I figure learning this more modern and fun style is just a matter of setting my mind to it. I can already do it some – so long as I have references (see above) – but I want to perfect my technique, learn the fonts by heart and be able to do it on the fly.

sketchbook

2) Fill a full sketchbook with figure drawing

I had “fill a sketchbook” on my list last year, and while I got close, it was mostly with attempts at hand-lettering, which, while fun, was not exactly the original goal I had in mind. See, I used to draw a ton when I was younger, and I want to get back to it – and specifically, I like drawing people. So this year I’m specifying.

reading

3) Read for at least 2 hours a week (reading not required by work) and be better about updating Goodreads.

Now that I’m an adult, I legitimately always have “read more” in some form on my list. This year is no different. I read like CRAZY as a kid, and I really long for the days when I’d go through like, 4 or 5 books a week. While I realize that THAT will never happen again – I have spent the last few years really trying to make regular pleasure reading a habit again. I tried putting a specific number on how many books I wanted to read last year, and it did increase my total reading from last year – but I also kind of felt constrained by it. Particularly since I chose specific books from the start.

So this year I’m going to try a time requirement instead, and see if that works a little better. I figure if I read for like, 15 minutes to half an hour most nights in bed, I can hit that 2 hour mark pretty consistently.

I’m also going to try to keep up a little better with Goodreads, just because.

WIPs

4) Finish all outstanding WIPs – both Knitting and Crochet

Ugh, I’ve been so bad about WIPs (works in progress) this past year. I’ve started a bunch, and then abandoned them like, a third of the way in. I just need to get them off the needles and hooks. They’re cluttering up my space, half-finished, and I don’t like it. If I can get down to 0 WIPs, I’ll be a happy camper.

sneakers

5) Run another 5k

I miss running regularly. I want to get back into it. It’s as simple as that.

recipe books

6) Try 12 new recipes

I love cooking. Love it. But as we found out with last two years’ resolutions, I uhhhhh don’t have enough time to do it with any regularity. And when I do? I basically cook the same like, seven dishes. Because they’re easy, and I know them from memory. So this year I’m not endeavoring to cook more, or cook healthier – I’m simply seeking to diversify my recipe repertoire. Make 7 into 19. Maybe 20 if we make it a baker’s dozen.

Lets make it a baker’s dozen.

makeup

7) Get better with makeup

I have a ton of makeup. Like, really good makeup. Stila, and Urban Decay, and Tarte… lots of stuff I could never in a bazillion years afford to buy myself (I’ve acquired most of my collection as gifts over the years). But I kind of sort of don’t know how to actually use it? Like, I can do a decent everyday look, and I have my concert look. But that’s basically it. I change up the colors I use, mostly, but it’s still just those same two looks: simple liner and one shadow (for everyday), or a cat-eye and dark shadow gradient (concerts).

I have all this wonderful wonderful stuff (that is a delight to use) – so I really should be using it more regularly. Specifically this year I have three goals: 1) I want to get better about using color – learn how to blend them and depart from my usual browns and greys 2) I want to try new eyeshadow looks – for example, a smokey eye vs. a simple one, colored eyeliner, etc… and 3), in a slight continuance of last year’s “take more fashion risks” – I want to wear red lipstick without it being Christmas or a concert. Just because.

PJs

8) Pajamas are for bedtime only.

Working from home part of the year is AWESOME, but it’s definitely not without its own drawbacks and challenges. I’ve pretty much got a good routine down – I resist the urge to sleep in, to take too many breaks, to play video games instead of working when I should, etc… but there’s one big temptation I haven’t yet conquered, and that’s the temptation to stay in my PJs all day. See, I basically just sleep in sweats and tee shirts. I haven’t owned actual “pajamas” since I was like… idk, 10? And the bottom line is, comfy as they may be, hanging around in the clothes I sleep in all day – even if they’re fresh from the washer after a shower – makes me feel less productive (even if I haven’t been) and lazy (no matter how much I got done). A few days of that can take tremendous a toll on my overall attitude. I quickly start to feel like I don’t have my shit together – and that’s horrible for someone who has an anxiety issue that has recently centered around feeling like they don’t have their shit together.

So I’m just not going to do it anymore. I recently invested in actual pajamas, so I’m hoping that having “sleep clothes” that are specifically different from my “hang around the house clothes” will make a difference. I’m going to make a point to “get dressed” every single day and see where that takes me.

9) Make the damn bed. EVERY. DAY.

This is along the same lines as the last goal – basically I feel like I have my shit together more when I make my bed. And since my big issue with anxiety last year spent a lot of time centered around NOT feeling like I have my shit together – I’m just going to do it.

