Sunday, June 7, 2015

Working and Overwork: What Is Good and What Is Bad?

So I've been incredibly good about grading lately.  Yesterday I managed to get right to work and do all sorts of things -- not finishing anything, but making very good headway.  Today?  I can't make myself do crap.  I'm super-behind on one facet of my grading, and so I've been trying to just get it done this weekend before I see those students again on Tuesday.  Yesterday, I got four done, which doesn't sound impressive unless I tell you how long I've been putting it off, which, if I did tell you, you'd wonder how I haven't lost my job by now.  Yes, that long.  Today, I've managed two.  And I'm doing a really great job of whining and moaning and bitching about it.

Which leads me to say this:  we reward people for over-work, for insane lacks of work-life balance.  At my institution there is a professor who is lauded because he hasn't taken his regular time off in eons.  A while back we had some leader of something-or-other who came and gave a talk, and he admitted that his success depended on his disengaging with his family.  (It's funny because there is a wonderful piece about how not being grounded by family and friends leads many successful business leaders into thinking they can engage in unethical acts without being noticed.  No one told that leader guy invited to campus, evidently.)  I've been writing about lack of work-life balance for a long time.  Here is a piece I wrote about that ages ago.  And here is my classic piece on the subject, up on my soapbox.    

So here's something important that I need to file away for the future:  working every day is not "being good."  It's denying my students and my work the perspective that comes from being away.  It's more ethical for everyone to take time off (take that guy who doesn't take time off!).  It's also not great for my family or me or the work for me to be sitting here bitching and moaning because I've screwed things up to a point where I have to work everyday.  Bad.  Very bad. 

So, what am I going to do?  I'm going to drink this Earl Grey (second caffeinated beverage of the day:  I'm desperate), and I'm going to work on these 12 more pieces I have, hopefully finishing them but at least getting 6 more done, then I'm going to do some calculations I have to do (gotta love quantitative assessment!  yes, I am kidding) in front of the TV while the sky rains down the buckets we're expecting in a few hours.

Do I have to say that I have not yet been able to schedule the glaucoma tests?  I have an insane week with meetings, classes, committees every day.  But there are only two weeks left.  Then a week of grading.  I.can't.wait.

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