Y’all. I found myself really needing to make some progress on a writing project. In order to do so, I needed to clear both my head and my schedule.
Like a ton of you, I never took any real down time during the summer. I kept saying I was going to, but put it off for one reason and another, and by the time I tried to schedule it I couldn’t. And it wasn’t just a no-break summer; it was a systems-are-breaking-all-around-you summer. Here’s your duct tape and your baling wire; spend hours on Zoom with your colleagues and see if you can keep it all running. All of which meant that, as a colleague of mine said a couple of weeks ago, I felt at the beginning of October like I usually do in April: exhausted, short-tempered, and desperately in need of a break.
And yet: October! Projects! With deadlines! And semester in progress! And then there’s this writing project, which is the second-easiest thing to put off (down time apparently being the first).
Except that the project has some time pressure behind it. I mean, it doesn’t exactly have an expiration date, but the sooner it comes together the better, for a whole lot of reasons. 1
So I made a commitment a couple of weeks ago to deliver a proposal for the project… in a couple of weeks. And then I looked at my calendar and figured out that with a little effort I could totally unplug for a four-day weekend and focus in on getting it done. I warned my colleagues week before last that I’d be completely out of pocket, and then reminded them last week. On Wednesday at 4pm, I put out of office bounces on my email accounts, and set my Slack/Teams statuses to away, and turned off every notification I could. And I settled in for the staycation equivalent of a writing retreat.
By Friday afternoon the proposal was done and ready to send. By Sunday morning I had a schedule for posting drafts of the chapters here to get input into how things should expand and develop as I work. And in the midst of all that, I read a book I’ve been asked to review, sketched out my initial thoughts about what I want to say about it, read half of another book for fun, cooked for the week, and rearranged a part of my kitchen that’s been annoying me.
And I slept over eight hours every night. And I’m actually excited about getting back into the swing of things tomorrow. If this is what unplugging can do, I clearly need to make a regular practice of it.