Triage Time

Now that it’s well into November, we only have about a month to go in the semester. This is the time of semester when our students are looking a little ragged. They seem sleep-deprived and more of them are coughing, sneezing and blowing their noses. The work load is getting pretty intense.

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Similar things are happening to us. We are feeling exhausted. Our to-do lists are burgeoning to more than we feel we can bare. Our homesĀ are neglected. We’ve resorted to quick meals or even take out. The laundry piles up. (Oh, wait. Maybe that’s just my life.) We are grading piles of student work, writing yet more assignments to hand out, preparing for classes….and that’s just one aspect of our jobs. Our research seems to slow way down. Committee work intensifies. I hate November.

It’s Triage Time. How do we get through these intense weeks and still make it holiday shopping? (Thank goodness for the internet! But, even that takes hours of time.)

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I get through it with TONS of lists. I mean lists and lists and lists. Some lists I make just to be able to cross things off- a stress management/coping technique I have. Items and activities have to be prioritized and also broken down into manageable chunks.

What I resort to is creating a “weekend work” list on Thursday. I list out all the course prep, grading, assignment creating and reading for each course I am teaching. Then, I break the tasks down into about one hour or two hour sub-tasks. I then distribute these among Friday evening, Saturday, Saturday evening, Sunday and Sunday evening. I figure out, if I have some grading to do, when I have to give the graded work back to the class. Then, if my list looks overwhelming for a single weekend, I give myself a grading extension. So, for example, if I planned to give the graded work back one week from when the students handed it in, I give myself a one or two class period extension. That way, the assignment gets returned in the same week I had intended, but I give myself a little breather.

Then, I divide things up. I try to spend 1-2 hours each evening session. Then, depending on how many other things I have to jam into the weekend, I try to put in 4-5 hours during each day session. But, I often break the daytime work sessions into smaller segments and take “study breaks” for things like grocery shopping, taking the kids to their various activities.

You know, as I write this, I cannot believe this is actually what I do in November! Does anyone out there have a better way of managing time so that you don’t spend basically the entire weekend working? And, of course, don’t even get me started on the within-week and daily lists!

Well, in true triage-mode, I’m just going to send this out there. You’re probably too busy to read this, anyway! Maybe I’ll catch up some this week and be able to post something better next week.