Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Less is more

When asked about my new-year's resolutions, I was taken by surprise, and answered with a cliche: "I want to work less." Later I started thinking about it. Did I really want to work less? Underneath the reply resonated the response and addition supplied from a colleague - "and live more." I think that is what I really want to do.

I love my work. No, I don't love every minute of it. I hate the way stress short-circuits my short-term memory, leaving me stranded in front of the door to the room with printers, office supplies and mail, wondering what I am doing there. At times of high pressure I carry little notes to myself when I embark on trips outside the office: "printer, copy prints, drop off". Then when I have been diverted by the colleague in the office between here and the printer, the three students looking for another colleague in the hallway between the printer and the copying machine, the statements I have to sign when I get close to the mailbox and the dean who was on his way out for a coffee - I can look at the note and check where it all started and go back to start the whole dance over again.

Point is: when I do less of that, less aimless wandering with a sticky note glued to my fingers, I can do a lot more. I can do the part I live for. I can learn, I can connect the dots of scholarship through research, I can write the connections out and I can share what I learned with students and colleagues. I reduce the stress factor and increase efficiency.

I think I agree with myself and my colleague, I want to work less and live more.

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