Hello there! As of this writing, I have officially finished my first term as a visiting assistant professor at Carleton College, and our unusually long winter break is essentially the whole month of December. I’m tired and looking forward to a bit of a rest, but I also don’t want to waste the opportunity to catch up on some projects and get a head start on next term.
I know that visualizing big ambitious goals, then figuring out a plan to make them happen, is not an effective strategy for me. What I’ve found much more effective at encouraging long-term progress is to commit to a system that keeps me moving in the right direction every day. If it’s something I care about, and if I know a small daily action will add up to significant change over time, then I’m happy to make a contract with myself to keep at it.
So here is what I’m committing to do each day of break, not counting weekends and when we have visitors:
Every day, I will spend at least one hour:
- Planning my classes for next term. After the winter quarter ends, I won’t have a lot of time before the spring quarter starts, so if I want there to be time to plan my spring classes I need to start buffering now.
- Writing articles for publication. I have several papers in my pipeline, at various stages of readiness, but they have all been on hold for the last couple of months as I’ve been adjusting to my new institution. Winter break seems like the perfect time to eat some metaphorical Activia and get things moving again.
- Doing research. I’ve been snatching some time for research here and there, and I have some ideas for incorporating more research and writing time into my normal weekly schedule, but in the meantime I’m looking forward to a steady source of research hours.
- Writing for fun. This can be any kind of writing I feel like doing, such as:
- Writing in my journal
- Writing fiction
- Writing blog posts, either here or at Examples First
In addition, every day I will spend at least a little time:
- Reading for fun
- Playing the piano
- Taking notes on books or articles
- Initiating contact with a long-distance friend or family member
- Working on the Christmas shopping
Every. Day. These are things I don’t want to drop off my mental radar, even if I don’t already have specific long- or short-term goals for them.
This sounds like a lot to pack into each day, and I expect it will be difficult to manage, but I know that I feel the happiest about my days when I’ve spent them on a variety of activities. Wish me luck!