I have a problem.
Apparently, when I get a manageable schedule (such as this semester's) with a reasonable and achievable set of goals (such as, again, this semester), I feel compelled to fill up any unused time with more work. Here's how I imagine the internal conversation went, sometime back in January:
COMMON SENSE BRAIN: Hey! Look at our schedule this semester! We've only got three regular courses and three grad student supervisions! And all the regular courses are the ones we've taught before! And we've only committed to one article! We may actually have a manageable semester on our hands here!
SELF-SABOTAGING BRAIN: I dunno... doesn't that seem a little... off?
CSB: Well, sure: it's not our usual way of doing things. But remember how the usual way was leaving us exhausted and overcommited? I think this is real progress. Let's focus on that.
SSB: I just don't feel right about this. It feels weird.
CSB: Tell you what: why don't we slightly revamp the readings for our upper-division seminar. Remember how that syllabus has about half a dozen articles that neither we nor the students find useful? We could look up new ones, and assign them, and then we'd be reading something new, too.
SSB: Good idea! I'll go do that!
[one week later]
SSB: Hey. I just figured something out.
CSB: [distractedly, looking up from watching latest episode of Justified and once again bemoaning the fate of Deadwood] What?
SSB: That new reading thing? That's only going to keep us occupied one hour of one day out of the week, for about four or five weeks. we've still got loads of spare time.
CSB: [gesturing] Hence this fine scripted entertainment. Pull up a chair. I think we have one last diet coke in the fridge.
SSB: You're missing the point. This is time we could be filling up with Doing All the Things. [pulls up weekly calendar] See this unclaimed block here Monday nights?
CSB: [reluctantly, hitting "pause" on the video] At the end of our 9-3:30 teaching day? That one?
SSB: Yeah, that's the one. Now listen: it just so happens that La Professora -- you remember her, right? Lots of fun; keeps trying to set us up with men we're too busy to hang out with?
CSB: I like her.
SSB: Good. Because she's teaching a class Monday nights on... wait for it... Don Quixote.
CSB: We've always wanted to read that!
SSB: [excitedly] I know, right!?
CSB: But wait a minute: That's a 1200-page novel.
SSB: But it's a novel. And we want to read it. And this will give us structure and accountability.
CSB: But... it'll mean that we're on campus Mondays from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.
SSB: We can get more grading done!
CSB: I think we should give this more...
SSB: I signed us up. Here are the books. [sets down two volumes] We'll get to be talking about ideas! Hooray!
CSB: [glancing through them] These are in Spanish! And not even modern Spanish! And the syllabus says we'll be reading 100 pages a week!
SSB: Plus the critical articles... did I mention those? And the seminar is conducted in Spanish, too, so the whole thing will be great practice, dontcha think? This is gonna be awesome! [exit]