On Thursday nights, when I collapse on my couch in utter exhaustion and wait for Gray’s Anatomy to come on, I often have this very sleepy thought: this is the moment at which work on Monday is the furthest away that it’s going to be all week. And it’s wonderful and celebratory (right before I drop into a teaching/grading/meeting induced coma).
And then Friday dawns, and I look at my list of things to do. It’s usually a bizarre array of specific tasks within larger categories. For example:
- take care of self category (tasks include “go to gym” and “get groceries”)
- maintain abode/conveyance category (e.g., “get oil change” and “put down storm windows,” “regrout tub,” call electrician”—this is the scary category)
- research/bring brain back to life category (“finish Fandom book,” “write abstract for collection”—these usually include a number exclamation marks and capital letters)
- prepare for/maintain classes category (“read papers,” “answer emails,” “meet with American Studies instructors,” “read Gibson, Whitehead, and secondary materials,” “order books for spring”—some of these acquire exclamation points as the weeks go on)
And of course, the unspoken category is have some fun and relax a bit so that you don’t turn into a pinched, cranky harpy. [A phase that I usually save til December.] But on Friday morning, I generally lose the ability to prioritize. What to do first? What can wait? If I go to the gym first, will I be too tired to write the abstract? If I call the electrician, will he come and thus prevent me from going to the grocery store and reading for class? Why can’t the Spectrum ever schedule a 7 o’clock movie?
In the worst case scenario (and it’s happened more than once), I find myself puttering from thing to thing, or worse, debating the order of operations endlessly until suddenly it’s Sunday evening and I haven’t left the house in two days, and my list is untouched. In moments like these, I often fall back upon advice my father used to give me: do something, even if it’s wrong. It’s not sound advice, and I wouldn’t pass it on to anyone else, but on Fridays like these, it’s the thing that gets me up and out the door.