Saturday, July 2, 2011


I am home from my merry week of wandering, which climaxed in a most inspirational conference of the PLATO Institute (Philosophy Learning and Teaching Organization), devoted to sharing philosophy with pre-college-age children and youth. The PLATO program, held at Columbia University Teachers College, ran for two days of lively and helpful talks and discussions. They even put up the out-of-town speakers at an elegant, quiet boutique hotel on West 77th Street, On the Avenue, which boasted the world's most comfortable beds. And I loved getting to spend two nights in a city I love so much.

But now I'm home. And I have to do all the pesky little tasks that mounted up while I was away, as well as face the fact that there is MUCH I have to do before I depart to my new life in Indiana in - gulp - six weeks! And I am paralyzed with inertia. I don't want to do any of these tasks. I forced myself to make a master to-do list, with 81 items on it, and the smallest items on the list still feel overwhelming to me. And of course the longer I go without doing any of the items on the list, the more overwhelmed I feel.

What to do? One option would be to give myself a couple of days off, say to myself, look at all you've accomplished already this summer! And you've just come back from a tiring, though wonderful, trip. What's wrong with relaxing for a weekend? But then I hate to think of how terrible the to-do list is going to appear to me when I return from a weekend of enforced sloth.

So I think I'm going to try a different strategy. If the smallest item on the list feels overwhelming, come up with items that are still smaller. If "write this one thank you note that I need to write" feels too overwhelming, then try: "go to the cupboard where you keep your stationery and pick out a card" and "address the envelope." I know once I do those two things, then "actually write something on the card" will seem more doable. If "grade this one paper from a summer independent study" feels too overwhelming, then try: "print out the paper" and "give it a preliminary skim-read." At that point, I'll probably decide just to write up a few comments, give it a grade, and move on.

Okay. I have a plan. I will locate one card and address one envelope. I can do this!


  1. LOL. Well, I'll give you an excuse and permission.
    1.Remember that Monday is a National Holiday and it's mandatory for all learned workaholics to sit in the sun and fry-in-oil until you are either a nice delicious brown or a fiesty red skinned mama.
    2. Cut all non-essential items off the list and do what's left. (ten or less)
    Have a great 4th. :)

  2. and if you were grading my paper I'd ask you to skim it, submit the grade, THEN I, the student, would wait forever and forever-- because I knew you were busy--if, by waiting, I could catch every comment you'd throw, and then I'd say thanks. That was extra nice. :)
    (guess you're glad I'm not the student)

  3. 3. but. Newton's second law would say that regardless of how weary you are, the law of momentum would keep you accelerating as you rolled down the hill finishing the now short list.
    the end.