Monday, October 03, 2005

The 80-hour workweek

Mr. Jane is always teasing me that I "live to work" rather than "work to live". To some extent, he is right. I derive immense pleasure from my work: it drives me, motivates me, excites me, and to some extent defines me. Yet, I also have strong interests that do not involve work, that I enjoy as much as my work, and that play a role in defining me. And I work hard to achieve balance in my life so that I can pursue these interests. It's not always easy in this line of work, but I'm usually successful.

Sometimes, though, things pile up and they *have to* get done by a certain deadline. And sometimes, these deadlines all seem to fall in the span of a week or two. Ergo, the 80-hour workweek (or something close to it).

We've all debated and debated this topic: how unhealthy the 80-hour workweek is, how unrealistic, etc. No argument here. It is so hard to maintain any level of excellence or of motivation when all you are doing is working, and when you don't ever have a day off from working. People need to rejuvenate themselves, and the best way to do this is to lay off the work for a day or an afternoon.

But sometimes, no matter what you do and no matter how much you try to prevent the 80-hour workweek from happening, it happens. For me, it was a result of too many commitments (mostly unexpected and last-minute) in the weeks leading up to this one. I knew this busy week was coming, and I had everything mapped out in preparation so that I wouldn't be scrambling at the last minute, but I forgot to leave time for the unexpected. And the unexpected derailed me. And now I'm paying dearly for it; my first opportunity for a break is days away, perhaps over a week away.

I worked all weekend. Sure, there were breaks here and there (including one precious break for exercise), but there was no day of rest, no kicking back with a book, just the relentless checking off of tasks on the to-do list. As a result, I feel burned out and sick. But I don't have a choice: I can't stop until this batch of deadlines has passed. And the worst part is knowing that I tried all I could to avoid this, and I still couldn't do it.

One day at a time....

1 comment:

Clare said...

feel same way as you about work.
That's a hell of a long week though! Very impressive...