My get to do list

As the semester closes in on me, I’m overwhelmed by the amount of things that have to get done in about the next three weeks.  I’m sure anyone in academia is feeling the exact same way right now.  As I’m finishing final projects for my own classes, studying for final exams, finishing up homework assignments, grading students’ work and preparing for the final exam grading rush, I’m overwhelmed.  In the middle of this sea of work, I’ve also been hit with a load of manuscript revisions that all seemed to flow back to me at about the same time.  Crazy how that happens.  So in an effort to manage the heavy workload that we are all experiencing, I decided that I need to reframe my thinking.  If my field (experimental psychology) has taught me anything, it’s the way you cognitively frame things in your mind makes a difference.  And I’m determined to be positively affected by my work.

Enter the “get to do” list.

That’s right.  I transformed the traditional “to do” list into a “get to do” list.  I know that it sounds ridiculous and oh so cheesy (and it is), but it’s effective.

I cannot take credit for this idea, myself, however.  I blame my students.  Recently in class we have been talking about the importance of education and the issue that poverty poses in blocking people from reaching their full potential, especially through a lack of education.  And so, I have heralded a new form of approaching one’s education in my classroom!  We now approach education not as some dismal feat of work that must be completed and conquered but rather as a joyous adventure that is to be enjoyed and loved.

As are many things in teaching, I end up convincing myself of something I may not have fully thought about or realized before until I’m preaching about it.  It’s crazy how this works.  You find yourself at the front of the classroom, preaching to your students, until you realize: “Wait, that is true.  Why have I never fully lived this way before?”  I blame (rather thank) my students for playing the crucial roles they play in changing and shaping me as a scholar.

And so today is day one for me of checking things off of my get to do list.  I get to read and enjoy my students’ papers and blogs, I get to be a part of writing up and publishing research in my field, I get to present my research to my colleagues and propose new ideas for research.  The list goes on and on.  But I have to admit, as a person addicted to checking things off of my list, this new approach changes the whole game.  Instead of seeing each bullet as a task to conquer and finish as quickly as possible, I am beginning to see each bullet as an opportunity to savor and enjoy.  I hope, in the end, it makes me better at what I do.  For it is with great passion and hunger that the greatest products are born.  So what’s on your get to do list?



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About Megan Johnson Shen

I am a social psychologist graduating with my Ph.D. from Baylor University this May and moving to NYC this summer to start a new job as a postdoctoral researcher at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in the Cancer Prevention and Control Department. I love the brain, human behavior, and anything to do with understanding them better. I love research and a good dinner party. Fine wine and cheese - I'm there. Interesting experimental data? I'll probably show for that too. View all posts by Megan Johnson Shen

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