Recently, my fellow blog writers have talked about ways to stay motivated, keep a sense of humor, how to better manage time and even how to manage depression. Almost all of us have mentioned taking some time to yourself. I was struck that we have to specifically call out taking time for enjoyment. We each have our own goals in life – earn lots of money, obtain influence, help others, enjoy the world. But on each path, an individual will feel unsatisfied if he/she is not committed to, and happy with, the chosen use of his/her time. For example, if I am interested in helping others, I may feel extremely dissatisfied with spending all of my time alone staring at a computer screen or 96-well plate.
While I am certainly committed to and happy with my choice to pursue a PhD and what follows, I also am committed to having a rich family life and community and challenging myself both physically and intellectually. Yet, with one-mindedness I pursue my research and teaching activities, leaving out the other parts that I want in my life. Is this sacrifice temporary and necessary for the degree or am I pursuing my degree in a way that is harmful to my life goal? This article about graduate student workaholics tells me it is the latter.
In this article, the author describes a university environment that encourages students to work ALL THE TIME. When we are not in the lab or classroom, we are glued to our computers grading, reading, writing, analyzing data, etc. While we are all in a rush to make the most of our time, we are burning ourselves out. There should not be guilt associated with having a nice dinner with family or drinks with friends. Rather, taking that time will provide stress relief, happiness and will inspire productivity and creativity.
So, I am sharing this article as a wake up to all those who may be closet workaholics. I certainly wouldn’t have called myself that before reading it. However, I have certainly taken work with me on vacations, cancelled personal appointments to finish work and worked in the evenings and outside of office hours. These workaholic behaviors are listed in The Artist’s Way at Work which is referenced in the above article. The realization that I need to set up boundaries to fit in all that is important to me in life is empowering. I encourage you to make a list of things that are important to you and prioritize them, not just your graduate work. Because the work will still be there for you in the morning.
-workaholic in recovery