August 28, 2011
So this semester is probably going to be one of the busiest semesters of my professional life. I have probably said this at the beginning of some past semester…but I’m quite sure that this one will beat out that earlier one. The biggest commitment that I have this semester is the completion of a major text book project (due date Nov 1). Though I have been working on this project through the majority of the summer, I am still working on completing two chapters of major writing revisions and then all 8 chapters of image replacements and other revision odds and ends. Add onto this my heavy teaching load (2 sections Gen Psych, one section Cog Psych = about 90 students), chairing an important faulty committee, leading our college’s curricular revision initiative, and all of the other typical stuff a college prof does (grade, student meetings, faculty meetings, department meetings, ultimate Frisbee competitions, etc, etc.) and I have a mighty full plate.
To address the most pressing issue for me (the text book due date in 2 months) I have done something that I never have before – intentionally hid from my students for blocks of hours at a time. I have scheduled at least 2 hours every day in my schedule (and yes my students know that I am doing this – I explain why) in the afternoons for writing. This accomplishes several things: 1) I actually get writing done and am not inturrupted in my work flow, 2) I am forced not to work on anything else because everything else is left in my office (though I do need to monitor my online distractions), 3) I get a sense of change in the day – staying in one place can be stifling creatively for me . A new location – and a cup of coffee – helps invigorate me. 4) I can model something that I recommend to my students when they do their writing. And finally 5) I get to walk somewhere on campus for some fresh air.
This past week was my first week back to classes (it was a short week) and I tried out my new writing schedule on Wed and Thursday. I have learned a few things 1) our library really has no legit quite area unless you go into a study room. 2) More students use the library in the middle of the afternoon than I thought (though it is just the first week of classes). 3) The library still has the same effect on my now as it did when I was in college – I have a tendency to doze off if I put my head down even for a minute. 4) In lieu of sometimes dozing off, I get A LOT done in these 2ish hours of time.
So I have a feeling that my scheduling will work well…now I just need to protect this precious time. Too often meetings and such can begin to creep in and take over my nice long blocks of uninterrupted work time. At least for this semester I am going to need to be selfish here. When you have a deadline for a major book publisher, you don’t turn in your homework late!