On Again, Off Again Scheduling

This term I’m teaching three days a week: Monday, Wednesday and Friday. That leaves the other two days a week for research, writing and editing.

It’s been a while since I’ve had two days in a term that were out of the classroom, especially in my heavy term which isn’t as heavy as some have been. Only three courses in my official workload but there’s also one graduate directed readings meeting at a timeslot still TBA. Usually I’ve been lucky to have one non-teaching day in a week and that usually gets further complicated by being on a day when I have regular committee obligations. This year? Not yet. All may change when the T&P committee ramps up for actual meetings but if they’re slow to get started, that might wait until next term. For now, my Tuesdays and Thursdays seem safe.

I must say that I’m enjoying the on again, off again nature of my work this term. The format helps me to recharge my introvert batteries after a long day of teaching, for one thing. For another, even though I know I can write in small timeslots set aside during a busy day, I write best when I have at least two or three hours to pour into one project. Uninterrupted time allows me to better see how what I’m adding fits into the bigger picture.

The schedule also only works by making sure that teaching prep or, in a few weeks!, marking doesn’t eat up my research and writing time. I’ve found that the weekend is the best time to finalize my visuals and class plans for Western Civ (so that the files can be uploaded to our CMS in advance of Monday’s class) and to review the readings for the Tudor seminar which meets on Wednesday mornings. The grad students meet on Friday so I’ll go back through my discussion notes on Wednesday evening (after a veeery long day). Tuesday and Thursday? They’ll stay free. They have to or all of my fall writing plans fall apart.

So yes, I’m eating into my weekends in a big way this fall. It’s unsustainable to work full-out seven days a week all through the academic year, yet somehow so many of us do just that, right? But for a few short weeks I know that I can keep it going and reap the benefits of focused, productive time to research, write and edit on some days while devoting myself fully to teaching and campus contact duties on others.

I’ll see how the rotation holds up once I’m at the midterm point, just around the time I hie off to Potterfest. That’s when a boatload of marking lands on my desk and even with the able assistance of my GTA, I suspect I’ll have to give up a Tuesday here or a Thursday there but don’t let it get to be a habit. I’m fully booked up with writing, editing, revising and researching right through the first of November. After that, it all might fall apart but I’ll hope to sustain the schedule through the end of classes in early December.

What’s your term schedule looking like? Thumbs up or fingers in ears?

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3 Comments

Filed under academe, teaching, writing/editing

3 responses to “On Again, Off Again Scheduling

  1. Oh, fingers in ears for me. Classes every day of the week, lots of committees, and two tutorials, for which I’m being paid the princely sum of $11.25/hour (not credit hour – contact hour). I have three writing projects I want/need to work on, and zero energy for any of that. And a T&P post tenure review portfolio, which doesn’t fit nicely in any of the above categories.

    I miss the research time, which is also keeping me from doing the needed/wanted writing. If I had the energy, I’d do that on weekends that are otherwise spent resting up for the coming week.

    So glad you have such a great schedule!

    • J Liedl

      I’m pretty sure I’ll reach the fingers in the ear stage at some point after midterms! The tutorials you’re doing? Ugh – it’s nice they’re paying for them but that in no way compensates for the cost to the rest of your working hours.

      Will you have a chance at research time next term?

  2. I am on-campus much longer than I have actual commitments, MW, because of traffic: if I leave home earlier and work later, I don’t have to sit in crawling traffic. So M at 3(ish) I leave my office, where I am interruptible, and meet my real-life writing group for an hour (a couple more people have expressed interest, so this is going to switch to reading/discussing each other’s work, I think, but so far it’s been two of us having a writing date) and after that I go to the library or a local coffee shop to keep working on my laptop or a printout. On W there are several hours between morning classes and late afternoon office hours, so again I go off to the coffee shop for 2 or even 3 hours. It helps that at this point I don’t need to do a lot of reading to prep for classes. I need some discussion points, and some activities for the undergrads, but I think those up while driving. Grading is the big “prep” activity. So you’d think I’d be golden, but this doesn’t account for reading for committee work (which often gets distributed at the last minute) and activities associated with an editing gig. Then there’s the home life, where lately I spend a lot of time looking after the Tiny Cat, picking up slack on household tasks Sir John isn’t getting to because of his own work crunch, and cooking T/Th/weekends because of not managing it other nights. I have to leave the house with three meals in hand MW, two on F, or else spend a fortune on restaurants. The schedule works well pedagogically but I’m really having trouble making it work with my life.