Well, now that vacation is over (and it was AWESOME! I love the mountains so much), I've been thinking about how to be more productive when school is in session. Recently, several bloggers have been blogging about how to make the academic work day as productive as possible. Dr. Crazy has been analyzing how to ensure that service work doesn't squeeze out her research. And during our winter writing group, Dame Eleanor brought up time management strategies that involve carving out dedicated research time. In the comments to that post, Sitzfleisch used the phrase "mindful inflexiblity," a notion that Dame Eleanor explored further in a follow- up post.
My first reaction to "mindful inflexibility" was that it couldn't work for me. Every time I try to set aside time to research or write, a meeting gets scheduled or the kids get sick or whatever. And for the past two years, I've held a reassignment position on campus which requires a lot of meetings and which requires me to be (somewhat) at the beck and call of other people. I teach every morning and have meetings almost every afternoon. So whenever I start to think or hope that I might have a couple of hours at the end of the day to do my work, I am thwarted.
But this semester, I'm auditing a class from 12-1:15 on Tuesdays and Thursdays. It's a philosophy class taught by one of my colleagues, and I think it will help me better understand the philosophical issues I'm dealing with in my dissertation. I was thinking about my concerns that other duties would interfere with that class, and I realized that there are very few meetings between 12-1. And then I started thinking about how, typically, meetings don't really get going until 2:00 or 2:30. And then I realized that I might be able to sneak in an hour of reading/writing after the class if I go straight to a back corner of the library. And this would be an especially great time to write since my mind will already be on the dissertation as I sit in the class.
So my plan is to set aside time for my dissertation work between 12-2:30 on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I'm sure the transition back to meetings and service work will be unpleasant, but maybe it will seem less so since I'll know I made time for my own research and writing before hand.
It's worth a try.