February 22, 2005

The Hamster Wheel of Academic Life

(Warning: huge steaming vent ahead.)

I must be on a giant hamster wheel. There are so many things to do; so many that are important, not ignorable, and not postponable. Past experience suggests that the best strategy to get into a position such that you can actually see over the top of the pile of important tasks is to get on with it! (Ok, ok, blogging is not getting on with it, I take your point.) But I'm running and running round this wretched wheel, and it just gets faster and faster. Tasks just keep on appearing and appearing, faster than I can get through them.

Of course, some of this is counter-productive. The faster you get those emails dealt with, the faster the replies come back. Witness the "five o' clock flurry" that can happen when several lecturers are simultaneously trying to clear out their inboxes before going home and a spectacular ricochet effect occurs. (Actually 6 or 7 o' clock is more like it, but 5 alliterates alluringly.)

Another irony: I'm one of those people for whom living in a whirl of tasks is necessary, and if I don't have enough plates to spin, I'll throw some up there just for fun. But there's a fine line between "busy and beautifully motivated" and "Stop the hamster wheel! I want to get off!". I didn't choose the tasks on my pile! When you have such a non-morning person as myself resort to getting up at 6am just try and make a bigger dent in the pile of tasks, then you know it's getting ridiculous. And why is it getting ridiculous? Because this time, I'm determined to try and have what's known as a "social life". Three evenings off per week, I'm attempting! (More fool me, I know.) Work-life balance? Fttttttttttt! Don't talk to me about balance! Go read up on AVL trees for me, then we'll talk about balance...


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