10) Organize, Organize, Organize!

Again, same as above. Chaos around me leads to chaos internally. So I’m going to keep everything far more organized this year. The more organized everything is, the easier it is to keep the apartment clean, and the cleaner the apartment – the better I feel.

I hope.

11) Drink more water

I just generally have a problem with this. I don’t drink enough liquid throughout the day and that is starting to have more and more of a toll on my overall health as I get older (in ways I’m 100% sure you don’t want to hear about). So more water it is.

gratitude

And last, but honestly the most important:

12) Stay Thankful

My 30 Days of Gratitude challenge – though I never finished it in terms of blog posts, made a HUGE difference in my end-of-year attitude. It was the most stress-free end of the semester into holiday season that I’ve had in a very long time. And so I want to try to hold onto that magic as best I can. I want to try to keep that positivity and easy contentment, even as we move into the new year.

And hopefully, all these things together will make for an overall more positive 2016.

Here’s hoping.

Happy New Year!

30 Days of Gratitude and Reflection

30 Days of Gratitude and Reflection resized

As you’ve probably figured out by now, I’m not usually one for making a blog post every day. I normally don’t really have the time or energy required to do that. And so a lot of “blog challenges” aren’t really something I ever take on or complete – particularly if they’re formatted in an “every day” kind of way.

However, 2015 has been a rough year for me emotionally, and I find myself really needing to take some time and take stock of the good things in life. Additionally I desperately need to get back in the swing of regular blogging. So I’ve decided to combine the two needs into one sort of kick-start project that I’ve created for myself: 30 Days of Gratitude and Reflection.

I’ve created this challenge list myself, both by going through other lists and picking my favorites, as well as adding in some topics of my own that I know I need to be more grateful for. My hope is that by completing this challenge I can sort of refocus myself on all the wonderful things that have a positive impact on my life, and on helping me to become the person I am. Because of my schedule and stress level I know I tend to focus on “glass half empty” kind of stuff, and I’m hoping this will help me be more of a “glass half full” kind of person – at least for a little while.

Above is the Challenge list I plan to complete – if you want to play along, you’re absolutely welcome to. I’ve designed the list so that every “day” can be a single post, or you can play catch up and do a couple at a time, or you can pick and choose the ones that appeal to you. I’d love to hear from all of you!

I personally will probably be doing some individual posts and some “catch up posts,” and I’ll be tagging anything I post on instagram with the hashtag #30daysofgratitudeandreflection. But even if you don’t want to play along there or on your blog, I’d love to hear what you’re thankful for in the comments!

So here’s to a far more present, positive, and thankful November!

Back to School Week: Common Faux Pas When Communicating With Professors

Back to School Week Day 2 Communicating with Professors

So, funny story. I’ve literally been agonizing over this post for a year and a half. I had originally intended it to be part of back to school week LAST year, but ended up chickening out of posting it.

Why? Because it seems like a fairly good topic, and probably (hopefully) contains sound advice…

Well, mainly because so many other articles I’ve read that are written by professors and deal with this kind of stuff take on such a negative, snarky, and frankly condescending tone. And I don’t want this to be like that. I don’t want to be like that.

So I’ve tried my best not to be. Students don’t deserve that – particularly since a lot of this stuff is stuff you guys do unintentionally. Cultural habits that are totally acceptable with your peers, but that don’t really jive with the cultural realities of academia. And the professors that this stuff bother also don’t deserve the ire that so often ends up directed towards them in reaction – because just like any other field or profession there are certain things that are just not acceptable within that culture and simply because it’s education shouldn’t mean you should respect those mores any less.

So let’s keep the comments respectful and be kind to one another.

That said, let’s proceed!

—————-

“Sorry I missed class, did I miss anything important?”

The answer is always a resounding “YES!” Even if your professor doesn’t say it, I guarantee you they’re thinking it. The information covered in class is never just “throw away” stuff, and your professors have spent countless hours preparing it, writing it, planning it, etc… While we generally know that you don’t mean to come off this way, the reality is that asking for what you missed in this manner essentially invalidates all that work and effort, and insinuates that what we do in class routinely, well, isn’t important. That important is an aberration from the norm. And while I understand that not every class is 100% relevant to your personal interests, and not every professor uses 100% of their class time effectively, it’s still something that gets a lot of professors’ hackles up and comes off as mildly rude. Asking instead, “what did I miss?” is a far more polite option – but the best way to go about it? Get notes and the gist of what you missed from a classmate, and then contact your professor with any specific questions about the material.

Emailing them after hours and then getting upset when you don’t get a reply immediately.

