Most people look at the beginning of a calendar year as a time to review where they’ve been in the last twelve months and what they want to do in the next twelve. This makes sense, of course. The first day of the first month of a new year seems so ripe for new beginnings.
For me, though, the new year always begins at the end of August. When a new school year begins, so do I. I have been living according to the August-to-August year for as long as I can remember. I started Kindergarten in August, 1983, and since then I have been governed by the school year. Thirteen years of primary education (counting Kindergarten), four years of college, seven years of graduate school, and three years of college teaching — this is year four. That’s a lot of years, now that I list it out like that. Twenty-seven years. Damn.
Well, to steer back in the direction of my point: I don’t begin the year anew in January, but now. Now is the time for me to think about goals, hopes, plans, plots, and schemes.
Here’s what I’ve been thinking about trying to accomplish this school year:
Stay Organized: Between my campus office, my home office, my teaching, and my research, things can get crazy. I always find myself wishing I had brought home a book or folder that I left at school, or frantically looking for my flash drive. I am attempting to solve this problem by syncing my work-related files with dropbox (AMAZING, simply amazing tool), keeping up with my schedule on iCal and my tasks with teuxdeux.com. My home office will be used mostly for research and writing; my campus office will be prep, teaching, and grading central.
Plan Ahead, Grade Ahead: Hopefully staying organized will help here. My goal is really to avoid last-minute class prep and weekends full of grading hundreds of essays. Do a little at a time until it’s done. SO much easier said, though.
Pack Lunch: My office mate and I are going in together on a mini fridge to use in the office, which will make this easy and convenient. Any lunch I pack, no matter how hasty, will be cheaper and better balanced nutritionally than anything I can find on campus. Period.
Maintain Weight: I am really happy with where I am right now weight-wise. My fitness goals are always growing and changing (with my marathon focus right now and maybe more triathlons in the spring), but I don’t need or want to lose any more pounds. My newest Sports & Wine post over at the Bodies site explains my plans for the food aspect of weight maintenance, should you want to read about it in any more detail.
Bike Commute: I am committing to get to campus by bike instead of by car on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Those are my non-teaching days, where I might go in to grade or prep and thus I’ll be dressed in more casual, bike-friendly clothes. I may also try biking in on Tuesdays and Thursdays if I am wearing trousers, but my road bike with horizontal top bar isn’t ideally suited to biking in skirts (which I wear frequently). I have biked to campus once last week and twice so far this week, and it has made a trip in to the office on my “off” day much more enjoyable!
Dress Nicely: I still run into the problem of looking a little too young for my job, so I’m trying to cultivate a more professional appearance on teaching days so I can feel more confident and authoritative. I think it’s also going to help me to project more professionalism around the halls in general. Plus, clothes shopping is so much more fun now that I can wear standard sizes and therefore can shop in any store (uh, any not-too-expensive store, anyway — I still do have that enviable teacher’s salary). I’m currently finding inspiration from a few academic fashion blogs. See here, here, and here.
Job Market: The academic job market runs concurrent with the school year, meaning that postings for tenure-track assistant-professorships will start appearing soon. I don’t want to talk about this too much because it is an AWFUL topic, but here are my thoughts: I am not going to waste a ton of time and energy throwing myself at any halfway appropriate job just because one “should” go for the tenure-track openings. If something truly great appears on the job list, I will attack it with purpose. Expect not many updates on this one, ’cause, like I said, AWFUL topic.
Open Windows: I am going to try to be open minded about relationships and new people. Not just romantic relationships, but new friendships and social opportunities, too. Even though the guy and I split up, I still believe everything I said in this post. Just because that relationship didn’t work out doesn’t mean I have to be like Clooney in Up in the Air, and shit, you know?
What about you guys? Though your lives may not be Ruled by School like mine is, do you have any goals or plans cookin’ right now?