Thursday, October 27, 2011

Getting It All Done

As we're heading into the busy, stressful portion of the semester, I thought I would write a post to remind myself of a few of my core time management principles that I seem to have temporarily forgotten. I'm feeling overwhelmed with all I have to do right now: prepare the talk on artistic integrity that I'm giving tomorrow (!) in Milwaukee, prepare the talk on truth and children's literature that I'm giving Monday (!) for the week-long Arts Fest extravaganza here at DePauw, do final revisions on my Rosamond du Jardin paper that was just accepted (hooray!) by the Children's Literature Association Quarterly, do a ton of planning for my winter session course on children's book writing, for my spring course on feminism and the family, for my spring reading group on the work of philosopher Cheshire Calhoun, for a spring event on the ethics of life writing. How can I possibly get it all done?

The first thing to remember is that I CAN'T get it all done. Trying to "get it all done" is the best way to ensure that I don't get any of it done. Facing a massive and endless to-do list is paralyzing, not empowering. What I need to figure out is how to get SOME of it done, preferably the things that need to be done sooner rather than later.

So my goal today (well, for what's left of today) is simply to focus on that paper I'm giving tomorrow at Marquette. I've located a previous draft of the paper that I had lying around, plus a bunch of very very helpful comments from various people that I saved from when I last gave the talk a year or two ago. I need to remind myself that the worst-case scenario, not even such a terrible scenario, is that I just give the talk the way it is. That IS a possible option. Having accepted that as an option, I can move forward knowing that anything I decide to do to the talk between now and tomorrow is likely to be at least a partial improvement.


I'm going to finish writing this blog post, then I'm going to go get a late lunch at the Blue Door Cafe while I read through my notes and make my revision plan. Then I'm going to go out to my peaceful serene office at the Prindle Institute and spend at least an hour making what changes I can. I may find some leftover wine from last night's reading group to assist in this process. And then I'll just give the talk tomorrow and hope for the best, comforting myself with the thought that my argument may be weak, my conclusion may be false, but at least the paper isn't boring. It really isn't.

On the plane tomorrow I'll start reading the two books I need to skim-read to do my final revisions on that children's literature paper. I don't need to worry about my truth and children's literature talk until Monday. Heck, the talk isn't until 4:15 on Monday, so I'll have all day to work on it, fortified by French toast and hot chocolate at the Blue Door.

The long-term planning can wait until Tuesday. Or maybe even Wednesday.

I don't have to get it ALL done today. Just some of it. And now I'm off to do it.

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