Nothing moves me to procrastinate like the prospect of grading dozens of essays. But I've been making great efforts toward getting-things-done instead of putting-things-off. And having just graded 53 essays in a day-and-a-half (yes, I didn't do much else), I can recommend one strategy that's done more than any other to help me get around grading-induced procrastination. Here it is, in all its complexity:
Work for 45 minutes.My 45/15 rule is a variation on a strategy that I saw mentioned by doctoral student Zach Pousman in a MetaFilter thread a few months back on being productive in college. Zach cited PhinisheD, a website for people working on dissertations and theses, and described a 40/20 rule he found there:
Take a break for 15 minutes.
Repeat as necessary.
Do your work in 40 minute blocks with a twenty minute rest between each. This is a set. Then, if you've got 3 hours between classes or in the afternoon, do 3 sets of work as above. Though you'll only work two hours, you'll get so much more done! Swear.I didn't like the idea of losing a third of each hour, so I changed things a bit. My 45/15 rule has made grading much more do-able work, by removing the Sisyphean feeling that has always set in when I realize how many papers I still have to grade (20 done, and 33 still to go! O endlessness!). Now I know that in 45 minutes I can take a break.
45/15 also helps by appealing to my left-brained penchant for routine, giving a shape to the blurry hours. Of course, now that I've graded all these papers, I have no routine, and will have to wait until Wednesday, when my first finals come in, to start grading again. Four days with no routine! But I think I can manage.
[If any of my students are reading this post: the essays for the most part were really, really strong. You can get your essay back on Monday or at your final exam.]