week 2

Week 2 of the semester is, in my mind, the "real" week 1, because chronological week 1 is usually so chaotic with students dropping and adding courses, administrative snafus, bookstore problems, and copier breakdowns. Last week was made extra-ridiculous by the crappy winter weather, which not only makes me crabby but adds to the pile of student excuses. I was feeling kind of jumbled and out of sync last week, and attributing it to all sorts of immediate, local circumstances. But then I remembered that I feel that way during almost every single opening week of the semester. I'm just much happier once I have a regular schedule and things settle into some kind of routine.

Now, this semester has the potential to be really productive. I'm finally enjoying the fruits of my administrative labor, in the form of two course reductions, so I'm only teaching one class this semester. The timing couldn't be better: I have two articles due in the next couple of months, three conferences this spring, and a book project I want to have drafted by Christmas. I do, of course, still have my administrivia to do, and we're hiring this spring so there's a lot of meetings and job talks to go to. But last fall I started deliberately saying "No" to a number of things in order to protect this semester as much as possible.

What is going to be a challenge is to figure out how to prioritize research during the semester, as that's a rhythm that's just not very familiar to me. My teaching has to come second or even third right now, which is a different attitude than what I'm used to. It's a course I've taught before, so some of the prep will definitely be reduced -- but it's not even a question of hours so much as attention that I'm finding different. I'm just not thinking about my students or my course very much in between my teaching days -- I answer their emails, I read their work -- but my attention is elsewhere. Or it should be.

So far, my attention has been elsewhere -- but not always as fully on my writing as I would like it to be. Some of that I hope is just the first-week adjustment. So this week has to be different. I'm trying to set up routines for where and when to work on specific projects, so that my focus will be cued by location and habit as well as intention. Intention is good but habit is what gets me through a lot of the day, and tends to win the race.