Temporary Work-Life Imbalance

I could not wait for Friday night this week. I am very tired.

I don’ think I have yet managed to get a hold of my schedule or my workload this semester at all. Pushing things to the sidelines because of the proposals just made everything worse, because the work never goes away. It just piles on, sitting there, waiting. And it didn’t help that I didn’t catch a break before the semester started. Now I need to find a way to recuperate and re-energize, the sooner the better, without any serious time off.

I know us folks with kids complain all the time how it’s hard, and we are busy with the kids, etc. It’s times like these, when I really need a breather, that make parenting tough. I wish I could say that I would just stay at home in my pajamas, watching TV all weekend. But weekends are kids’ time, and the kids have their own ideas on how all of us should be spending it. Plus there’s housework and just keeping it together so next week can go smoothly. If I need a day off, I have to take off work, which is really a terrible idea, not because I will get in trouble with my boss, but because I am the boss and the work never stops or lets up.

I am still digging myself out from underneath a mountain of service work. As evidenced by yesterday’s post, I have been writing letters of nomination and recommendation and reference and evaluation left, right, and center. Some of it is for the people I know well (e.g. my undergrad researcher applying to grad school), some is department service on behalf of worthy colleagues, but each new letter is a fair bit of work.  Also, I have something like 5 papers to review.  Why do I do that? Why do I accept all those referrals? You’d really think I would learn by now. But I get a referral, and the paper looks cool and is in my area, and I think in two weeks I will have the time (as if) and before you know it I have a freakin’ pile and it really looks like it’s going to eat up my whole weekend. Yet I can’t have it eat my weekend, because I really need the weekend…

There are four manuscripts in the pipeline, in first draft form. I wish we could submit them all before New Year, but I don’t know how I will manage to do that, considering that each needs considerable work.

I really hate over-scheduling and over-structuring my days, but perhaps that’s what I need, at least temporarily, in order to get back on a productive track.

But for now, I will start by getting some sleep.



  1. It is nice to know that I am not the only one! And you seem so much more efficient than me – I am pretty much always in some imbalanced state. I have a similar mountain of work waiting (writing letters, reviewing papers and proposals) and four rough manuscripts as well. Plus grading. Plus I have some travel coming up and need to prepare two different talks. Plus I’ve had a blinding migraine for three days now. And I also have kids with ideas and scheduled activities for the weekend, messy house, piles of laundry, and we are running out of various food items.

    On a positive side, my kids share my love of popcorn, ice cream and movies, and they are just old enough that we can find something to watch that we all like. This Saturday sounds like an excellent escapist pajama/TV/popcorn day (at least for a part of the day)!

    Also, I do occasionally take a day off from work. Not very often, and it is usually after I do some grueling, very intensive project that requires sustained full concentration and creativity (like last-minute proposal writing), so I feel like I need and deserve it. If I don’t take a day off (to binge watch TV or go shoe shopping), I end up spending big chunks of such days reading blogs and newspapers, having longer-than-necessary lunch with colleagues, or annoying my grad students with stories about how things were different when I was a grad student. So it is not really a huge loss. Although this might explain why I am always behind on everything…

  2. I’ve managed semesters better too. Today is for DH because he has a grant deadline coming up… so I took my kids to the grocery store and DC2 (the two year old) had a massive melt-down to end all melt-downs. The grocery staff shuffled us out of there in no time, even though the store was packed– they pulled me out of a line into a new check-out they’d opened just for me, put my groceries from the cart on the thingy, filled the bags, then carried my groceries to the car and put them in the trunk. Then I sat in the car for 40 min until DC2 was willing to take a bribe to stop screaming and get in her carseat. So I’m taking a little alone time right now.

    I did finish my 6th referee report last week though!

  3. Tigerlily, I rarely feel in balance during the semester. I think the last time I felt in balance was this summer, as I was happily working on the last papers to get out before proposal season… Once September starts, it seems Ok, then you blink and all of a sudden everything is totally out of whack. I underestimated how much time this new course I am teaching would take, and how much work this one committee on which I am would take. (One thing I hate with a passion is writing solutions to homework problems. When you know the stuff they can be deathly boring, and take time that I don’t have.) And there are all these tasks that piled up while I was writing proposals. I just want to hide somewhere for a week and veg out, honestly.

    nicoleandmaggie: DC2 (the two year old) had a massive melt-down to end all melt-downs… Then I sat in the car for 40 min until DC2 was willing to take a bribe to stop screaming and get in her carseat. So I’m taking a little alone time right now.

    *hugz* I’ve been there. I hope you have some good chocolate on hand…

  4. I had a lot of chocolate!

    She had another massive melt-down after bath and went to bed an hour early (for her) without any of her regular bedtime routine. So I feel like probably it isn’t me and she’s coming down with something. Which is bad in that we don’t want her to be sick, but also means it will probably be safe to take her shopping in the future.

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