Thursday, June 26, 2014


If you want to do work, and you have work to do, you cannot allow yourself the luxury or curse of putting energy into energy-sinks. These may involve committees, campaigns, cabals, conspiracies, or just plain acting out and going ballistic, or being obsessed about something wrong in the world. At least I cannot. Moreover, my ability to focus deeply is limited: after an hour or an hour and a half, I need to nap a bit, and then I can continue. By "focus deeply," I mean the ability to be hypervigilant in your writing or editing, not let things slide by, and figure out what you meant when you wrote something a while ago.

You may be very different than I am, and can work in a more chaotic environment, and switch to something else and back again. Wonderful!

But I observe that too many scholars get diverted. I am not talking about being a good family member and friend, and attending to others you care about. Some of the time, illness or crisis will take over--maybe for longer than you would like. But eventually, it would seem, things settle down, and you can carve out a few hours each day to do your work. If so, you are OK--as long as everything else does not make you so tired that you cannot focus on your work.

There are lots of things that do not need to be done or attended to. There are times when you will become stupid or silent, so you are not drawn into shenanigans. There are demands you may have to decline or defer. But if your role in a university is to do your scholarly work, you must do your scholarly work. If you have become a chair of a department, then you will have to take care of that, and you may be delayed or blindsided for 2-3 years. But then you must go back to your work, allowing yourself time to slip back in.

No comments: