December 28, 2007

Pacing oneself

I've been spending several hours each day since the 25th on some EPAA editing duties. The end of the semester put me behind on a number of tasks on the journal, and if there is a professional New Year's resolution for 2008, it is to devote enough time regularly to the journal to scramble back from the hole I'm in without spending so much time in a single day that it becomes a chore.

In many ways, the trick of being a middle-aged professional is judicious pacing. I have two adolescent children, a marriage, some interests in the community I live in, and a work environment where I have a wonderful situation in many ways, being overcommitted with free choices I have made. I have had some stretches where I put in serious overtime (60+ hour weeks), and in many ways I have some skills in short-term detail work that are a professional advantage. But you don't really survive an academic career with constant stretches of two-week-turnaround massive projects, or at least I couldn't with my sanity and family intact.

I've done far better in the long term when I poke persistently away at projects, with periodic panic weeks when everything else is tossed aside. (The periods of concentrated effort require a long gestation/fermentation period to be effective.) There are some psychological side-effects of such a habit: I don't feel happy if I go a number of days without working on something. A touch of workaholism, perhaps, but it's a tradeoff for complete nuttiness punctuated with occasional lassitude. Some people can do the utter lassitude for long stretches. Not me, or at least not right now.

So if you're spending this week relaxing, please enjoy. I'll work for you if you'll drink a cocktail for me at noon. Somehow it'll all balance out.

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Posted in The academic life on December 28, 2007 5:12 PM |