I fell off the wagon a bit there at the end of the last semester…
I had one big post about Blogging for Productivity at the end of February, and then the end of semester crunch hit. With a few lasts gasps (hey there, Henrietta and hey look! Snow!) I slowly gave up on some of my internally enforced deadlines (case in point—my blog).
SciNatura is really important to me. However, at this point in SciNatura’s existence, I am accountable to no one but myself to post new material. I don’t pretended to have a following eagerly awaiting my next post. I’m still building and defining my blog. With only internally enforced deadlines for blog posts, when everything else on my plate started becoming more and more time consuming, with more and more pressing deadlines, SciNatura got kicked down the road…
It’s almost poetic how one of my last posts was about that very topic, how internal and external deadlines affect what gets prioritized and what gets pushed off. I should say I completely did this on purpose, to illustrate my point! See! See how easy it is to let some priorities override others? See how easy it is for certain things to get pushed aside, and pushed aside, until they are all but forgotten?
For most of April I kept telling myself, ‘you need to write a blog post’, ‘you need to write a blog post!’ But I had this final to work on and that final to grade and my research proposal to finish… Those things all had firm due dates and deadlines. Writing blog posts didn’t. And with enough putting off and putting off, those nagging self-reminders to “write a blog post!” slowly faded away. Eventually, I got to the point where I purposefully gave up on trying to fit in a blog post and just shucked it off until the semester was over.
Which leads me to the main point of this blog post. The joys of the academic calendar! It’s true, the crazy, stressful rush that invariably occurs at the end of every semester isn’t exactly the most pleasant times of the year (although I will admit, it is kind of exhilarating to be that busy and productive! I’m just always glad it’s short lived!). But then something amazing happens. Twice a year there is a lovely, abrupt change. One semester ends, and another begins.
It’s not that the new semester is necessarily less busy, there is just a clean and defined ending, and a new, defined beginning. Just that sense of new beginning can be so refreshing, so clarifying. A time to breathe, reassess, plan, and begin anew.
I’ve also noticed that, especially with the change from spring to summer semesters, there comes the cessation of a lot of external deadlines. The grading responsibilities I had with teaching this spring are over, my own course work is over, a lot of my committee meetings and whatnot are on hold until the fall semester. My calendar is much more my own. That doesn’t mean that I don’t still have a lot of things to do, and a long list of deadlines still. But those deadlines are more internal now. I need to read those papers that have piled up on my desk, draft the next stage of that manuscript, resume a regular blog schedule. All important to the forward progress of my dissertation and development as a scientist, but largely all internally enforced.
Of course, the ultimate goal would be to find a balance between those internal and external deadlines. To manage the flows of research, teaching, course work, and meetings such that nothing falls through the cracks or gets kicked down the road. I’m getting better at that every semester. But until (if?) I can master that particular skill, I am grateful for the academic calendar, which provides clearly defined and regular end points. Reset buttons.
The semester is over.
Go get ’em!