I’ve enjoyed my conversations with Liana Silva. Her last post really touched me and troubled me. I was not frustrated with Liana, but with the truths she spoke about the ways in which academics allow the constant blurring of our work and personal lives. She made me look into the mirror and think about my work and the infamous to do lists that I keep. I spent all last week thinking about guilt. The guilty way I feel when I think about my day and the constant struggle to get all the tasks completed.
There is always a paper to write, assignments to grade, lectures to work on and other work. Then, add to that projects, publications, and service in the department, faculty and wider campus. The reality is that most academics do not work a 40 hour work week. No, we work easily work 50-60 and during the crunch periods more than this. And, this doesn’t include all the time responding to emails or thinking about the job. Alas, we do not get to bill by the fifteen minute increments!
The night before I read Liana’s post I had some tea and was thinking about what I had accomplished that weekend, since I had worked some on both Saturday and Sunday. I admit that I did check off what I did not accomplish and did feel disappointed. I thought about the next day and wondered how I would get everything done. My email keeps on hovering more than 100 unread emails and there is something about that third digit that disturbs me. Granted I scan through the emails and categorize them based on need–what needs an immediate response?
I read her post and felt guilty for feeling guilty. How funny is that? I then looked at my “done” list and realized that in my additional day of work I had finished or put some small dents in several projects. Plus, I had taken the time to respond to countless emails from past, current, and even prospective students. More importantly I had also spent quality time with both children and my partner. I had also enjoyed a movie with my teen and two of my favorite television shows–so it was not all work and no play. I made it to the gym a few times, as well. But, some of the projects are ongoing and will not complete themselves daily. I needed to remind myself.
All week Liana’s post was at the back of my mind and I was trying hard to think about all that I had completed. I also tried to not apologize to my students in seminar for not finishing the grading of their blog posts. They had submitted them on Monday and Tuesday and normally they get their grades by Thursday. I explained to them that I was in the midst of grading almost 200 first year paper proposals and would get to their blogs. No one slammed her/his hand on the table and said–this is unacceptable. Instead, I got polite emails asking about other stuff–office hours and other assignments. When I read the blog posts on Saturday and Sunday, I realized that the seminar discussion went well and the review of the posts would have marginally helped me tease out more comments from them.
The funny thing is that my latest blog post that I wrote (it will run later) for the University of Venus is about time management. This post and continued conversation with Liana is really about the need for self-compassion. This also extends to the ways in which we treat our peers. Compassion can go a long way. But, do we remember compassion for ourselves?
This week of thinking about compassion toward myself and others was important. When a student sits down in my office this time of year, two words flash in my mind: patience and compassion. I need to do this when I think about my day. I was in bed most nights thinking about what I did, what I completed. It took work to think this way, as I’ve been extra busy than usual with administrative work, the book project, the department is hiring and this means extra commitments, as well as a women’s conference that I am planning with others. Like most Type A’s it takes work to not stare at the to do list and count the pending tasks. I’m still working on framing the done list as the priority. Thank you, Liana for reminding me.