The reality is that I’ve always been a little bit of a workaholic, but I had felt that I had achieved some sense of balance at least in the last 3-5 years. I was exercising every single day, hanging out at least with one different (if not more) friend(s) every day, spending quality time JT at least once a week as well as taking some time to meditate. I was playing volleyball once a week, and in all that, I was still teaching, doing research, and taking on a bit of consulting work.
When I moved back from Canada to Mexico, I did lose a little bit of that balance. I do need more exercise, that’s for sure (and I’m working on getting that fixed), and to do more social stuff (as no successful academic I know lives only to work, write, teach and publish). I do see my best friend and his wife once a week (they live in Aguascalientes too), and I spend weekends with my parents in Leon (so, 3 nights out of 7 I am at my parental units city).
Still, because I have a home office at my Mom’s house, I can easily resort to answering emails, working on draft manuscripts or read scholarly stuff. And if I am honest with myself, I do bring work with me on weekends (though I try not to spend too much of the weekend on work, as I recognize that I need to recharge my batteries and being close to my parents as they age is the main reason why I left Canada and moved back to Mexico, so spending quality time with them is important to me).
I recently asked a question to my Twitter followers whether they felt external pressure (e.g. explicitly telling you “we need this manuscript by Monday morning” or to have to submit grades, something to that end) or internal (e.g. “I want to finish this and get it over with”). Here is a Storify summary of their responses, with my own commentary.
I am writing this post on a Sunday night, which is a bit ironic, given that I just said that I didn’t feel any external pressure to work weekends, but since academic blogging is something I don’t do during the week, as a norm, I had to finish it today!
The truth is, almost every academic I know (perhaps with the exception of Tanya Golash-Boza) works weekends. Most do on occasion, a few hours, or just one of the 2 days, but at least some time is put into work. In my case, I have found that whenever I take breaks, I write faster, more concise prose, and I am much more refreshed. I also get better ideas when I’m not overworked.
If I may summarize what I learned from asking the question “do you feel external pressure to work weekends?” the vast majority of academics will say “yes, in one way or another”, but it was rewarding to read that even with working weekends, a large majority really enjoy what they do. I certainly do. I work weekends not only because I don’t have the pressure of a family (I’m single now), and I have a thriving research agenda, not because I have external pressures. I am very lucky, and I do recognize those who aren’t as lucky as I am.