Can’t Stop That Day

Every semester for the last two and a half years, I’ve arranged things such that my scheduled commitments for the week all fall between Monday and Wednesday. The good news in this is that generally speaking, by Wednesday at 5.00 pm, I’m free to operate by weekend guidelines (that is, appointment-free: working with the door closed, if in the office; working at home, if I feel like it; working in the most comfortable clothes possible, in any case). It would be hard to call the Thursday-to-Sunday stretch a “long weekend,” given that I usually take no more than one day of it “off,” and that one’s only spent not-working in order to take care of all the details of my non-work life that are utterly neglected six of seven days out of the week. Nonetheless, the absence of scheduled commitments during those four days creates a feeling of freedom that, if illusory, is nonetheless damned nice.*

That’s the up side. The down side is that Monday, not to put too fine a point on it, sucks. The intensity of the Monday-to-Wednesday stretch is such that I’m left feeling pretty battered by Wednesday at 5.00 pm, and it all begins with Monday. I get whatever work done in the morning I can manage, zip to the gym if there’s an hour to spare, run to the noon department meeting, rush off to teach my two afternoon classes, and conclude with a just shy of two-hour long committee meeting. After which I usually end up in the office, cleaning up details and answering neglected email, until nearly 8.00 pm. The result is that I wake up every Monday morning absolutely dreading what’s ahead.

I’m not sure that the alternative — spreading the commitments out over five days — would be any better. But I have fantasies of this leisured professorial life I keep hearing about, and wish somebody could help me figure out how to get it.

*Not to mention that it’s the only tenable way I’ve found to maintain a long-distance relationship. But that’s another story.

3 thoughts on “Can’t Stop That Day

  1. No matter what my schedule has been over the last five or ten years, Monday morning has never been any fun. At least Arrested Development is on tonight.

  2. Ah, you’re screwed. You’ve got a fatal combination of two factors working against you: you’re competent, and you care. Because you always get things done, people will continue to ask you to do things…because they know that you’ll get them done. You’re a victim of your own past success. Combine this with the fact that you actually care about students, the department(s) in which you teach, your colleagues, the discipline (continue this in ever-expanding outward concentric circles), and you’ve got the perfect recipe for Mondays from hell. Academe is one of those rare occupations in which you often don’t have something that you have to be doing, but you always have something you could/should be doing.

  3. >>I’m not sure that the alternative–spreading the commitments out over five days–would be any better.<<

    It isn’t. You just increase the probability that on any given day the work allotted to that day will get sidelined or supplanted by something else that randomly comes up. You’ve got all of your deadlines nicely worked out, work nicely portioned out through the week, with the goal of leaving the workspace stress-free on Friday at 4:59 and returning to a clean inbox and a workable day on Monday?

    And then some predictably unpredictable thing throws, say, Wednesday out of whack, loading up Thursday, which gets just a BIT stickier than you thought it would. Suddenly, Friday is a tottering pile of must-dos, and nobody is around after about 4 to respond to things, so even though you get done what you have to, it’s not really certain WHAT Monday will look like and before you know it you’re getting used to checking email on Sunday night to make sure you’re not too far behind on Monday…

    So, it’s bad on Monday’s anyway, and your self-organized time is reduced to two days.

    OR — I’m an even more poorly organized person than most. Come to think of it, that’s probably what it is. Disregard everything I just wrote…

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