Budgeting time for a new semester
Last semester I tracked all my hours – from the minute I received the course confirmation to the moment I clicked SUBMIT on final grades. I had projected and budgeted for 10-12 hours per week for the semester, with an extra few hours expected each week for semester start-up. There were a few weeks where I exceeded the 10-12 hours, when students had submitted their 3 heavily weighted projects and it took longer to grade than I’d planned. But overall, my budget for time was close to accurate. I was on track therefore free to take full advantage of Spring Break, heading out-of-town to a place with no internet service for a few days, to unwind, rest and relax.
It was important to budget my time last academic year because I was commuting 2.25 hours each day, or 15 hours each week. That was a significant cut into my teaching time. I knew I would be at a high risk for burnout, so budgeting my time was crucial to success. It was not easy to stick to the budget. There were afternoons when I forced myself to leave my laptop at the office so I would not be tempted to sit and read online class discussions during family TV time. There were weekends where I burned through 5-6 hours of my budget in a single day doing research. There were mornings I left late for work so I could grade just one more paper.
Semester start-up is consuming, but not all-consuming. This week, I am putting together my fall course site and watching the enrollment trickle in. I am also working on a budget for my time again, with additional hours for the weeks where larger projects are due. I will do my best to work within that budget especially now that working from home adds 15 hours of commute time back into my week. I want to reserve that 15 hours for the things I truly missed when commuting, such as hiking and working in the yard. I want to enjoy family time and have free nights and Sunday afternoons for visiting friends.
I am ready for this semester. A new job, a new routine. I have new colleagues to bounce ideas off of, a new perspective on educational technology, and a fresh new budget of time.