One scientist’s guide to the holidays

So I just came out of that magical time between Dec. 25 and Jan. 1, when it seems as if most of the business and academic world shuts down. There are no emails in my inbox. No one responds to any emails I might dare to send during that time. There is nothing to do, except enjoy some well-earned time off.

Except, for a scientist, there is no dedicated time off. A scientist could always be working, if she chooses to. There’s always more research to do, even more research to write up, a conference abstract to submit, a proposal to write, perhaps new courses to prep. It never stops. And it never has to. Unless a scientist chooses to stop.

So I decided to. Stop, that is. I remembered earlier musings about work-life balance, rather than forgetting those resolutions as is typical a month or so after they are made.

There were a few things that needed to get done over the holiday break. A talk needed to be prepared. But instead of letting it hang over me through the week, ruining any fun I was having because I felt like I should have been working on it and wasn’t, I stopped should-ing all over myself. In my regular Sunday Meeting, I scheduled in a few hours to put the final pieces of the talk together. I added another hour later on in the week to try to get some simulations going. And the rest of that holiday week was left BLANK.

Because I’d kept up with my daily writing practice throughout the quarter, I felt completely guilt-free when it came to taking the entire week off from writing. I showed up for those four hours total, and took care of the pressing work things first. Some bug prevented my simulations from submitting successfully during that hour I’d scheduled to get them going. And instead of extending my scheduled time to try to figure out what the problem was, I let it go. There was no impending deadline. No one was going to die if I didn’t get these runs submitted over the holidays. In fact, no one cared but me. Everyone else was enjoying their holiday vacations. I had put in the time I said I’d put in, so I decided I would too.

I took two-hour long walks. I read books. For fun. I watched a New Year’s marathon of my favorite TV show. I binge-watched Netflix with my husband. We ate delicious meals at home and out at restaurants. I knitted. I took naps and played with our cats. I resurrected my yoga practice. I acted like one of those normal human beings who does a job, and then leaves that job at the office during their holiday break. My holiday break, for the most part, was a real break.



By aomawa

2 comments on “One scientist’s guide to the holidays

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