You’re tired of the popular misconception that academics get the whole summer off. Are you letting that public perception affect how you work?
Are you working indoors at your desk?
Are you working during “normal working hours”?
Are you avoiding the hammock? The patio? The dock?
Are you saving gardening, long walks in the woods, and swimming for breaks? Treating them as rewards for getting a certain amount of Real Work™ done?
How’s that working for you?
Let your neighbours be envious
If you need to read, why not read
- in the hammock?
- in a canoe on the lake?
- in the most comfortable chair in the house?
- at the park?
If you are writing, what is the most inspiring place to write?
- on the deck?
- in your gazebo?
- on a rock overlooking a lake that you have to hike 3 miles to get to?
If you need to think big thoughts, might that not be easier while
- hiking (aka walking, in the British sense)
- paddling (in the Canadian sense, i.e. canoeing or kayaking)
- painting your living room
- sanding the deck
(Note: research shows that physical activity actually makes your brain work better. The big thoughts will be easier to think if you do this.)
Who cares if your neighbours think it would be nice to have a long summer vacation to do all those things. You know you are working. And you’ll have something to show your employer and anyone else who really matters.
Let the rest of the world hold on to their weird fantasies.
Take a real vacation
Don’t tell yourself that because your work style looks like vacation that it really is. Just because your neighbour thinks you are on vacation doesn’t mean you are. Fatigue, especially chronic fatigue that you don’t even recognize as fatigue anymore, impairs cognitive function. It makes you less productive. You take longer to do things. You make more mistakes.
Taking a real vacation will recharge your batteries and make you more productive. If you have been skipping vacations and working long hours, it may take a while to get properly rested. If you are early in your career, build good habits now.
Don’t tell yourself that the trip you took to visit that archive or go to that conference was your vacation. Unless you also took time to rest, relax, and see things that had nothing to do with your research.
You work hard. You need (and deserve) real time off.
(The) Power (of) Walking by Fiona Noble
This post was originally published July 11, 2013. Edited April 4, 2016, related post added May 31, 2017.