Luxury problems

Lately, I’ve had my schedule so jam-packed that it hurts. Like, quite literally, my head hurts by the end of the day, and I simply cannot think straight anymore. Excuse me if this posts is not very coherent. It’s a symptom. My eyes hurt from staring at a screen all day long, my head hurts from the tension, my wrists hurt because I use the computer all day long. Everything hurts.

For the past three to four months, every workday of each new week has been full from the moment the week started. Paper revisions, rounds of feedback, new submissions, resubmissions, grant proposals, rounds of feedback on other people’s proposals. Somehow EVERYTHING seemed to come together in these past two months, and it all culminated in weeks of not having much time to go for a simple lunch walk, or take a short coffee break. Lately, it has resulted in me taking advantage of home office as much as possible. At home – given that our kids are in daycare, which they are this week – I have zero disturbance. Zero disturbance basically means maximum self-abuse. You read that right. It has gotten so far that throughout the day, I have taken three minimal breaks; one to put on the kettle for tea, maybe two minutes; one to make toast with some spread on it, maybe five minutes; and one for making coffee, maybe three minutes. I drank my coffee and tea at the computer, and I had my lunch there as well. Okay, fair enough, I stood with my tea on our terrace in the sun for one minute or so.

(I need to tell you here that our new house has a fucking amazing terrace that looks out over fields as far as the eye can see, and on clear days I can see the Alps.)

Alas, today it was too cold, and I needed to get back to work.

Home office has always been a source of self-abuse for me. I always feel guilty for being home during work time, and even more guilty for every moment I look away from the screen. I usually end up working more, and compensating more than I should. Nevertheless, in times like these, it is an efficient tool to get work done. I look forward to Thursday and Friday, where I hope to be in office. Just the idea of walking to the cafeteria in the afternoon is a welcome thought.

What bothers me a bit is that aside from having the freedom to loosely schedule my own days, most of what I am doing at the moment feels like work for others. Don’t get me wrong. It will pay off in the long run. I am well aware of this. Sometimes work for others is of course needed, and it is pretty normal when you climb the ladder in academia, too. However, it sometimes feels out of balance when I spend 39 hours per week on this kind of work, as well as teaching, and barely can find the single hour per week needed to water my ongoing experiment – something that is truly ‘for me’. (Yes, now that you ask; often this is watered by my colleague as well, or during the evening hours by me.) I sometimes miss my PhD project, where all the time I worked was spent entirely on the project I wanted to work on – my project.

How times have changed…

I know I shouldn’t complain too much. It is a luxury problem, and I’m privileged to have this luxury. But luxury can sometimes be tough too. Some people tell me I should become more resilient. I think that is a cunt thing to say. I sometimes feel overwhelmed, and it should be okay to talk about it.

In any case, I am already looking forward to the end of March, when hopefully most of these paper revisions have been accepted (fingers crossed), the manuscripts that are in preparation will be submitted (here we go again), and that beast that occupies most of my mind space, a new grant proposal will be submitted (AAAAARGH!). It could also help that my winter teaching is over by then (hmmm – teaching-free period).

I guess I should make some holiday plans for April or so, eh? (I’ll cut this one off here, and start doing that right away. I’ve been staring at it too long. Did I say my head hurts?

Published by Robin Heinen

Father of two | Husband | Entomologist and Ecologist | Postdoctoral Researcher @ TUM | Traveler | Coffee Addict

3 thoughts on “Luxury problems

    1. Hi Cindy, If there’s time to enjoy the views, I will do it – even for a minute. The transition is what I am worried about. I am not sure I like what I am transitioning into, but that is always difficult to judge beforehand.

      Liked by 1 person

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