It is not time management, y’all, or management of priorities, or of tasks, these are the things many of us learned even before serious school started. It is energy management and again, I am not talking about time or priorities or effort. I will explain.


10 thoughts on “Einstein

  1. I am trying to figure out how to articulate this. Energies, levels of energies, management of spirit, something … ? I had this insight as an image, that I called e=mc2, late at night after talking by telephone about current crisis here with my ex department chair, discussing the other ex department chair we have in common and another administrative situation that is causing me difficulty now.

    She said I was in a bullying atmosphere now and that she had been under our ex chair, and suddenly a great deal became clear to me and many points became a lot clearer. You have to liberate energy and the theme of academic advice, conserving time, goes in the opposite direction.


    (Also in my book on this I have to discuss academic advice for women and persons of color. I just flashed on one p & t committee meeting at one of my various institutions where they were literally setting up a way to write standards a certain person “could not make” but that would “look objective.”)

  2. Not really on the topic of this post, but I have been looking at a couple of different blogs this morning that made me think you are so right about the standard advice being for people who . . . well, I would say who are in an adversarial relationship with their writing (and this might be a permanent or only temporary state of affairs; I bet plenty of people have a passing problem that is sort of like having a cold, and does not require the treatment due to a potentially disabling condition). And if this is not your normal condition, if writing/ research is relaxing and rejuvenating, how different everything looks!

    I am Boicing my grading.

  3. I want to blog about this too. I am treated like a prince in my department so I am far from being bullied, but I also know how to convert negative energy into positive, as in my first t-t job, where I published a lot just to prove people wrong. Just going into the office was stressful because of my colleagues.

    The time factor comes when it provides a window in which the energy can be liberated. In other words, if you wait to feel the energy before you set aside time to work, then you are lost.

    The writing will always be adversarial for me, in a couple of senses. I want to prove people wrong (those real and imaginary people who don’t think I’m so great). I want to be polemical in my own writing, and also competitive against rivals. That’s how I’m wired, but it is also a problem for me, because I shouldn’t be coming from such an angry place. Objectively I don’t have a lot to be angry about except my salary.

    1. I have more to say but on paragraph #2, I am not talking about having the energy to work, or being tired, or something. I am talking about having energy blocked. I used to say “access to self” and that counts too, but if you unblock energy then time really expands and that is why I called the post Einstein.

      I find standard academic advice very energy blocking and that is partly because I have been as it were tied to a chair and beaten in the face with it since early childhood and partly because I have had it used against me in other ways.

      But also I think it is made for people who do not know what they are doing, so they can survive; it is not made for people who do know (as I keep saying, ad nauseam).

  4. I think I see where you’re coming from. The standard academic advice about time management is Academia 101. We all know it, especially if we come from academic families, as you and I do. So it comes off as incredibly condescending and beside the point, when the problem is located elsewhere. It is a kind of alibi for the real problem, an “elsewhere” or a diversion.

    What I’ve found is that a lot of people don’t know academia 101, so I find myself repeating that advice over and over on my blog. I also do it for myself, because, although I should know it, I am constantly fighting myself over it. Also, I try to separate the authentic part of academia 101 from the spurious advice you often denounce here.

    I had interpreted your “Einstein” as a sarcastic remark, because my daughter uses that word when I say something super obvious. It kind of means “duh.” The point is, yes, “access to self.” You have to be connected to your own, authentic work, the work you are meant to be doing. It doesn’t take an Einstein to figure that out, but we often forget it.

    1. Yes! The access to self is what it’s really all about. And for some years, because of illness, fatigue, and brain fog (external problems, really, not things where attitude or time management made any difference) I was alienated from self and work. And now I’m not. At least the external problems were not imposed by other people, just by a situation that was luck of the draw. The whole of my academic life felt like a huge and almost insurmountable hurdle until my health improved, and then I had to get past the internalized shame and doubt because I hadn’t been producing when I was sick. But it’s not the writing/research that is the problem.

      But, Jonathan, I would say that you do not at all have an adversarial relationship to your writing. The writing is a tool, or an ally, and you work together to “show” your colleagues. I have a bit of that in me.

      1. What I meant was that those adversarial feelings come into play when I am writing. My arguments with myself, my dissatisfaction with my own work, my self-doubt, as well as my polemics with others. It is all a gigantic chip on my shoulder.

    2. “Also, I try to separate the authentic part of academia 101 from the spurious advice you often denounce here.”

      This is important.

  5. “What I meant was that those adversarial feelings come into play when I am writing. My arguments with myself, my dissatisfaction with my own work, my self-doubt, as well as my polemics with others. It is all a gigantic chip on my shoulder.”

    *** A huge part of my essentially quitting publishing had to do with having heard my father and also certain Brazilians hold forth just one too many times. Anger at the prohibition on disagreeing and at the condescension got too strong at some point and I cannot get out of fight or flight mode very easily without an RL study group or without getting to a physical location where I have studied well before. ***

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