If you haven’t listened to Episode 6 yet, you can do so here or under “All Episodes”!
Can we actually achieve “balance”?
That is one of most difficult questions to answer in academia! I struggle with balance every single day, as do my co-hosts. When we were chatting, Zach said that the work of an academic doesn’t really end: “for many of us our work is our life.” And, our research is usually interesting to us, so why wouldn’t we want to think about it?
But let me ask you this: how do we begin to conquer the illusive work/life balance when we don’t actually have a clear definition of what it is? “Balance” looks different for every single person. No one is in the same situation. Some people prioritize volunteering and hobbies during the week and work more on weekends, while others like to work more hours during the week so they have their weekends free. It really is all about what makes you the most fulfilled, IMHO.
However, there is another element that makes the line between work and life even fuzzier: dun, dun, dun…technology! The availability of technology makes it hard for us to unplug from work. I know I check my email way too much, to the point that I check it in bed before going to sleep. (That blue light cannot be good for my sleep, y’all!)
In addition, balance is thrown off by things like the gendered societal expectations of parenting, additional (and unpaid) emotional labor, informal (and again unpaid and unrecognized) mentoring, and the expectations of additional service responsibilities to minority populations in the academy can all take time away from the paid (and thus valued) work in academe and from our time that is meant to be spent on the life part. It certainly does not help that workloads are going up as budgets are shrinking almost everywhere.
Our work/life “balance”:
- Kristen said that work/life balance is like juggling sand. She also said it’s like balancing a budget.
- Zach said that his personal life threatens to take over his work life. (He’s so popular!) Research and teaching (and sleep) should take priority, but he is involved with leadership and enjoys having a social life.
- Sleeps often goes first for me, but I think I have gotten better with that in the last few months.
Like a good academic, I did a google search to see what is out there:
- I found these posts by The Professor Is In to be good reads: “The Price You Will Pay for Work/Life Balance” and “Work/Life Balance?”
- Here is the blog post from The Guardian Higher Education that I found particularly interesting: “The Superwoman Fallacy: What It Really Takes to be an Academic and Parent”
- And finally, the Forbes article: “6 Tips for Better Work/Life Balance”
- The other two sources I mentioned were Margaret W. Sallee’s (2013) “The Ideal Worker or the Ideal Father: Organizational Structures and Culture in the Gendered University” and Martha Ackelsberg, et al.’s (2004) “Remembering the ‘Life’ in Academic Life: Finding a Balance Between Work and Personal Responsibilities in The Academy”
For this episode’s self-care segment, we went on a 5am walk around a nature area. I started morning walks after I finished dissertating, because I had gotten into the habit of getting up at 4:30am to start writing. When I had finished writing, I realized I started to like getting up early, so I kept doing it.
My co-hosts were not the biggest fans of this activity (and Kristen reminded us that self-care is a relative term). Zach likes walking but not before the birds are awake. I have to say they were really good sports about it!
- Zach 5/10
- Kristen 2.75/10
- Rachel 9/10
Well, that’s all for this episode. Thanks for listening, all. Until next time, keep on surviving!
*We are NOT sponsored by any of these folks. We just like them.