On Sabbatical

I’m impressed with how many of my colleagues, near and far, are also on sabbatical this fall. Several times in the past couple of weeks, I’ve learned that I have companions in the solitary tasks of research and writing, and that feels good. It also presents uncommon opportunities, and I’m taking advantage–both here at home and online–to make various research and writing projects social, which helps me with productivity and is easier to maintain during sabbatical than it is during a regular teaching semester.

Many of these sabbatical colleagues seem to be thinking of their time to focus on research and writing as starting now, with the beginning of the academic year. In contrast, I’ve been trying since about April to think about my sabbatical as beginning in May or June. In fact, there were moments–joyful moments–throughout the spring semester when I could mark my impending absence from the classroom in the fall. When my department was planning the course schedule for this year, when students were registering for fall courses, when the bookstore called for book orders. And of course there were ways in which the academic year extended into May and June. Commencement never happens until the weekend before Memorial Day, and this year a search bled into June. I’m very pleased with the success of that search, by the way, and the promise it holds for the future of the college.

So now, as my colleagues not on sabbatical are gearing up for fall classes, I can take this moment to look back on the first three months of my sabbatical, which are almost complete. And I can say with some pride that I have begun to establish a pattern of research and writing that I hope to continue to make into habits that I will be able to maintain when I return to the classroom in the spring. I have been using an iPhone/iPad app, Daily Deeds, to fix habits for both scholarship and housekeeping. And Hiveminder has become my app of choice for managing my long and ever-growing to-do lists.

Putting all of these together, I hope that during this sabbatical I will be able to imprint some new patterns for writing and other work, thus making my process of living as an academic both more productive and more fulfilling once the sabbatical is over.

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