The next two columns fall on holidays depending on your definition of that word. A week from today is Mother’s Day, which certainly counts, but Thursday is Cinco de Mayo, which is on the borderline.
Today is the first day of May, and while that is not a holiday, every new month feels like a fresh opportunity. This one especially does for me because this week wrapped up my last full time teaching semester for at least the short-term future.
For the past academic year, since last August when the Concurrent first started releasing print editions, I have been teaching a full-time courseload plus a one class overload at my undergraduate alma mater the University of Tampa. This alone has required about 35 hours of work per week not including the commute to the school.
In addition to this, last Fall I moved out of the house we had been in for five years. This spring, I began managing three campaigns to go along with the teaching load.
I have never been able to fully give the Concurrent the attention I’ve felt it would need to grow at a rapid pace although growth has been slow yet steady.
That changes now.
It won’t be explosive growth, but the month of May marks a fundamental shift in my approach to work: everything in moderation.
This goes counter to both my professional training and how most people approach their careers as well. Academia is highly specialized. The goal is to pick a research topic and continue to publish hundreds of peer-reviewed articles and a couple of books on that one thing.
So too do people build identities around descriptors, and while many people will use a few, everyone generally has a favorite. This could be anything from attorney to Gator fan to mother of twins. People want to be known for something.
For the past two years, this identity for me has been a college professor because that is how long I have been a full-time faculty member at UT. It’s time to expand that out to something bigger.
Broadening the scope, my identity is evolving into what would better be described as educator. I find joy in taking things that I know and attempting (although not always succeeding) in communicating those to others. This has been done through coaching rowing, through teaching classes and lastly through writing these columns.
Until now, one or more of those three has always been sacrificed at the expense of another. Moderation solves this problem.
My students are always amazed, or maybe a little more dumbfounded, at my analytic approach to life. A week’s time is 168 hours, which splits evenly into thirds at 56 hours a piece. I have found that I require 54 hours of sleep per week to function joyfully, a little less than 8 hours per night including time it takes to fall asleep, so that leaves 57 hours to each of the other two thirds. This is the time budget for work and free time.
Previously, teaching had averaged roughly 35 hours per week and campaigns required another 20 leaving just two hours per week to work on the Concurrent, which is about what is needed to write each column and podcast.
My new approach moves away from looking at a week’s accomplishments in terms of hours spent on a task, however, and moves more into achieving minimum quotas of involvement in the activities that make me, well, me.
Two days a week will still be spent teaching. Two days a week will be coaching rowing. A new addition is that I will attend four events per week. These will be campaign events, local lectures or even university functions such as sports games or art exhibits. One upcoming event that I’m particularly excited about is the Nature Coast Lecture Series: Mermaids & Manatees. The rest of the time will be spent creating and growing the things I’m passionate about such as the Concurrent.
The goal of the Concurrent has never been to be a news outlet, but rather to be a publication that challenges its readers to think. How do you spend your time? Do you have a system to maximize what you get out of each week?
A new month is a wonderful time to reevaluate your own approach or implement a brand new strategy. This might be the only day this week without a real holiday, but it’s certainly a day worth celebrating nonetheless.