Thursday, September 21, 2006

Signs that my job is taking over my life

I had a dream last night that I was being held hostage by some sort of evil computer man. (I forget his title in the dream, but it was something really corny like Lord Programmer.) I knew that if I stood still for even a minute, Lord Programmer would capture, restrain, and torture me, so I spent most of the dream on the run and trying to get work done (note: it's hard to type and walk at a brisk pace). But eventually, I had to stop moving for a minute, and that's when Lord Programmer's minions---who in this dream were being played by my four favorite students, past and present---captured me. I knew what I was in for and started screaming wildly, trying to get free. That's when I woke up, fortunately.

I have found it very hard to keep my work from taking over my life this year, so the fact that I had a dream like this is not at all surprising. I feel like I work all the damn time and yet get nothing done. And when I'm not working, I feel guilty about it---which I realize is totally ridiculous and unhealthy, but that doesn't stop the guilt. Or worse, I take a break (such as an evening off), and then feel frantic the next day about all of the work I need to get done to "make up" for the time off.

I need to get a grip. Clearly I haven't found the work mode that works for me this semester/term, and clearly I need to figure out what that is, pronto, for my sanity and my health.


C said...

I'm having workload problems too.

I was wondering whether this was a temporary thing for you, or whether you've felt like this pretty much from the beginning that you took this job?

Jane said...

Great question, C. I have felt harried and stressed in previous years, and my first semester/term my first year was *horrible* (I just remember being stressed all the time and working all the time). This one's probably a close second. I think some of that is self-inflicted: I'm so anxious about teaching in particular that I am sometimes paralyzed from getting things done. But a lot of it is external, too: this has been an especially busy few weeks for student demands, colleague demands, and "little emergencies" that must be dealt with immediately.

Hope your workload lets up soon!

Lord Programmer said...

Don't worry we weren't going to hurt you we just wanted to question you on what you know about distributed systems.

Anonymous said...

I am sorry you feel that way about work - work should be fun :)

Remember that if you were to leave you wouldn't be missed long, enjoy life around you and with your loved ones instead, I know it sounds corny but it's true, I had a job like that once.... now I won't put myself in a position like that, I hope :)


Astroprof said...

Didn't they make a movie similar to that dream? It was called Tron.

This semester, I seem to be totally consumed with work, too.

Wicked Teacher of the West said...

It must be going around! I feel this way too, though my dreams about work are a lot more mundane.

As I told a friend of mine - who told me it might be June before there's time to meet for coffee - sometimes you just have to MAKE time to relax, even if it doesn't seem possible. I know I've found greater solace in little things like having dinner with my husband in the midst of the craziness.

Wicked Teacher of the West said...

Can't edit, so I'll add what I was trying to type: I hope it gets better soon!!

Anonymous said...

Okay, you need a book. ("What? Another book for an academician?! Oh noooo...")

The title of the book is:

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Zen Living
By: Eve Adams and Gary R. McClain
Publisher: Alpha Books
ISBN: 0028639588

Read the book. It will help.

Hang in there and simplify,

Michael Flessas

Jane said...

Ack! Lord Programmer has found my blog!! No rest for the weary. :)

Thanks for the book suggestion, Michael! I'll check that out. I definitely need some zen in my life.

WToTW, I so agree with the importance of making time for relaxation. (And I've had my share of conversations this week involving setting up lunch dates in *November*---are we really all that busy that we can't eat lunch in October???) I'm really trying to do that. It's so easy to get caught up in the "must always do work" mentality, though. This job is sick, sometimes. :)

Astroprof, you might be on to something---I watched Tron not so long ago! The graphics in my dream were much better, though. :)

Kavitha, I do try to tell myself that "it's just a job". It's hard when the whole atmosphere of my job revolves around "this is a calling, you must sacrifice your life to this job if you want to get tenure", but I do realize that the attitude is not healthy.

Anonymous said...

I think the thing to do is what can do with your time and energies and if they don't give you tenure, well, (can I be blunt?) screw 'em. There are other universities in the universe. You can always go make lots of money in private industry with what you know.

Also, if you don't need to be physically at the school, don't be there because your time will get "vampired" by others. Go when you have to go to teach, do research in person, or absolutely must do face-to-face meetings (how unproductive if you can choose to use a web cam).

Lastly, you might want to read Dr. Richard D.Mandel's book entitled The Professor Game (Publisher: Doubleday;(1977) ISBN: 0385111568) and about the gamesmanship spoiling the tenure process. Perhaps Mandel's book will be a source of amusement, insight, and solace.