Saturday, March 28, 2009

Productivity v. Procrastination

Anticipating a really busy month to come, over the last couple of weeks, I've tried a new approach to my work life. My goal was to be able to enjoy most of my Spring Break working on my own stuff (writing), with no course/museum-related chores of ANY kind. In all my years at this place, I’ve been stuck catching up on course-related work when any sort of holiday rolled around. This is partly because I’ve basically got two fulltime jobs rolled into one, and one of them is JUST endless (the museum side). Endless, endless, endless. I cannot wait to have the neatly bounded (which is NOT to say easy—just neatly bounded) kind of job most of my colleagues have: x-amount of committee/service work, x-number of courses, x-number of hours in the classroom, x-number of students to deal with in office hours, and x-number of projects/exams to grade. This actually leaves a considerable amount of time for writing something besides museum label/didactic copy. (Admittedly, all scholarly writing time is still taken out of our ‘personal/family-time’ but anyone who goes into academics knows this good and well. This is what drives us into this line of work--we LIKE to write about what we research.) But, museum work/writing is ALSO taken out of our family-time/budget, and on many levels it is entirely thankless work which no one (minus a few folks who have actually curated a show) really has a CLUE what goes into. I am done with it—or VERY nearly so—a couple more years, at the absolute most. So, that exhausting tripartite split of teaching /scholarship/service? BRING. IT. ON.

Anyway—following a very predictable week-long bout of post-exhibit-opening sickness (adrenalin keeps me going through deadlines, but hell-to-pay is always waiting at the other end), I just decided to keep on working right through the weekends so I could not only catch-up on course-related stuff that fell behind during exhibit installation, but also get ahead of the game for SPRING BREAK week. So here’s the rundown (what I can remember of it, anyway) of what I’ve managed to plow through in the last 10 days or so.
  • Cleaned and otherwise prepped my house for this.
  • Attended (as a kind scholarly/luxury gift-of-time to myself) a very good art history symposium that provided both inspiration and a good physical venue for sketching out (on the symposium program) an outline of the presentation I am slated to present in San Diego this coming Thursday. Yes. I agreed to be present a paper during Spring Break. Only for MGC, and because it is San Diego. And because I didn’t realize it was Spring Break when I agreed to be part of this panel.
  • Completed afore-mentioned PPT, both visuals AND notes—at least a WEEK ahead of time. I am a new believer in outlines.
  • Intro course
    · gave some really efficient and organized “catching-up” lectures
    · made study guide for midterm #2 (to be given after spring break)
  • New prep:
    · created and handed out a grading rubric for midterm (I also refused to give them a study guide. Yes. I. Did. This is college AND your major—come to class, read the ethnographies and articles, pay attention in class).
    · finished reading ethnography #3 (I’ll use it again—it was good).
    · wrote the midterm (12 identifications, 10 MC/TF question, two essays), and photocopied and collated it myself.
    · gave midterm on Tuesday.
    · began grading 33 said mid-terms immediately afterwards and worked all the way though Wednesday evening.
    · handed midterm back the very next class-meeting. Did NOT curve it. It is 25% of the grade. Some people are in trouble, while others are in like Flynn as long as they continue to do well on the reading quizzes (6 more) and simply take the final.
  • Exhibit grant monies: I have to use up some $$ left over from a grant for last fall’s exhibit (I was given *o*fficial permission to reroute the remainder to another show). However, I need to spend it out before the end of the year, so I had about 200 postcards printed for the campus-wide reception that is coming up in April and then on Monday, selected about 8 images I plan to use in an exhibit going up no sooner than Fall 2010 (maybe a student-based Spring 2010 installation…but no opening till Fall) and sent those off for printing, professional dry-mounting & lamination. And I think I’ve still got about $150.00 more to use up (I can get that spent, too…).
  • Talked to my chair about the pending budgetary crisis and volunteered to can the museum-portion of my assignment to help out with Fall FTES production. (I was so excited about ‘giving up’ this reassigned time I practically skipped around campus for the rest of the day). Yes…please load me up with 60,000 more students. Make my day.
  • Apropos to the above, I applied for admission to a late May workshop that will enhance my techo-teaching savvy, maybe. (Let’s be clear here, I’m never teaching online—I’ve heard everyone, even former boosters of this mode of delivery—say that it is MUCH more work. So I’m not going there. Maybe a hybrid course one day in the distant future.)
  • Started contacting dinky little museums/archival repositories about summer research (I was awarded a pathetic little grant that will nonetheless fund some archival research up and around the ancestral territory of the individual whose life and times I write about). I could have used this grant opportunity for the conference I have in late April—but that is far easier to write off and I’d already gotten a travel grant for March’s conference. This will be a fun jaunt around some beautiful mountainous territory.
  • Plowed through about 10 lecturer WPAFs, held a committee meeting this past Thursday to evaluate/discuss said files, divvied up the letter writing, and immediately wrote my three (this after 3 hours of teaching and sneezing my brains out), before coming home to sign the 60,000 pages of refi papers for our mortgage (TH gets all the credit for this footwork—nice rate of 4.62%).
  • Started on my paper for late April conference—most of the PPT slides are done. I aim to finish this up before the San Diego trip so I can spend the rest of the semester on nothing more than teaching or doing final edits on a manuscript related to last summer’s DC trip. It should have been out the door this past fall.
  • Discovered that a video clip I want to embed into that PPT, will not play (visual component) on VISTA OS. Spent HOURS trying to “fix” this, was eventually convinced by CD that I should send it to the campus techno-geeks who are paid to help me out with this. (Or I will simply take my work laptop to the conference--since it runs on XP and plays the clip quite nicely.)
  • Meanwhile, I’ve still managed some more personal stuff—had an 1.75 hour conversation with my mom on Wednesday, tried out several new recipes, made it to the gym on a more regular basis, and am more or less surviving THE worst allergy season I can remember. Onwards and upwards.

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