On End-of-Term Distractions

Now that we are in the most difficult part of the fall semester, with paper grading, holiday responsibilities, and end-of-term planning in full swing, I have noticed an uptick in those distracting emails that some folks love to send. From links to BuzzFeed lists (Wow! I never knew that about The Brady Bunch) to political essays (You won’t believe what he thinks!) to outright head-scratchers (Chain emails? Really? You have time for that?), ’tis the season for time wasting.

The last weeks of the semester are stressful, and I have learned the benefits of a little humor and distraction at this time of year. I have a habit of streaming classic comedies or 1980s dance music on my computer while I am grading or working on projects; they lighten my heart and keep me from being overly wearied by the task at hand.

Having said that, however, when I am wrestling with a huge stack of essays, I must admit to cringing when I see some inbox notification pop up because I know that I have just lost my train of thought for nothing. I am easily distracted and sometimes have to turn off my email for hours at a time just because I can’t risk wasting too much of my mental energy. I have friends who use the “offline” mode on their email only during this season so that they can avoid interruptions and can pop in and out of the digital world with a bit of control.

What are your favorite end-of-term time wasters? What distractions are your worst nightmares? How do you deal with them?

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