Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Ready? Set?

In the last few weeks, my 2-year old has been learning how much fun it is to count up before doing, well, anything. 1, 2, 3, Throw a snowball! Ready, set, go down the slide! "Count!," she'll exclaim, when I want her to put on her jacket or jump into bed. "Say 1, 2, 3!" On occasion, she'll forget that she's only supposed to go to the number three, and the numbers will reach into the teens before she stops and realizes she's counted higher.

Today I'm finding myself wishing the numbers would keep counting up.

Instead, I'm feeling a little bit like I've skipped ahead.

Whither art thou, 2013? Have we really already finished the fall semester? Is the holiday season truly over? Wait, I'm not holidaying in Jasper anymore? Am I really about to start teaching my first ever university course?

When I have moments like these, I'm reminded how important it is to stop, pause, and let myself set for the semester. Often, it only takes a brief mental break: a full stop, a minute to let myself breathe, the space to count up and lose track before letting go. At other times it's a complete accounting, a careful tally of goals and responsibilities and the budgeting of time to forget about both.

This time of year is particularly amenable to the latter. As we start the New Year, we're encouraged to stop and reflect, to pause, to set, to take account of the life we've lived in the past year and consider how we might do things differently in a new season.

So, without further ado, here is how I'm setting myself up for what I hope will be a productive and successful semester:

1. Writing Group: I've set aside two days a week to write, and I meet up with people to do it. We usually do pomodoros, or writing for set lengths of time, usually 25-45 minutes, which we intersperse with short breaks. Doing this twice a week has been a boon for my productivity in the past, and I'm hoping it will continue to be this semester as I teach for the first time.

2. Teaching Prep only on Teaching Days: I've been lucky to get a two-day a week afternoon teaching schedule, and I'm taking advantage of it. Though I realize I'll have weeks where this is impossible, I'm trying very hard to keep the majority of my teaching prep to these days.

3. Family Time: I check out from academic work daily from the hours of 5-8pm to spend time with my family, and on the weekends during my daughter's waking hours. My partner and I try to plan fun, family-oriented things to do with her, and also use the time to get things done around the house.

How are you setting up for the semester?

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