4-Day Work Week

When I was negotiating my contract with my PI, I asked to work four days a week. That way, I could use my day off to work on other things — such as the education & outreach program I’m trying to develop for a nearby observatory, catching up on my reading and/or knitting, working out, or doing chores.

It was all nice at first, but now I’m finding it strangely stressful. I almost feel like four days a week isn’t enough time to be as productive as I’d like to be. I end up feeling guilty for not working on my day off, because I should be getting more things done.

I’m sure it doesn’t help that my progress is pretty slow because of the high learning curve. All I did the first 3-4 weeks was read, and there is still so much that I want to learn, but I wanted to move on to…you know…actually doing stuff.

I also feel like I should be performing at a higher level because I’m a post-doc now, and I should just know how to do shit. I know that I’ve changed research areas, and my PI is very understanding of that, but I don’t want to disappoint her either.

Another issue is that I seem to have about a million and one other things I’m working on. I’m heading up the steering committee for the education & outreach program, and I’m on another steering committee for a new education conference. I also want to finish up the work I was doing in my other post-doc, and write up a paper on that. Then, I’m a member of the post-doctoral association executive council. Oh, and then there’s the whole we-just-bought-a-house and trying-for-a-baby things, plus trying to keep up my hobbies of reading and knitting…and trying to get to the gym too…oh, and keeping up with my two blogs…

It’s nice to be busy in a way, but I’m finding I can’t concentrate on what I’m doing because I’m thinking about everything else I need to be doing. I know I’ve juggled stuff like this in the past, so I’ve started to make more specific goals each day so that I can focus more. It’s been helpful, but I still feel like I’m all over the place sometimes.

Sigh – does life ever calm down?

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Comments on: "4-Day Work Week" (7)

  1. Hahahaha. Wait until you throw a kid into the mix. I remember hobbies… kinda.

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  2. I remember starting my first post-doc, which was extremely similar to the work I did as a grad student, and feeling like I could do absolutely nothing right. (Hobbies at that time were a fantasy.) I'm sure you'll eventually get a hold of it all, though…just remember to take a deep breath and some time for yourself!

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  3. Anonymous said:

    Ask yourself whether some of this work-related behaviour actually advances your career. Fun stuff is of course different…

    You have to get papers published as a postdoc. So what leads to grants and papers and what leads to nothing in particular? Committee work in particular is a massive waste of time. You are allowed to say No.

    -antipodean

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  4. PLS – I'm looking forward to it! I'd gladly give up my hobbies in that case.

    Dr. O – yup, I'm always good for taking time to myself. It's organizing my time at work in an efficient manner that's the tough part right now.

    Anon – I could see that if I intended to stay in academia. However, education & outreach is my intended career path, so the committees I head/sit on are actually very valuable to me. Less valuable is writing papers! LOL

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  5. Anonymous said:

    Sorry. That makes sense then.

    You are still allowed to say No to stuff that doesn't further the plan along though.

    You'll still want a few papers for the street-lab cred though. Without those could there be a risk of falling into the trap that some of the journal editors find themselves in? -Being labelled as a failed scientist rather than somebody who has elected to take another track.

    -antipodean

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  6. Antipodean – yup, I actually say “no” to a lot of things. I'm just saying that because my post-doc stuff is very new, it's been a bit harder to balance everything.

    As for papers, I do have three so far, and another one shortly. Hopefully I can start getting some co-authorships too, where I don't have to do all the work, but actually get credit for something! LOL

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  7. Interesting! I've always said I would love a 4 day work week, but maybe I'd fall into the same feelings of guilt.

    Your recent switch to a new field is no doubt playing some role in your feelings, the question is, how big a role? I'd give it a couple more months at least and see how you feel once you're more confident in your new research area.

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