Friday, December 26, 2014

finding a sparring partner

These days everything is slow - at least that is how it feels. Days pass by and sometimes I wonder if something happened earlier today or already yesterday. It is somehow disturbing. From this blurriness a thought about work and how to improve my output came up. I've by far missed my goals for this year and I'm very disappointed of myself. Even though there are a lot of external factors involved in why I missed my goals. But it is not all external factors to blame. Often I just can't find this additional bit of motivation to do something right now. Especially with writing papers I seem to waste a lot of time on side tracks or it takes me a day to write five proper lines. 
When I was a teenager I could easily motivate myself for a lot of stuff. My schedule was full of sports and social events and I usually not only participated, but took over some organizational roles. I LOVED doing all that stuff and my parents sometimes had to stop me and keep my duties to a reasonable amount. While I think it is a teenager thing to be easily motivated (maybe not for school, but for a lot of other stuff) and to be emotionally involved in everything, I was wondering how I could get closer again to this base level of passion. 
The word that crossed my mind was: competition. Not super serious job competition, more like in a low level sports match. Or like the hidden competition when you try to match the speed of another runner in the park. I love playing sports, I love the temporal rivalry and I love to win. So maybe it would help if I'd have a secret sparring partner, an "enemy" team, someone on a similar level but with currently better performance to increase my day-to-day motivation. Trying to match his/her speed, then close the gap, then overtake.
But how to measure performance? H-factor is the first measure that comes to mind, but it depends on so much more than my own direct performance, like: are my collaborators productive and put me on their papers, are my collaborators people how are often cited,... . 
H-factor only of first-author publications might be an option, or - similar - how many first-author publications contribute to the overall h-factor. But then I'm already on a level where my students publish and I'm not first author anymore, but not necessarily last one as well. And the next level people are on the junior professor levels. So there the ratio first-author to non-first-author publications gets even "worse" and performance comparison with a sparring partner on that level would be even more difficult. And do I want to exclude all the other time consuming work I'm doing? Supervision? Teaching? It would get really messy if I'd want to include them.
Maybe I keep it very simple. The weak point in my CV is my low number of first author publications. This is what I want to increase. So I'll look for an "enemy" team (maybe even several people) on a similar level to mine and I'll try to match their number of first author publications. Time-frame depends on how many publications they are ahead of me. A long term goal will be to match their h-factor and the number of first-author publications contributing to it. 
Finding a proper sparring partner is a nice task for the last days of the year.

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