Lazy-Hazy-Crazy Days.

August 9, 2012

There’s a certain inevitability to the academic summer. It’s never as productive as the May-version of yourself thinks it will be. As soon as August creeps up on us and September is in sight, the regrets begin and we start to blame ourselves for being ambitious to the point of ruination, destining ourselves to fall short of our goals and thus, wallow in the paralysis of impossibility. Self-loathing and accusations of laziness may be part of the formula. Time seems strangely unaccounted for: just where, exactly, did the first half of June and the middle third of July go? What do I have to show for it?

Before I start down the slippery slope of self-loathing and accusation, Professor Rottweiler is going to take a left turn at the traffic light and redirect her energies. How about, this summer, instead of hating ourselves for what we didn’t do, we congratulate ourselves for what we did do? So may be you couldn’t start checking off your task list until well nigh the end of June. So what? Have you ever noticed how utter exhaustion and fatigue set in mere moments after that last grade is turned in? It’s because you’ve spent an entire semester pouring generous energies into teaching, planning, classroom management, assessment, advising, lecture writing and lesson plans (and that doesn’t even cover all of the research activities you keep up with, and the service requirements you fulfill). It’s no wonder that when the teaching semester ends, all of the strain and anxiety of keeping your s&^t together for the classroom gives way to recovery time. Check recovery off of your list. It had to happen. Without recovery time, none of us would ever step back into the classroom come the fall, let alone have enough energy or wits left to write a single word towards those oh-so-vital pubs that will seal the tenure deal.

And while one may not have accomplished everything on that to-do list, one has to think of summer plans sort of like running a race. (Warning: here comes a silly analogy that takes its cue from the Olympic season and all). When running a race, the runner runs full out to a point beyond the finish line. Think of the summer task list as being a good distance past the finish line. If you cross off a good half of that list, you’ve made a significant distance. No one does everything on that summer task list. And let’s wring a couple more comparisons out of our racing analogy, and emphasize that a strong finish is important. WIth a few weeks left till the semester starts, there is still time and sufficient motivation to get through a few more tasks. 

So how about it? Load up your playlist with some of your favorite tunes and start pounding the pavement. Whether the task is whipping Fall syllabi into shape, polishing up a chapter, starting a new project, building a bibliography or otherwise catching up on literature, or even squeezing in that one last all-important vacation so you’re tank is full when the teaching season begins again, there is still time to cross the finish line in top form. 

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