09 May 2017

Time Away

Sometimes, no matter how much you want to do something, it's important to put it aside for a while and focus on other things that are more pressing, more immediate.  At the end of semesters, for example, it's important for me to focus on my classes and my students, because we're coming to the end of our time together and I need to make sure that we accomplish all that we need to get done and that the grades are fair and accurate. Something like this blog, which I really enjoy doing but which isn't nearly as pressing as my classes, must get put on a back burner while I focus on the things that are truly pressing.

Life does that to us, and it's up to us to make the decisions that will allow us to do something really well rather than spreading ourselves too thin to do any one particular thing extremely well. We like to claim that we're "good at multitasking," though, and that we're able to juggle a lot of things at once and do them all successfully. I know from experience, though, that when I do that, the quality of all the things suffers--I may like to think that I've done everything just as well as I normally would, but I know that's not the case at all. In order to be able to do other things, I've cut corners on something else. In order to spend the time necessary to write blog entries, I would spend less time on class preparation, grading, or meeting with students. It's just the way life is--we have a limited amount of time available to us, and we need to make decisions that allow us to use it well.

There are certain jobs, of course, that don't necessarily have to be done extremely well. Painting a wall in a storage room usually doesn't require the time or care that the wall in the living room demands. But I know that my students take priority over other things, partly because teaching students is how I make my living and partly because students who have taken my class have trusted me to teach them what they need to know in their futures.

It does feel good to get back to things like this when semesters end, but it's important that when the time comes to decide on my priorities, I choose the things that are the most important for more people, and that I be able to put aside for a time those things that are not nearly as pressing, and that can afford to be left alone for a while. After all, the choices we make determine our success or failure in whatever we do, and I want to try to do my best in the areas that need my time and energy more than others.

But of course, I am glad to be able to return!

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