Coming up for air

Do catch up on sleep, too

It’s that strange, twinkling time in the academic year; that point when your acquaintances ask: “so now the students have gone, I guess you’re on your holidays too, right?”

I appreciate this will vary for colleagues in other countries, but here in the UK it’s a 12-month year and the summer is the time to ‘do all the stuff we didn’t do in the semesters.’

In several ways, this is almost an unilluminating as the queries about how you fill your summer, since everyone I know in academia is busy doing all kinds of things all the time.

Given that our workloads all all as unique as we are [sic], rather than try to generalise too much, I just want to share my reflections on how I’m passing the time until the end of September, when we get our academic year going again.

In particular, I’m aware that this summer is one that I have specific plans for. The past couple of years have been busy, even by my standards (thanks, Brexit!) and it’s really brought home the opportunity costs that come with doing loads of fun-but-highly-temporally-specific things.

At the core of my plan is to finish stuff.

This might seem odd, since usually people are talking about getting going with that funding bid or book proposal. But in my case, there’s loads I’ve already begun, but just left hanging.

That includes some draft papers in states ranging from a pile of data, to a version that got knocked back by a journal, with several in-between. July is going to be devoted to getting as many as possible of these out the door.

Added to that will be the prep for the round of September conferences (which conveniently and not-coincidentally marry up to the papers I’ll be working on), since my annual leave runs right up to those.

I’ve also got a research project to get up and running, so that will be a key piece of work too.

And as we leave teaching behind, I’m trying to refresh what I can of my materials now, before it disappears from my mind: lessons learnt also get unlearnt and the experience of finding oneself days before the start of semester, trying to recall the key points from many months before, is not one to repeat too often. In this, I find that reading back through this blog is a useful exercise.

And that’s about it.

I probably will feel guilty about not doing more at some point, but I also know that I’ll feel even more guilty about not having done it because I’ve taken too much on. Better to under-promise than to over-promise, especially since this is when things tend to be a bit quieter: there has to be some time to recharge and refresh oneself in all this.

So, go and have a balanced and measured summer: you’ll feel better for it.

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