How hours get eaten up by five minute tasks

One of the things that I constantly feel is that I never have enough time anymore. Having a 18 month old baby plus another one on the way probably contributes to this fact but I think it is also very related to DH. DH is exciting and there is so much stuff that I want to do but sometimes I begin to feel a bit over stretched.

Sometimes I wish I could concentrate on one big project (like when I was doing my PhD *sigh*) but I always seem to have an endless to do list of little things that take up my whole day. Quinn wrote in her blog today “Most days are filled with minutiae like this, and sometimes it feels like an endless email/to-do list treadmill, particularly when I don’t carve out time to make progress on my bigger projects” and I completely identify with that.

So I spent most of today writing emails and following up on several DH related projects/events/publications. A quick summary that will hopefully exemplify the diversity:

1) University of Illinois has very generously provided funding for Miriam Peña, a member of the RedHD to travel to the HASTAC conference in Peru. So glad that someone is going and an excellent opportunity for networking. So I can check that one off the list!

2) Checking up on review process for the conference Ages of the Book in October this year. I am on the organizing committee.  Organizing conferences is an endless stream of little to do’s which take up loads of time as anyone who has organized an event will know. And still many months away before I can check this one off the list.

3) Following up on a few issues related to the Encuentro de HD that will be held in May here in Mexico City.  I haven’t done so much work on it this year as I did the first time round but still helping out with website, liaising with venue director, chasing people etc. Unfortunately I don’t think I will be able to go as baby is due that week. It promises to be an exciting event and it is a bit of a downer when you don’t get to participate in the event that you have been working on. But I have a much more starring role to play elsewhere!

4) Trying to start a book chapter on DH in a global context. So far getting nowhere with it. I don’t really have the time to sit down and concentrate which is what I need. I think this is common to all researchers but even more so for DH researchers! Chapter is due in October but as taking maternity leave I really need to get a head start. No check on that one yet.

5) Reviewing two students master thesis proposals. I am on the committee for the MA in Library and Information Studies at the UNAM where I also teach the Digital Library course. One of the thesis is on quality control in digital libraries and the other quite interesting in fact, is on museums and digital libraries. Managed to write about half of the review. Hopefully will finish tomorrow.

6) Very excited about a book we are planning on DH. Booked room for meeting that we are having tomorrow. We are currently working on a chapter proposal. Has been fun! Check on booking room! No check on finishing the book though and that is still a long way off.

7) Trying to wrap up project on Digital editions that was funded by the UNAM and where I studied the development of three different digital editions, as classified by the researchers developing them.  The editions are: a painstakingly constructed PDF that must of taken months of work and it is so not useful that I feel sorry for the group, a wonderful  collection of ancient texts in Nahuatl that you still have to download the zip file and install it in your computer but with fantastic tools and a Latin dictionary that we are helping out with the markup in TEI using Textual Communities. I have to document the research process and results and hand in a final report by the end of this month. It is moving slowly! No check on that either.

And yet, as I look back at the work we have done at the RedHD over the past few years I realize that even though all of this looks like minute tasks, they do add up and in the end you manage to produce things. I am immensely proud of all that we have achieved. Just difficult to see the big picture when sometimes you feel you are drowning in the details!