Why I’m Not Sprinting This Week

“What are you doing over spring break?” I’ve been telling people (and myself) that I would be conducting an #AFSprint writing challenge this week over our spring break to finish a third article on the first Design Thinking Studio in Social Innovation pilot. It took a long time for me to really process the emotional and intellectual experience of last spring, and I should* be writing about it since the program is so new and innovative. So I’ve been trying to decide what to work on for several weeks – should* I work on an article about student identity and goals setting that is about half finished (but similar to another article I just submitted), or maybe one on emotions in the Studio service-learning experience (which got sparked when I was working on the identity article), or maybe one on retrospectives as student reflection (why not? they were interesting). But, then, after I made an unexpected breakthrough in my thinking about a disciplinary angle on the Studio while prepping for my CCCC conference presentation last week, I should* definitely work on that article before I forget, right?

I should definitely work on that article over Spring Break, right?

I’d also been hoping to recruit others to sprint with me so I could test out plans for #AFSprint to be a signature service, Scrum-based writing accountability groups, that I could offer through the Agile Faculty consulting business I hope to grow. To do that effectively, I should* have developed some handouts, recruited some people who are already interested in Agile Faculty to participate, and set up a conference call to help those folks set up their backlogs for the week.

As I typed the two paragraphs above, I started coughing. An asthma cough in my throat. I do have asthma that usually only acts up if I get a cold, but as my husband has repeatedly told me over the last couple of years, that cough isn’t asthma. It’s a tell. It’s anxiety.

That cough isn’t asthma. It’s a tell. It’s anxiety.

Why am I anxious? Just look at all of those “shoulds” in the first two paragraphs. I should be sprinting. I should be writing about the first Studio pilot. I should be working on the disciplinary article, especially since it’s attached to a grant. I should be creating documents and working on AF as a business since the book just came out. I’m wasting time, data, opportunity if I’m not writing or working on AF.

I’ve been putting off for weeks deciding what to do, feeling guilty that I was prepping for two conferences instead of working on the #AFSprint materials, that I was working on two more conference abstracts for AF workshops for faculty developers, that I haven’t responded to some of the second cohort’s student reflections and plans. Coughing when I think about it all.

So I’m not sprinting this week. I’m writing this from my favorite cafe (which is about 45 minutes away from campus) where I just finished my favorite croissant breakfast sandwich. I saw A Wrinkle in Time yesterday – one of my favorite books of all time. I got a pedicure. I’ve scheduled a massage and a haircut (I’ve been so stressed I haven’t been to the stylist in 14 months). I’m going riding at least twice, even though I’m so out of practice, I feel disappointed in myself for putting work above everything. I’ll have lunch with friends I haven’t seen for a year on Friday. Yes, I’ll work. I can catch up on those reflections and student plans, write that conference proposal, tease out the idea for the disciplinary article, work on posters and marketing materials for the new PWR major starting in the fall. But I’ll do them in my own time this week, in the mornings, before I relax and refresh in the afternoons.

No one ever teaches you when is “enough” in academia – enough writing, enough research, enough service, enough time available to students. When will I know I’ve done enough work to be promoted to full professor? Do I even want the extra work associated with being full? Why am I churning out conference and book proposals – do I really care about the subjects, or do I think it’s expected of me now that I’ve published one book? When will I be good enough? This is a topic I’ll definitely come back to here on the blog. Agile Faculty is about vitality as much as it is about productivity. In fact, vitality is more important.

Agile Faculty is about vitality as much as it is about productivity.

This week I’ll work on being honest with myself about what I can do and what is too much. I’ll revisit my plans for the year and make some hard decisions about what is enough. Hopefully I won’t cough the entire week.

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