Term is now well underway both with regards to work and study. Summer through to the end of October is by far my busiest time and it feels as if I have finally stopped trying to hang on by my nails, only ever one step ahead. I have been working my way through the huge list by continually tackling the job that is most urgent, whether by importance or date needed. All in all it feels like an enormous fire-fighting exercise and whilst I thoroughly enjoy challenge by this time of the year my batteries are completely flat and I feel close to becoming overwhelmed. Ironically, a period which is traditionally the exact time for reflection, taking a break and recharging.
In the midst of my normal task list, this year I added reflection, and not just for a single purpose but for no less than three – CMALT (see my past posts on my journey), Higher Education Academy Fellowship and for my masters in Digital Education.
I consider myself to be naturally reflective (well it’s either that or self-doubt depending on how I am feeling) and question what I do and how I do it. Yet this sustained reflection has left me exhausted and I haven’t even finished all the work required yet. Feelings of frustration are threatening to take over and questions of uncertainty such as ‘is this worth it?‘, ‘why am I pushing this boulder up the hill?‘, ‘will it really boost my professional development?‘, ‘will it affect my working practices?‘ are starting to creep in.
This week though the clouds are starting to lift after a combination of a couple of things. The first was reading a post by Professor Phil Race on the SEDA blog, Reflection on demand? which seemed to sum up many of my thoughts. It covers the lack of time in our busy lives, how reflection has become a demand, the difficulties around evidencing our thought processes, the use of multimedia and of course encourages us to, yes, find the time to reflect. Everything that I was starting to question in fact.
— Clare Thomson (@ClareThomsonQUB) October 16, 2016
The second is that my deadlines are starting to ease just enough for some mental space to find its way in. This head space though isn’t just about mental space it has a physical element. I have reflected before on how important my 15-20 minute walk from the car to my office is. It is the space where I do a lot of my thinking and problem solving in the beautiful surroundings of the park.
However, in a bid to be more efficient I have started to use my folding bike for these journeys and it turns out this is a very different space than walking (I know, shock). On the downside for thinking it is so much shorter but on the positive it is invigorating in way that walking never was. Strangely though despite having less thinking time the cotton wool is being blown away and tangled, overcrowded thoughts are finally beginning to clarify.
As both events occurred together it is impossible to determine which is having the greater influence but either way my batteries are starting to slowly recharge and all the exciting new projects that have been pushed to the sidelines over summer and were in risk of abandonment are now starting to become more concrete. Articles and assignments are being written, flyers designed and funding application submitted.
Which of course means a lot more food for future reflection …