Because "NOT Doing" is Harder than "Doing"

We've reached the inevitable point in the semester where something always needs to be graded, from here on out, forever and ever and ever, amen.  (Or at least until I submit final grades, which feels like a terribly distant goal, even though it'll actually come to pass in slightly under four weeks.)

Yes, it's crunch time.  Each day I cross off items from my to-do list, but then immediately add others onto the same list, like some law of conservation where tasks are neither created not destroyed, just shifted into another form.  I can't entirely discern if I'm riding this wave of work or getting rolled by it.  I only know to keep swimming.

(Periodically, I even mutter to myself, Dory-style, "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming." My forgetfulness is also heightened, but I think the similarities end there.)

The other day I tapped into a practice that I used to do, circa 1996-2000 during my undergraduate years.  I headed to the library (not my office, not my desk at home, not my kitchen table), found an empty cubicle, and set up camp where I told myself, "Self, you will not leave this cubicle until these three tasks are finished."


And it worked.  One by one, I finished grading a series of technical presentations.  One by one, I read a week's worth of student blog entries.  One by one, I responded to emails.  For four hours there were no distractions, no interruptions, no outside demands from students dropping by or my own children vying for my attention.  Nobody knew where I was, in fact. 

There was only quiet.  It was simply me in my isolated cubicle, swimming along in a current of anonymous productivity.

It's not that working for four hours is all that impressive or unique; it's having four entirely uninterrupted hours.  (Perhaps that's sad commentary on our fragmented days where too much clamors for attention, even nonessential drivel, all the time.) 

It also made me realize that doing the work is rarely as hard as having it hang over my head. 

If it takes a cubicle to make this happen, then bring on the cubicle.


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