Monday, January 30, 2012

The New Semester Begins

Today is the first day of the new semester at DePauw. I came to my Prindle Institute office at 6:15 this morning to try to get my life completely organized in preparation for the new semester and to make my time management plan.

Last semester I worked out a plan that had many appealing features but didn't work out completely as hoped. I taught my Rousseau class on Tuesday and Thursday from 10-11:30 and committed myself to office hours on those days from 1-4 in my cozy office in Asbury Hall. That office has no computer, so I had no temptations to distract me from the task I had set myself for those afternoons, of seriously making my way through the many brilliant scholarly books about Rousseau that I had bought once upon a time and never read. I managed to read three of them and even take good notes on them so that I'll have them at hand for when I teach Rousseau again in the future.

I spent Monday, Wednesday, and Friday out at my office at the Prindle. There I gave myself latitude to pursue a wide range of non-teaching-related tasks, from scholarly writing to organizing and participating in reading groups and Prindle-related events. The thing that didn't work out there was that I spent too much time just reading for the reading groups. There they were, all those huge, fat, appealing books lined up on my Prindle bookshelf: American Grace: How Religion Unites and Divides Us, Tangled Webs: How False Statements Are Undermining America from Martha Stewart to Bernie Madoff, Bound by Recognition by political theorist Patchen Markell, and more. I love to read. But prime work hours should not be spent reading.

So this semester I am going to spend Tuesday and Thursday once again on campus, preparing for and teaching my course on Feminism and the Family, which meets from 12:40-2:10. I am going to try to get all my course-related work, including grading, done on those days. I will still spend MWF out at the Prindle. But this time I am not allowing myself to do any reading on those days before 4 p.m. Instead I will WRITE: a paper for a collection on philosophy for children, my paper on Beverly Cleary for the conference in China, my paper on artistic integrity for the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics. Children's book writing I'll do early in the morning, either in my sweet little house or at the Blue Door Cafe.

I am planning to be astonished by my productivity. Watch out, world!