On Feeling Behind

Today is Wednesday, and I finally skimmed through Sunday's newspaper and clipped a few coupons.  These days, my criteria for coupon-clipping is relatively straightforward.  I ask myself, "Which coupons would I rather forget about, accidentally let expire in my little accordion pouch, and throw away six weeks from now?  Duracel batteries?  Definitely.  Dishwasher detergent?  That sounds entirely forgettable, too.  Let's do this."

Choose your metaphor: When you have too many spinning plates, or balls in the air, or irons in the fire, we're prone to forget some things, or, at the least, to fall behind on a few.

In addition to coupon-clipping, this afternoon I spent nearly an hour sorting mail, answering email, filling out permission forms, and completing paperwork for my daughters' school fundraisers.  I RSVP'd to the four baby and bridal showers that I've been invited to and marked them on my calendar.  (People within my social circle have conspired to simultaneously experience significant life events, apparently.)  I finally mailed a thank you note.  I made a grocery list.  The hour was productive -- these matters needed to be attended to, after all -- yet I felt like I was squandering my time.

Why?  Because on Monday I collected essays, and a pile of 40 sat in the other room, 32 of which are still ungraded.  I know this off-hand because I track my progress.

Yes, I make a schedule with daily goals, complete with a +/- column that indicates how far above or below I've come toward reaching that goal each day.  This system mimics how I play Yahtzee when I'm angling to reach 63 points in the upper section, just without the dice.  (And the fun.)

I've realized two things about this.  Keeping disciplined is a good thing.  Beating myself up that I've scored a "negative two" on essay-grading, however, is not.

So here's where I stand: although I still feel behind, I refuse to let this ruin my otherwise good day.  I feared that I was wasting time by attending to small tasks, but completing those tasks actually brought a semblance of order to my home.  As for carving out twenty minutes to write this blog post?  On the surface it seems frivolous, but over the years I've discovered that adding time for creative expression often helps me, especially on days that already seem excessively full.

The essays will get graded.  They always do.

This post simply is my way of reminding myself of that today.

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  1. Seeing what's on the "other side of the curtain" is actually really interesting for me. In my situation as a student, failure to complete an assignment reflects poorly on only myself, and my grade suffers. I see now that in your circumstance, failure to finish grading student work is not an option, and that has to add a lot of pressure... I'm impressed at how easily teachers like you handle it!

    1. I've been on both sides, Jack, and the pressures on students are certainly equally as valid! (This is why we have semester breaks. Friendly ceasefires.) ;)


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