Wednesday, July 20, 2011

"don't let the mornings get you down .."

in the last two semesters of teaching, i developed the morning routine of working for 1-2 hours at home before heading to the university to teach.
at the time i became paranoid of the office.

not only would students show up unannounced, at random times of the day [1], but so would colleagues .. and sometimes just for small talk.

i like my colleagues .. but if i truly wanted to accomplish something,
then it was important to protect the territory of my work time.

for a while, it worked. i'd generally curse my luck as the lecture times were approaching, but i was able to stay productive.
as for now, though, the dynamic is different. i think it's because of the content of my work. in the mornings, i generally think about open problems (read: obsessions).

it was fine to do this months ago, since preparing and delivering a lecture has the benefit of taking your full attention for the allotted time. so if i started feeling depressed about not making any progress, then by the end of the workday i'd have forgotten.

however, this doesn't work the same way when you're not teaching:
lately i've been productive in the mornings, but by afternoon i'm beset by the persistent frustration of failure.

yes- nobody else knows how to solve these problems either,
but honestly, i don't care: i still want to solve them.

so despite having other work goals in the afternoon -- writing, for instance -- this malaise is hard to shake. i lose focus and do very little.

so i suppose it's time to change my routine .. \-:

[1] .. which is fine, in the strict sense. instead of asking for make-up quizzes or leniency in grading, usually these students came to ask questions about lecture or homework problems. the problem became a matter of scale: word spread that i would take questions outside of the scheduled times, so more and more students started showing up.

it was easier for me to avoid the office, rather than shooing them away .. which probably reveals something about my personality.

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