February 07, 2005

Finding time

When I plan out my semester, I always imagine that I am going to have big chunks of time to devote to my writing. Then at about the third or fourth week of the semester, it occurs to me that I forgot to factor several million annoying tasks in to the equation when I came up with my grand plan for the semester. This week I have been reminded suddenly of one of those tasks: writing letters of recommendation.

I have 16 letters to write tomorrow. Every time I check my e-mail, I get another request from a student. I like these students, I want to help them out, but I hate writing these letters. I resent the time it will take. I also have papers to grade, course stuff to read, classes to prepare for, an administrative report to write, a course proposal to be drafted, e-mails to answer .... and suddenly, the couple of hours of free time I have tomorrow are not nearly long enough to do what needs to be done.


dr. m(mmm) aka The Notorious P.H.D. said...

Lost writing time is part of my weekly routine, too.

As for the recs, perhaps you can have an upfront two-week minimum turnaround policy, and then you can set aside a "recommendation morning" once every ten days or so. But, don't trust me for my organizational acuity--I just glanced down at my to-do list, which is written under a draft of a short message, which is written under a sign-in sheet for some student activity. Though I cannot decipher everything written in my own hand, I can see that I failed to do four things that need to be done by tomorrow morning, including reading and grading for one of my classes. I think I will try to pull a marathon day tomorrow to try to catch up.

lucyrain said...

A colleague and I set up writing schedules for ourselves at the beginning of the semester. It seemed that I would be able to do two two-hour blocks on MWF, given my teaching schedule. Turns out, I regularly have a full schedule on MWF trying to complete all kinds of bullshit required of me by other people. It's amazing how much work I do for others in order to advance their own careers, while my own lies in the balance that I am incapable of achieving.

Dr. H said...

I have a rec that is hanging over my head. Grrrr... Like you said, don't mind helping out these good students, but they're not easy to write. I don't know that being someone's teacher gives me enough evidence to recommend them for much -- that's part of my problem.

I also relate to the grand plan getting destroyed.