Thursday, April 03, 2008

Events and Excitements
As I said in the post below, I'm trying to do some research work today. In theory the whole day is blocked out in the diary but of course because I'm at work various people are popping in.. This week in theory should have been one with lots of time for reflection and scholarship but in practice it has been very busy with other stuff. I have helped with table plans for a big function we have next week, and with the processional order (sorting out civic precedence is challenging but probably not why I thought I was doing the PhD etc..) I've written to a local resident about parking problems, discussed plastic chairs with a local head and signed someone's passport photo. So what's my point ( apart from a quick bit of self-pity that I haven't been able to focus more on the impending conference paper)?

One thing is that the intellectual demands of a job do not link in a neat and tidy way to its seniority.. being in charge of the Bearpit is easily the most senior job I've had but I think that teaching sociolinguistics to some very demanding teachers on a diploma in year 1 of my HE teaching career was a lot more stretching intellectually. This job is demanding but it is more about making connections and facilitation of others, about being rather than doing at times.. I do enjoy it (most of the time) but also find myself pondering this paradox more and more often as the years go by.

The other thing that all this makes me reflect on is how far the advice of time management experts can ever help. I've been reading and enjoying this blog about Zen approaches to life for a while now and it has lots of good calming stuff about putting the big things first and not doing too many things at once. I have been trying to follow some of the advice but of course real life doesn't work that way. Helping our events team decide on tablecloth colours is hardly one of my big goals in life but if I don't prioritise it they can't get on.. and although I may have more 'important' things to do than check out the latest interesting French property site the Motorcyclist has found, if I don't go and look I am valuing my time over his in a way I can't be comfortable with.. much of the advice re Zen seems to me to take a self-focused, almost selfish approach to the rest of the world and whilst I am sure I too often allow myself to be distracted by the needs of others, I can't help thinking that is not entirely a bad thing.. what do you think?

More about the French project later. With pictures. Sorry the last few posts have not been illustrated!

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