Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Summer "To-Do" List

Today's Ms. Mentor column in the Chronicle of Higher Education has a great description of the summer life of academics, and some good advice:

Question: "Lucky you, you get the summers off," my nonacademic friends often say, not really joking. I don't tell them how much I worry about time and money, and I don't admit that every summer I think I'm a total fraud. Do I need time management? Image management? New friends?

Answer: Too many academics are riddled with guilt, Ms. Mentor knows. Most of you have been fueled by it all your lives.

You've gotten a lot of good mileage out of it: high grades, teachers' praise, honors, fellowships, and awards. But still the backup singers in your head keep chanting, "More, more, more" and "Work, work, work." They never take a day off. By Labor Day, if you don't stop them, they'll have a full-fledged opera.

Academics start the summer with a fresh slate, the way the rest of the world starts a new year: gasping with exhaustion, but brimming with nervous energy and wildly ambitious plans. You'll learn Old Norse or study genetics. You'll clean up all those moldering books and papers. You'll alphabetize and synthesize and categorize.

Of course you have a mental To-Do list. Maybe it's on your computer, and maybe it's posted on your fridge. But it's also in your heart, where it starts thumping with anxiety almost immediately: "You'll never get it done. You'll never get it done."

And so Ms. Mentor's first suggestion is to shorten your summer To-Do list. Make time for children, parents, cats, close friends, and partners -- but make sure summertime can be your festival of the intellect. List only those tasks that you're sure to accomplish. Otherwise you're apt to wind up napping a lot, writhing, frothing, and wallowing in guilt....

Read the whole column here.


Danny Gamache said...

Thanks for the post David. Darla has helped me to be more relaxed in the summer. The interesting thing is, that I actually get more done. The last two internship trips that I've been along for (this summer and last) I've accomplished more than I would have at the office. This last month I completed two articles which I am submitting for possible presentation at a conference.

On another note we've been going through your travelogue recently. Tomorrow we are taking the students to Ephesus, and hopefully I'll get to go to Priene this time! :)

d. miller said...

Thanks for the comment, Danny. I hope your Ephesus trip goes well. Hey, iff you have time for a day in Priene, it would be fun to hike up Mt. Mykale!

d. miller said...

Or you could go to Miletus too. How's that for a to-do list?

ErinOrtlund said...

Eric, are you reading this? ;)

Edith said...

Oh I so need trying to do my summer "to-do" list done and organized. I can already see the summer flying past me.