Sometimes it takes hearing the same thing a few different ways for something to sink in for me. Here are the three passes of the same message that’s leading me to think about my calendar and planning a little differently:
Though my sources here are variable, there’s a message to be found about the importance of down and off time to thinking and creative work.
Moreover, instituting this kind of practice can be done with the simple tool of a calendar. Too often, I find myself booking conference travel back to back with teaching, often running to or from the airport from my campus.
I love conferences. I love talking to smart people in my field. I love browsing the book exhibit. I fill notebooks with ideas for future classes, writing projects, collaborations.
But because of the way I schedule, much of that gets lost the minute I board my return flight and start planning the classes that have to be taught as soon as we’re wheels down. Or, at best, I get in on a Sunday and manage to throw in a load of wash before crashing to sleep.
But what if I (we) scheduled a little differently? What about building in time to reflect on what we’ve learned, to journal about future ideas, to send those follow up emails? It might be tricky. Maybe it would be better to leave the conference a day early in order to do some meaningful thinking about the experience. Maybe it means planning a really easy teaching day (an in-class video, a peer review set up well ahead of time, a guest lecture) for the return so at the very least the plane ride can still be spent in reflection rather than ramping up to the next thing.
Since we’re in the summer months, this seems a good time to stake out this precious territory in our calendars. There’s a lot that might be gained by clearing time to do “nothing.”
Get a Life, PhD
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