Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Fall break

A few years ago, the academic calendar at UCA was revised. After ballooning up to 16 weeks, the semester was pared back to 14 weeks, a Labor Day holiday was added, and the long slog between September and Thanksgiving was broken up with a two-day break around midterm.

That break is here. The last two weeks have been non-stop pressure, starting with the posting of the spring curriculum and ending with the deadline for the HASTAC Knowledge-Networking award on Monday. I've taken on a couple more writing assignments for the last months of the year -- an additional encyclopedia entry (on top of a few others I'm dreadfully late with already), a journal article -- and I desperately need a few hours to get them started. To make progress on the projects that I have ongoing, like my encyclopedia editorship and my work on the AAR board, I have to put aside an afternoon every couple of weeks, refuse all appointments, and just plow through the stuff that's piled up.

I've had trouble doing what it takes to maintain momentum on these longterm projects, because I tend to let other work encroach on that time. It's hard not to. Administration is a matter of reacting to a thousand things that pop up like whack-a-moles. You can't keep them down in their holes by clearing out space on your calendar. And these longterm projects are exactly the kinds of assignments that have fuzzy deadlines far in the future, work that has waited until now and could, in a pinch, wait some more.

This isn't a complaint -- heck, I've got two days without classes or meetings scheduled. If I can maintain a sense of urgency and avoid the usual procrastination that afflicts me when I have unscheduled time, I should be able to get notes taken for those encyclopedia entries, outline my journal article, update the spreadsheet for the C entries I'm editing, and develop an abstract for a scholarly project I'm trying to get funded.

Of course, tomorrow morning is already booked. I've got to get my TV Club entry for Viva Laughlin up by 10, when I'm going to an information session about our new health care benefits. Then it's lunch with Noel. Tomorrow afternoon, though, it's all about the encyclopedia and the journal. Expect the next blog entry to be aglow with the quiet satisfaction of hard work. That is, unless it's enslimed with the shame of having scrolled through all 1000+ blog posts Google Reader currently has collected for me. (Thank goodness it doesn't post any numbers bigger than "1000+.")

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