January 6, 2009

New semester resolutions

My spouse fervently hopes that Barack Obama keeps "that new president smell" for the entire year (her words, not mine), and given the deep recession we're in, I agree. (I hear that if your representative or senator is starting to smell moldy, you can buy "new politician" air fresheners at the Capitol Hill Visitors Center.) The same is often true with semesters; faculty hope that we begin and end the semester with enthusiasm and energy, even if a semester doesn't have a smell, a slogan, a logo, or a festive inauguration.

Well, some places try to inaugurate new school years or semesters, but that's often aimed at students, not faculty, and in times of fiscal constraints, opulent events without fiscal restraint will often be seen by faculty and staff as tone-deaf. Maybe cutting that $1,000 spread wouldn't save the jobs we fear will be cut, but couldn't you be a little more frugal when we're not talking about essentials?

The spring semester is also right after the New Year, so here's a New Year's resolution, or maybe a New Semester resolution: at least 2-3 times a week, I will start my workday offline to get at least one significant task done. This might be reading a journal manuscript, or an article/book, or planning something. I hear it's best to read your e-mail once or twice a day and that's it, and the best way to accomplish that goal (for me) is to stay away from machines that receive e-mail. (I've discovered awayfind.com, which allows correspondents to notify you when there's a truly urgent issue.) Over the break, this worked fairly well: I took my reading glasses, a notepad, and something to read out of the house or office and worked for 2-3 hours. 

And, speaking of which, I'll be heading off to find a comfortable chair until about noon...

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Tags: academic budgets, work habits
Posted in The academic life on January 6, 2009 8:32 AM |