Sunday, 18 December 2011

What professors do during breaks

It is now holiday period, aka research period. The new term starts on January 16, and I don't have to go to work until then. However, I need to plan carefully how to make the most of my time. Some things are inevitable. I have to grade a pile of essays by Jan 9, and I have to read through a certain number of colleagues' collected works by Jan 19. The latter is part of the Faculty research assessment, and I really don't understand why it has to be done during the holiday season. But alas! this is not negotiable.

I have to make some progress on the book I am writing. If I make considerable progress on the book by mid-January I won't feel anxious about it anymore since I will have two more research periods before the deadline. The thing is, I'd much rather be working on a different book, but I must finish the first book because I have a contract. I may get a contract for the second book soon, and then I am in real trouble. Which means I really, really need to make good progress on the first book. For the second book, I am writing a number of papers that will hopefully develop into chapters. I need to keep the first and the second book separate because they are on different topics. It is difficult to keep two projects separate because they interfere with each other. It takes me at least a day to get into an ongoing project so I cannot afford jumping between the two.

I need to read through the pile of books I have been pushing aside for a while. Most of the books are related to the second project and therefore interfere with the first project. I need to read and re-read some books for the first project. (Are you still with me?) These options are negotiable, and I need to negotiate with myself. I can withdraw papers and cancel conferences. I don't have to sign the second contract. In fact, I can withdraw the first project, but my reputation will suffer. So I'd better make some progress...

I now know better than ever that I won't have time for research during full term. I need to plan. I don't want to plan. People who envy professors because they have long breaks are missing the point.

1 comment:

Ness Harbour said...

Totally understand that feeling!Am doing lots of juggling too and am torn between projects and marking and planning for next semester plus a myriad of other projects that need my attention. Who said the life of an academic was an easy one!!