On back to school and starting as you mean to continue

It’s almost September. For an academic, it’s the new year. Forget January resolutions. For me, I’m all about September. It’s back to regular life and routine. Structure and order return to my life. Teenagers go back to high school and others back to university.

For me it’s also,

Back to CrossFit

Back to running

There’s also,

New students

New schedules

New habits (I will pack my lunch and healthy snacks!)

I always remember the saying, another grandmother pearl of wisdom, “start as you mean to continue.” No putting off adding exercise until week two of term. If you want to do it, start right away. Start as you mean to continue.

Here’s a rough outline of my fall physical activity schedule:

Monday: CrossFit + Run

Tuesday: Bike + Aikido

Wednesday: CrossFit + Run + Aikido

Thursday: Bike

Friday: CrossFit + Run

Saturday: Aikido + Bike

Sunday: Bike + Hot Yoga

That’s Aikido times 3, running times 3, CrossFit times 3 and biking times 4. Phew. No scheduled rest day but disaster strikes often enough in terms of my schedule, that I’m sure I’ll get some rest.

I’ve written before about switching gears at the start of the school year. There’ll be no more day time bike rides, for example. On the bright side, there’ll also be less travel away from home without my bike.

It’s September very soon and back to school. As a university professor this means I move from a summer time focus on research, writing, conferences, and PhD student supervision to a term time focus on teaching, university committees, department talks, and in October especially, more conferences.

And no, we don’t get summers off. Please don’t ever ask professors what we do with our summers. We get four weeks paid vacation and this summer I only managed to take a few days of that. Sigh.

Why do tenured academics work so hard in the summer when, from a certain perspective, we don’t have to? It’s our entrepreneurial work culture, I think, and I’ve blogged about that over at Pea Soup.

But back to September when the university term busyness begins. It’s not that I work more during term time, though I do because the demands of graduate supervision and research and writing continue as well, but the striking difference is who controls my time.

On my summer schedule I write into the night if I feel like it and take the next morning off to go run on the trails with dogs, or ride my bike with friends. I schedule meetings with my doctoral students off campus in nearby coffee shops. It’s still work, and there’s lots of it, but it’s more or less on my terms. It’s a very privileged life and I’m thankful.

But classroom teaching occurs when it best fits the needs of students and my department. Committee meetings are scheduled around my teaching hours. And at the start of the year it feels like there’s barely time to breath, let alone prepare classes and finish writing commitments.

I’m not complaining. I love my job and think that being a professor is one of the best jobs in the world.

September is one of my favorite months. It’s fall but not yet cold. School routine but not yet so busy I’m run ragged with meetings and grading. It’s also the perfect temperature to run and to ride bikes. Bring it on!

Photos from Western University website.

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