One thing I hate about grading papers is that it's sedentary work. And sedentary pursuits don't ever do much for my mood. Stacking firewood, mowing the lawn, shovelling snow, gardening, or working on trails are chores that force me outside and put me in a happier mood. Sitting at a desk indoors grading papers makes me feel like a slug. Really, I think I was meant to be a farmer and not an academic.
So with this last batch of essays I had to grade, I tricked myself. I left my computer downstairs, and I carried the essays up to my daughter's bedroom. Her small room is the only neat, clean room in the house, the one place where I won't be tempted to do housework. So I sat on her bed under black-and-white posters of Paris, looked across at the books lined up neatly on her white bookshelf, glanced at the fall foliage outside her windows, and graded essays.
Normally, I take a break after each essay to check my email, surf blogs, or get a snack. Yes, I take a break after EACH essay. Pathetic but true. But because I was upstairs, every single time I wanted to take a break, I found myself going down the stairs – checking my email, grabbing a snack – and then running back up the stairs. By the time I was done grading all sixty essays, I had run up and down the stairs sixty times.
No, it didn't make the grading any faster, but it did make me feel less like a slug.