Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Time Management, Einsteinian Relativity Edition

Let me first say how wonderful it is to be teaching back in my home department after quarters or years spent scrounging in other departments or underemployed (and some fellowship time is in there too). I hadn't realized how much the isolation and lack of appreciation I was feeling was due to wandering from the library to a building far from my department and sitting alone in a TA cubicle, without ever seeing anyone. How different it is right now! On the first day I taught section I must have chatted and caught up with about 20 different people --- so many people said nice things to me! So many people wondered where I've been and how I was doing! They made plans to do social events with me! Yay!

However nice that may all be, I am now remembering the down side of departmental connectedness, and don't really want to count up how many hours I spent last week on chatting, talking, lunching, griping, reminiscing, advising, and pontificating. And that's not counting the time I was spending on dealing with teaching administrative details. This week, so far, has been more of the same ---- Hey, I don't feel depressed, who cares about that little ol' dissertation thing anyway? In fact, after lecture, I felt weirdly "off" and unwilling to turn towards my diss work --- as if I wanted to teach and was riding the high of giving a good lecture (I'm the TA, not the one actually giving said lecture, I should add. I guess I can wax enthusiastic just by association). I found myself hunting for talking/teaching related things to do, and as I didn't have any on my list, I did pretty much nothing for the rest of the morning. (Oh, afternoon wasn't a waste ---- but needing a cooling-off period just from listening to lecture? Meh.)

I need to do about a bazillion things this quarter for my own work (see to the right; I have more stuff to update for that list). And I still remain fixed in my lumpish, unathletic ways (a social lump, but a lump nonetheless). When last I swam regularly, I went in to campus super early and just got it all out of the way. I just wore a hat in on the bus and packed in my makeup and nice clothes if need be, and did one set of shower/dress up for the day. I can't deal with multiple sets of showerings and dressings and all that crap. However, the times I have worked best and hardest at my diss were the times I made sure to get a couple hours of writing done right away and then read or did piddly little organization stuff in the afternoon. And however however (or however one is doubly digressive, or contrary, or whatnot), my lecture and sections are smack in the early morning this quarter, making it good to get over with but also taking up my most alert and perfectly caffeinated time of the day, before I finish the second big cup and get so jittery I have to take a walk.

So I need to do everything first thing in the morning, or it doesn't get done. Right now, the only thing I can and will be able to put later is hanging out with other grad students. How should I set this up? What can I put later in the day, and how should I actually get myself to do that later thing?

(You know, I have the same problems with writing essays: "But all four of my major points need to come first! They are each predicated on the other, like an M.C. Escher painting! Can I write the paper in parallel rather than linearly?)

If only someone could invent a time machine, or perhaps clone myself and have the other Me do some of the work? (Although if Other Me got to be all buff and social while I graded things and wrote pages of diss crap, I would be pissed.)

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