Last time, I wrote about my difficulty in establishing time in my schedule for exercise and for research, and so I thought I should write an update (that may be helpful to others trying to work out how to construct daily schedules that help them to manage their busy lives effectively).
I decided that trying to go running in the early morning was just not going to work for me, and committed instead to walking for 30-40 minutes every day whenever I could fit it in. "Just an experiment!" I told myself. "Just see if I can do this for one week!" It's almost been a week -- and it is working! One day I almost gave it a miss -- I felt too pressed by too much to do. But once I realized that I really wanted to, I gave myself permission to go ahead and do it. And then I was really really glad that I did.
Just this much exercise has already done wonders to help stabilize my emotions and my energy flow, and to help me feel better about myself and in more control of my life. And it carves out at least a little genuine contemplative space in every day, which I very much value. It helps me to put everything (back) in perspective.
Then I was talking about this with someone, whose response was to say, "You are not a morning person." I tried to protest, but he pointed to the pattern (I tend to drift to a later schedule in the summer), and then said, "People who are not morning people will never succeed in establishing an early-morning exercise schedule (or at least won't be able to maintain it very long). You have to find another way to fit exercise in."
The definite way he said this took me by surprise, but then I realized he was right. The time I kept the running going the longest in my life was when I was a graduate student and was doing my running at around 4:00 in the afternoon.
I cannot carve out that time (or any time!) with perfect reliability in my life now. But I can generally count on finding some space between the end of the time I spend in the office, and my returning to my work at home in the evening. It is in that space that I have been doing my walks. I'm almost ready to start adding some running too again.
General Lesson to All: Be honest with yourself about whether you are a morning person or not. Don't try to schedule exercise time during a time you know does not really work for you. If you schedule it for a time and spend a whole week (or so) still managing not to do it, give up on that time and try a different time instead! But don't give up on the idea of exercise altogether -- we all need real exercise on a regular basis!
I have also picked up on research again. But the way I have done this is a bit devious. Student work is rolling in, and I need to be reading it and grading it and giving feedback. But, well, this is something I have a hard time with. So in procrastinating from this, I have been working on my research again!
Is this an accomplishment I should celebrate, or a failure I should chastise myself for?
I used to think that I didn't like grading because I didn't like playing the evaluative role we teachers are called upon to play in this way of structuring education. I tried to convince myself that I did like reading student work and giving feedback.
But this week I finally admitted that I was just fooling myself. Sometimes I like it. But usually it is just plain painful. Many students cannot write very well. And trying to get how they are thinking through the complex ideas they are studying is really hard work. To really do their work justice, I have to read their papers at least three times (once for grammar, once quickly to get an overview of the shape of their [attempted] argument, and then a third time to examine their thought-process more closely and write strategic comments that will help them move forward in their understanding and in the development of their reasoning abilities).
I do this with compassion. They are students. They are in the process of coming to terms with new ways of thinking. It's not going to be pretty. My job is to help them find their way forward to improved understanding and improved use of the power of their minds.
It is a noble undertaking.
But it is also hard and time-consuming work.
I state this as a simple fact: not to complain. It just is that way.
But back to the question at hand: I really do have to do this grading. I also want to keep momentum going on my research. Can I succeed in both?
Maybe after another week I will be able to report back, "Yes!" We shall see...
Right now I have some grading I really have to catch up on!
5 years ago