I leave on Thursday for San Francisco. Between now and then there are a dozen things on my to-do list. It seems hard to imagine that I'll get it all done.
Some of the tasks are about leaving my colleagues, including my teaching assistants, with what they need to continue on. That means making sure they know what I expect, and providing them with any materials that they can't easily produce themselves.
Some of the tasks are about being ready to come back. That means getting paperwork in before I leave if it's due while I leave, and having structures in mind for classes, assignments, and activities that will happen as soon as the break ends.
And some of it -- not as much as you'd think -- is about being ready for the trip. I still have to cut down the paper I'm giving so it will fit in the 20-minute presentation slot, and rehearse it. I have to make sure the materials for the committee and board meetings I'm attending are on my iPad to be read on the plane.
And if I have time, I need to deal with some regional business -- work on the new operating agreement that will clarify our relationship to the national organization, communicate with my regional leadership, get the program submitted for next spring's regional meeting.
The last part is what I've been letting slide. It's the one thing where I set the schedule, more or less. Everything else is coming quickly no matter what I do, and all I can do is be as diligent as possible so I'm ready when it gets here. But the regional business is something I can't let slide forever, and I wish I had the space to make it a higher priority and to do a better job at it.
In the end, I have to check off everything on my list that will cause me and other people immediate problems if I don't take care of it. And while I'm away, I know what will happen, because it always happens at conferences: I'll get excited about a number of other projects, even though I'm not giving the ones I have my full attention as it is. Happily, there are only a couple more years until some of those responsibilities pass to others. So maybe my main job should be not to take on too many more until I have a chance to catch my breath. My to-do list doesn't need to get any longer!