It is going to happen. This weekend I will find myself on the patio of my local World of Beer and I will have my laptop. I will be working. Despite the weekend being a gift of Labor Unions and a product of the 40 Hour Work Week outlined in the 1937 Fair Labor Standards Act there is just an urge to work at almost all times. If it is not over the weekend with a nice pilsner it is in the evenings following up emails as I watch The Bachelor or an NBA game on TNT. No matter how much I talk to myself about work and life balance, I find myself working outside of the normal work hours.
And you know what, I am kind of good with it.
Here is why. I do my best work when I feel the urge to work calling from my laptop. As higher ed professionals we are more a professional creative than an 8 to 5 office worker immortalized by Dolly Parton in 1980. The work we typically do has to be planned but also inspired and that often does not happen from 8 to 5.
Last year I invested in a day planner. It is one of those fancy ones that asks each person to set a morning ritual, to set out three big goals for the day, and plan your work in blocks of time. You know this planner. It has a nice leather cover, is fancy, and has not done much to solve my varied method for working. It serves as a reminder of how terrible I am at planning and holding to a traditional workday. I do not like it.
And I must admit, I can get bored when I am working for too long on a project. I have varied interests and they creep in at various times too. This includes 8 to 5. This is the problem with being a professional creative. We tend to have all sorts of irons in the fire and not all of them are compensated by my employer.
Look, when you can set your own schedule for the most part there will be times of great procrastination and times of dominant productivity. And for the most part it is hard to predict when that is going to happen.
And this SHOULD BE A GOOD THING! Afterall, we are not robots and we do not live on instinct like many animals do. We simply cannot will ourselves to follow a schedule that is set as some sort of monolith. So that reasonably should also include working when we do not have to. I have a theory about this work, and I share it with my employees often, its called the, I’m going to get 40 out of you at some point so why worry about it? In our work it is not uncalled for to have events on the weekend, after hours, or in addition to. It comes with the territory. So, I trust my people to follow their personal work waves and just get the job done. Sometimes that is 60 hours this week, maybe it is 30 next week. By year’s end, I am going to see the product and it will be great.
So, it is okay.
It is okay to take a break and get a Diet Mtn. Dew and catch up with a friend.
It is okay to go for a walk and think and plan on a nice day.
It is okay to sit on the back porch on a Sunday and craft a grant proposal instead of reading the paper.
It is okay to slack off at times and to kick some butt at other times.
Why, because work and life balance should not be also an 8 to 5. When that happens then relaxing can be stressful too. Personally, I always feel best when I know I am productive and creative. And that can always happen. So, I guess it is not a big deal I cannot take a day off, but it is a big deal if it interferes with my ability to make a living and to complete my tasks. Afterall, I love my job. When I complete a task that is worth doing, I get satisfaction from it. I am entertained by learning about student success, and I am lucky to have this job. My work and life balance are baked in to the fact I am able to pursue an interesting and enjoyable career. More tomorrow.