Saturday, October 10, 2015

No time left for you, research

There's an episode of Frasier in which the character Roz Doyle (on right) comes to a Halloween party as O from The Story of O. At one point, someone asks her if she has a pencil or something.

"If you don't see it, I don't have it," she snaps.

That's where I am right now with time. When people ask me "could you do this?" or "did you send this?" or "where's that review?" or "did you finish that task?" or "when are we getting our papers back?" all I can say is, "if you don't see it, I don't have it/didn't send it."

October seems to be a kind of triage month in which you assess who's going to be the most inconvenienced or angry if you don't get the task completed for their sector of your endless to-do list. The result is a number of things that are about 90% done but can't be completed as you shift from one to the other to put out the most immediate fire.

One response of mine has been just to stockpile mildly complicated emails sent to me, some of them asking for favors.  If you care enough or it's important enough, you'll stop by the office. If not, well, maybe it'll resolve itself. Or maybe I just don't care.

The loser in all this is research.  There's a piece I've been working on, one I thought would be easy to turn around, that became more of a writing and editing project than I thought.  The thing is, writing takes thought. Thought takes time. Time is something there just isn't enough of right now.

It's still a great job, and my students were sweethearts about the papers being returned late.  But when it gets to the point where you wake up two hours after going to bed feeling that you have to get up and work some more, that's overtiredness, and it's unhealthy.

For now, I'll keep plugging away at the list and wave at the research materials from the corner where they're sulking--no, actually they're waiting patiently, and they'll be fine if I get more sleep.  


Bardiac said...

You've totally nailed it in your "triage" paragraph. I feel so overwhelmed right now. And the research piece suffers most, because 30 people aren't looking at me wondering if it's done, three days a week.

Notorious Ph.D. said...

I've been trying to do a bit of writing every day, even during the semester, so I can avoid that dreadful moment where I try to find my place where I put the research down four months previous. And by "a bit," sometimes I mean "two sentences." You may not have time for that, though.

undine said...

Bardiac--that's it. The people can't wait, but the research can, or that's what it feels like.

Notorious--I usually can do this, but last week was especially bad, and I had no time even to think about the two sentences. I'm trying to do a little proofing, though.

Mike Jones said...

Then again, there's the life-perspective that until age 40 you're just doing research.