Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Year of No

Oof. The first week back always feels a bit like being punched in the stomach. While assembling track as the train is coming around the bend. With my hands tied behind my back.

Much of this feeling is, of course, due to the fact that I hadn't quite finished my syllabi by the time the first day of classes rolled around. Add to that the necessary copying (which got lost), class websites to build, frantic phone calls from students, a department meeting, and a orientation activity for incoming first year students, and it's one hot mess. Is it any wonder why I want to focus on fashion?

All of this has only reaffirmed my commitment to this being the Year of No. I'm certainly plagued by the "yes, I can do that! yes, I'd be happy to take on more service! Sure, I'd love nothing better than to attend more committee meetings! I'll do anything that contributes to student learning!" disease that many of us succumb to (you know who you are!!). But here in year five of my full-time teaching career, I've become conscious that this has two effects:
1) That I'm doing a sub-standard job at everything, because I don't have time or energy to devote to all the different tasks that I've taken on.
2) Even the things that I committed to because I believe in them I end up hating and resenting, because I'm exhausted and stressed.

I don't want to be this person, and I don't want to be this kind of professor. Please note the order in which these two come. I would desperately like to make it through this career without become a warped, angry, bitter person. And since my personality already tends in that direction (I have deep sympathies with Statler and Waldorf, my favorite childhood Muppet characters), I need to nip any external inducements to crankiness in the bud.

So, my answer to all of this? I hereby call for the Year of No. Which means, my first response? No. Can you attend a committee meeting the week before classes start? No. That committee that I chaired last year needs to get a speaker for this coming fall? No. And in fact, I'm removing myself from that committee, thank you very much. Do you want fries with that? No, dammit, it's the transfats! My tally thus far:
  • Four students doing internships that want to meet with me this first week. No. Here's email instructions for what you need to do. Let me know if you have questions.
  • Colleague wants a tenure letter. I'm already doing two, and they're due in a month. So, no. (I do have a bit of a bad conscience about this.)
  • Meet to discuss making a flyer for a conference. No. Let's pass it around via email.

It's not much of a tally, but it's a start. And don't I feel like a hard-ass? Go me! Let's see if the Year of No has any effect on the quality of my life, and my productivity, here in the last year before tenure, shall we?



Blogger Beth said...

I want to celebrate The Year of the NO, too! Go for it and be my role model.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007 10:28:00 AM  
Blogger Ashley said...

I'm pro NO. I'm not sure my tenure file is, though. Sigh.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007 10:53:00 AM  
Blogger Lee said...

Here's to NO! Go No! Go No!

A small but effective strategy I implemented last year was to let my membership on standing committees expire and not join any new ones. So many ad hoc committees pop up during the year that I join those that I have an interest in and I actually contribute, rather than suffer through wasting my time in a room with a bunch of people who are playing "mine's bigger than yours."

Can we meet and talk about this? ha!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007 11:15:00 AM  
Blogger Sisyphus said...

Ooh I like The Year of No. (you can't actually do the Year of No if you're going on the job market but I will watch with excitement from the sidelines.)

But not fashion. Say Yes to the year of fashion and keep us posted on it.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007 11:05:00 PM  

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