Monday, August 14, 2006

I'm in denial

I must be in denial, because for the past three days (Thurs, Fri, and today), the top item on my to-do list has been "Prepare for classes". Specifially, prepare for this brand-spanking-new class I'm teaching. How much work have I actually done on this item? Zero.

On the flip side, procrastinating on that one task has made me super-productive on just about everything else in my life:
* I've run a bunch of new experiments that one of my summer research students never bothered to do (and that I didn't realize until last Friday---when I really needed the data. Oops. That made for a fun Friday night).
* I've updated and cleaned up a bunch of code. Sometimes undergrads write really bizarre code. This might be a topic for a separate post.
* I've cleaned out my Inbox and sent a bunch of way-overdue emails. And filled out a bunch of surveys. Everyone wants my opinion. I am powerful!! (yeah, right)
* I've done a ton of writing. (there's so much more to do though!!)
* I've gone back-to-school shopping. I didn't need much, just a few "staples" (like khaki pants that actually fit me and are flattering---thank you, Banana Republic!). I also ordered a computer bag online. I figured it was time to get a real, stylish bag and stop carrying around those cheapie conference tote bags. Wow, I must be a grownup now!
* I've updated my CV for this professional volunteer opportunity I've been invited to apply to.
* I've started reading through the stack of journals, etc that have been piling up for months now. I've already found stuff that I can use in my fall classes. (Hmm, maybe that should count as class prep?)

All good stuff, but none of which are getting me any closer to having a clue as to what I'll be doing in the classroom this fall. So today, I swear that I will do some real, actual class prep!!

After lunch, of course. :)


FemaleCSGradStudent said...

oo ooh. Which bag?

I do not envy the delicate balance that you must implement between teaching and research. I myself am horrible at context switching between multiple large projects, and tend to focus on one project for too long in the day at the expense of the other. Good luck with the upcoming semester.

Jane said...

Yeah, finding the balance is hard during the school year. Context switching is definitely a learned skill. Thinking in 15-minute increments helps a bit, but it definitely hurts the ability to do "deep thinking".

I ordered the bag from eBags--it's the Clark & Mayfield one (the metro tote? something like that). I ordered the orange one--hopefully it's not too bright or garish!

Lossy said...

Ahhhhh.... nothing like work avoidance on a REALLY BIG IMPORTANT thing to produce astonishing productivity in other areas. (Don't ask me how I know...)

Jane said...

very true, lossy!

Wicked Teacher of the West said...

I'm a huge fan of structured procrastination. I don't know how I'd get anything done if I didn't have something else I was avoiding!

I don't know why it would make you feel better, but I can tell you that I'm revamping everything I teach - keeping the good stuff, but moving everything around - and other than a theoretical outline of concepts, I haven't actually done any work on it either. So we can sit together on the not-ready-for-school bench.

CMT said...

I swear I'm going to learn from you! I'll do things other than rebuild my system when I'm procrastinating and instead try to do useful things (because in my case, new cflags are not, in fact, useful).

I particularly like your task list in the sidebar and am contemplating copying it (would you mind?). Do you find that it helps you to get things done?

Luckily, I don't have a new never-before-taught-at-my-school course to teach until winter term (and have I done anything for it yet? No). I'm not teaching this fall, because I have a wonderful chair and am instead revising an advanced experimental lab course (um, I'm a theorist, so it should be funny). This means that, for once, I'm not feeling very guilty about course prep.

Oh, and I hate to admit it (that hipster thing, so depressing), but I love my Timbuktu bag!

Anonymous said...

I never procrastinate, except when preparing for new classes. If I prepare too far in advance, I forget what my notes mean by the time the lecture rolls around. [I do however, collect things for a couple months in advance and prepare an outline of the class; but actual preparation of notes waits until a day or two before the class.]

Jane said...

WTOTW, that sound a lot like what I'm doing, too. I also had this great idea to write the assignments for each class first, then go back and fill in the holes in the syllabus. How many assignments have I written so far? 3, for one class. Oops. Definitely save me a space on that bench!

CMT, I'm a system tweaker too! The sidebar thing does help a bit, especially on days when I'm totally not motivated to do anything ("if I do this one little task, I can move that percentage up!"). The one problem I've found is that I'm not always good about updating, especially when projects change (i.e., right now I'm working on two writing projects, but I haven't put them on the sidebar yet). The Timbuktu bags are nice---if this bag doesn't work out, I'm giving them a second look.

Anon, you raise a good point. Where I've run into problems is when I leave things like writing assignments until a day or two before I assign them, hence the more structured advanced planning. But other than that, there is value in doing the "details prep" right before each class.

CMT said...

Thanks, Jane.

I just spend two full days rewriting the site (this is work how, exactly?) and learning css (pretty sure it's not going to help me with the grants), but I don't have task lists yet. Soon, really!

Didn't run today, either.

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