Bottom line is that professors have lives too, and they often don’t revolve around their email accounts. They have families, friends, homes to maintain, grocery shopping to do, other jobs (if they’re adjunct) to attend to, not to mention a crapload of other work responsibilities besides teaching (committee meetings, administrative hoops to jump through, research and writing responsibilities, advising responsibilities – the list goes on and on). Professor is simply not a job that is naturally conducive to “having a life,” outside of work, and so a lot of professors limit their email checking to when they’re in the office, or to one or two set times in the evening in an effort to keep some semblance of a healthy work-life balance. Even those of us who get our email on our phones will, depending on what we’re doing at the moment, merely check to make sure it’s not some sort of emergency, and then add it to the list of things to attend to when we get into the office the next morning.

Now obviously, it’s one thing if you email a professor and then don’t hear from them for days. Then I would suggest you go talk to them in person about it. But in general, just try to have realistic expectations. Remember that your professors are people who exist outside of the classroom/office setting. And if it’s something that does absolutely need an immediate response for whatever reason? Honestly, email is not the way to go: call them.

Emailing as a first resort.

This is sort of along the same lines as above – basically remember that your professors have a buttload of responsibilities, both personal and professional, besides attending to you. Most professors will do their best to make you a priority, but bottom line is that you should try to figure out the answer to your question using your own means before emailing. Check the syllabus, check the assignment requirement sheets, check the class website. Do these things first and THEN if you still don’t have an answer, email away. This is simply a more effective use of both your time, and your professors’ – particularly if the answer to your question is simply, “it’s in the syllabus.”

Ending an email with “Thank you for understanding” when you don’t yet know if they understand.

You know how the old saying goes: “Never ASSUME, because when you ASSUME, you make an ASS out of U and ME.” And I guarantee that if it is about something the professor would have been on the fence about to begin with, that presumption is probably going to push them into the “not understanding” category. Because essentially what that little “thank you for understanding” does is transform asking for permission into telling them that this is happening regardless of how they respond. That presumption can get a lot of professors’ hackles up at light-speed, even if the request is fairly innocuous, so I’d recommend you avoid using it as a sign off.

Waiting until the night before an assignment is due to email them with major questions.

This is generally a dead give-away for “I waited until the last minute to even begin working on this,” and will leave us either chuckling and shaking our heads or face palming in disappointment (depending on our individual moods/attitudes – I tend to be the chuckling type). It also, of course, does you no favors, because the more last minute it is, the less likely it is that your professor will even see it before the assignment is due. Now it’s one thing if you’ve had several back-and-forths with the prof already, and it’s just a minor question about something like formatting – basically if it’s something that realistically you’d still be working on at this last minute point. But waiting until the last minute to contact them with major content questions is just a huge giveaway.

Now again, I realize that sometimes shit happens, and even the most responsible, conscientious student can sometimes let things go to the last minute – it’s certainly not like I never pulled an overnighter in college finishing up a paper that I let slip my mind. I get it, I really do. But unless it’s because of something that warrants asking for an extension (and no, “I forgot about it” is generally not a valid reason for an extension), I’d recommend just taking your punches gracefully, and completing the assignment the best you can. As a student I always far preferred taking whatever points I got off for not being able to clear up my questions when I procrastinated as my just deserts for letting it go so long to letting the professor know I had totally waited until the last minute and possibly damaging my standing in their eyes.

Now, if you have no problem with them knowing that you waited until the last minute? If you feel like showing the professor your hand in exchange for having the question answered is worth it in terms of points? Then absolutely ask away. Just know you’re giving yourself away when you email us with massive content questions like that, and the reality is that some professors will view you more poorly for it.

So I suppose this whole section boils down to: know that we know and proceed as you will.

Using overly informal email conventions or text-speak when you don’t really know the professor.

Until you get to know your professor a little better, and can accurately judge how informal you can be in emails based on their personality, treat communicating with your professor like professional communication – because it is! Be polite, be courteous, be formal. Use a professional greeting, address them using their preferred title (Dr. So and So or Professor So and So – not Ms. or Mr.), and use full words and sentences (no “ur” for “your” or “2” for “to,” or “too,”) etc… etc…

Now once you get to know your professor a little better, it may end up being a different story. Once I get to know a student and they get to know me, I don’t think twice if an email comes in without a proper professional greeting, without a professional sign off, or with informal phrasing (although I still don’t care for text-speak). But not all professors are like that, and it’s best to play it safe until you figure out if yours is one of them!

—————-

To wrap this whole thing up I guess all of these specific things can be easily generalized into being as respectful, considerate, and professional as possible.

But that would have made for a much shorter post!

Anything you think I missed? Add it in the comments (just remember to be respectful)!