Having looked at my schedule, I discovered that except for Tuesdays, I seem to have my mornings off. This is a drastic shift from what I’m used to. Normally, I have some class or other obligation in the morning, some more later in the afternoon or evening, and pockets of free time in between. Last semester, I used that free time to get a lot of my work done on campus, setting a sort of 9-to-5 schedule for myself. This allowed my evenings free to do what I want (which ended up being taiko, juggling, and mostly crashing in front of the tv).
This semester, we canceled our cable. Most of the shows we were watching were things we had already seen, and with Netflix, we didn’t really need or want to sit through commercials anymore. (And I have other ways of getting the TV I want to watch, if I really want to.) So hopefully, there will be less crashing in front of the tv, mindlessly watching the same old drivel.
What this really means, though, is that I finally have to force myself to be self-motivated. I’ve been saying that I’m self-motivated for a while, but it’s not entirely true. I am more motivated by deadlines and people thinking ill of me.
The plan of attack is this: force myself to get up every morning at 7am, and be working on something by 9am. I cleared off my desk (as you can see above) and rearranged it. Originally my desk featured only the computer, and it was cluttered with knick-knacks and school supplies I never used. It wasn’t exactly a good working environment. I find I work better when I have a space dedicated to working. Last semester, it was my office. This semester, it’s my desk.
One of the best advantages is that I can work on some of my mindless computer projects while also working on school work. For example, I’ve been going through and resorting and retagging my music collection. Since it’s a pile I accumulated over the years, it’s a mess. This means finding missing tracks, downloading the ones that are broken and missing, checking the tags, finding album art, and most of all, listening to make sure I like them. (I do that because I really don’t like keeping things in my library I don’t listen to. Mainly because I tend to put the whole thing on shuffle when I’m bored.) This doesn’t require a lot of attention. I can also look things up if I need to, or quickly take a break to check email. All things that are difficult at my desk in my office.
The only question I haven’t answered yet is how much work I want to take home. I’m taking my general exams this semester, so obviously there will be studying for those. I have my modular forms class that I should keep up with and recopy notes for. I have my reading/research course that I’m doing with my advisor to help find a good dissertation topic. These are all obvious things that I can spend a few hours each day doing at my desk. But what about lesson plans? Do I really want to lug home the spirals so I can do the lesson plans at home, or should I leave and do them in the few hours between obligations on Tuesdays? I will always plan to bring my grading home. I’ve planned it to be light and easy, something I can do while watching TV.
Do you have specific spaces that you designate for work? What makes a good workspace or a bad workspace? How much work do you take home with you, and how do you decide that?