This is my last post in this column for the 2012 calendar year and in the 2012 fall quarter/semester, depending on the system your university uses. I cannot be more thrilled. 2012 has been a topsy-turvy year, though perhaps not as topsy-turvy as last year’s Occupy swept the nation. Still, once the final grades are in and the administrative offices close their doors until 2013, the book can finally be closed on 2012. Take a breath. You did it!
I don’t know how things are where you are, but the period from December 23 until January 1 is the only time the entire year where I can almost guarantee no intradepartmental emails. Everyone, from the highest dean to the lowliest student takes a break – the one, true, department-wide break in the entire year. It is something to savor. So today, no pedagogy, no grant chasing, no paper-writing talk. Instead, let’s take a moment to enjoy this rare email and strict obligation lull to celebrate. So here are five ways to get the most out of the break.
- Take a draft of a manuscript that’s been making you nuts, or a copy of the paper that scooped you, or a syllabus for a class that sucked up all your energy. Rip it into small pieces and throw it over your head like confetti while thrilling music like BeyoncÃ©’s “Single Ladies” or Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture boom in the background.
- This one is hard for me to follow, but boy-oh-boy it feels so good when I do it: do not check your email for an entire 24-hour period. Maybe more if you can stand it! Doesn’t it feel good to not be assailed by requests for your time and energy? Isn’t it nice not to schedule meeting after meeting? Isn’t it great to have no schedule or no deadline other than your own for a little bit? I mean, academia is a really cushy place to be, what with the flexible hours and self-motivated research, but without email, it’s just that much cushier.
- If possible, do that thing you daydream about doing when you’re stuck working on endless manuscripts/when you’re sick of your research/when you are grading 100 essays over one weekend. For example, I plan on reading a fiction book in my underpants while drinking a beer and eating a donut. It is the Homer Simpson method of relaxation – plus a book.
- If you’re anything like me, you get antsy if you’re not working. A long weekend is glorious – two weeks is starting to get rough. So, if you’re like me, creating a list of catch-up tasks and working on them just a few hours a day, under no strict deadline or timeline, is awesome. I have done some great CV work, email catch-up, and annual report filing while on break. I just find that relaxation feels even better when it’s offset with a little work. Opposites magnify each other, like eating a donut while drinking black coffee.
- Think back on everything you’ve done this year. I bet it is a pretty impressive list. Appreciate yourself and the hard work you did. Now get ready: 2013 is almost here and it is hungry.