Every holiday period, I always have a tough decision to make, one which many academics know too well: how to strike the work/life balance.
For many of us who are on a teaching and research contract, holiday periods are really the only blocks of time that we can focus on our research without having to teach; attend staff meetings; respond to colleagues’ and students’ e-mails; sort out admins stuff; or deal with admissions interviews; etc. Whilst I do really enjoy the teaching side of my contract, sometimes it can take over my research time during term time. To make life more interesting, all the major conferences that I want to present at in 2016 (e.g. PME, BERA, ECER, etc.) have their conference paper submission deadlines in the first few weeks of January. What this means is I ended up spending most of the holiday period working on these conference papers. Hardly a complaint, as I could have easily not aimed to submit that many conference papers, especially when this past term I had already presented one at BSRLM; submitted one for AERA; another for UKLA and already have two papers accepted for ICME in Germany next year. However, I always have this strange sense of ‘urgency’ in life, a sense of needing to do more and quicker!
Adding to the mix is, of course, publications. I have been working on two sole-authored and one co-authored papers these past two terms and they all are, again, due for submission later in January / early February. Naturally, the Christmas holiday is ‘of course’ the time to give these three papers the much-needed final touch, whilst at the same time, why not start working on the Literature Review sections of three brand new articles simultaneously(!?): one to do with identifying mathematics learning opportunities in early years play from the lens of gender and socio-economic differences; another on the effectiveness of teaching introductory statistics to Master's and doctoral students using statistics-focused comic books; and the final one on analysing the portrayal of girls and women in mathematics-specific picture books.
Again, this is not a complaint, as my institution would not expect any of its members of staff to be working on their holiday. As mentioned, for some reason, I couldn’t seem to press that ‘off’ switch. How do other academics learn to switch off?
On another news, I also got to spend loads of time playing with Pip (my one-year-old Ragdoll cat); met up with friends and kept in touch with family via an messaging app; and caught up on all the TV programmes I enjoy watching on Amazon Prime; so there was still 'life' in that work/life balance after all ...