So I’m sitting in the Cultural Studies graduate lounge trying to figure out what to write about today, when my friend Karl plunks himself down in a nearby chair. “How was your week?” I ask, happy to see him after a week off. He smiles, pauses, and then says exactly what seems to be on everyone’s mind today: “I wish I had a second one.”
I’d love to report that the mood here on campus on the first day after reading week is one of blissful relaxation. I wish I could tell you that my classmates were feeling focused and energized and ready to take on the last six weeks of classes after a well-deserved break, but that’s not exactly the case.
For the most part, everyone I have talked with so far today has expressed regret at not being able to accomplish MORE over the last seven days. In fact, I’d go so far as to offer that the mood I’m sensing today is one of low-level panic as we all come to terms with the number of things that need to be accomplished before the academic year draws to a close.
I’m definitely not immune: I’m giving a seminar presentation in class this week, and I’ve got a paper to write, not to mention a whack of reading to do. I’ve also got to prepare for the two classes I teach this week as part of my T.A duties. Yep- bring on the panic.
That’s why I’m repeating the same thing here, in writing, that I’m going to be trying to tell myself all week: panic is not the best option. All panic does, for me at least, is cause me to freeze and procrastinate — meaning that I ultimately get even LESS done. Nope, the way to tackle this week is through dedicated schedule-making, being sure to work in enough time for exercise, friends and lots of healthy food.
I’ve made up a list of things I want to accomplish today — it’s not a traditional to-do list (they, you will recall, are way too oppressive), but I do find that knowing what MUST get done in a day is a good way for me to block out my schedule. Rather than writing down ‘READING!!!!!’ for example, I’m trying to be clear with myself about what it is, specifically, that needs to get read, and then I’m being clear about how much time I’m allowing myself to get it done (say, 45 minutes). Otherwise (and we all know this from experience) it can take hours to get a single essay read.
I’m with Karl: I could use an extra week too, but since that isn’t going to happen, I’m just going to try and buckle down for the last push. If you feel so inclined, drop me a line with you coping strategies. We can totally work through this together.