One of the best things about working at DePaul is the December break: final exams for the Fall quarter end during the last weeks of November and the first classes for Winter quarter don’t begin until very early January. Given that December is a whirlwind of holiday activities, the break is timed nicely. Of course, as I’ve written (many times) before, December always feels like it’s going to be longer than it actually is. After two decades, I’ve finally gotten to be better about judging how much work I can reasonably get done between the Fall and Winter quarters. I’m not having to do the kind of triage I usually do on my December to-do list this year.
But there’s one thing that I’m still working on conquering during the December break and that’s the awful feeling I get when I don’t make progress on the things I’ve identified I should do. Many (many) times in December I feel horrible about not making as much progress as I should on my tasks, and my mind goes into overdrive about how terrible life will be if I don’t finish the paper/prepare the new class/finish the review/get that service work done. Part of that feeling is based in rational reasoning since time away from teaching is precious and needs to be used effectively. And many of the things I want to do often take more time than I expect (class preparation and paper writing I’m especially looking at you). But the awful feeling pretty consistently ruins at least part of December, and I don’t like that. So I’m actively working this month on trying to be calm about what I’m doing. I’m specifically focusing on enjoying the time spent on the tasks and shutting down the critical part of my brain that tells me I’m not doing enough. Because December is a precious month and spending even part of it feeling awful is no fun.