Play when you want

The summer is really the only time I can schedule long trips.  The next month we have a lot of conference prep for two important conferences coming up.  Then the next month I’m moving to a 3-day work schedule for two weeks (and four days working from home), then taking two weeks off completely.  One week I’ll be out of contact completely, and the other I’ll be available sparingly.  I love how I don’t feel bad that I’m away and I’m not worried about someone taking over my job.  I also am very grateful that I didn’t have to ask anyone if it’s okay that I take this time off.  It’s fantastic.  That was always one of my biggest gripes in industry: having to tell someone or get approval for my absenteeism.  If I need a mental health day I just tell my students over email then be available as best as I can.  If I want to schedule a long vacay I just do it.

Now, there is a general decrease in the lab’s productivity when I’m gone, but I’m very okay with that.  I don’t have shareholders or upper management to justify myself to, and my students deserve to slow down every once in a while.  I have one student who goes full-tilt all the time, and I’ve told her that she doesn’t have to, but she insists.  She’ll be a great worker some day, I just hope she doesn’t burn out.

When I was in industry, my employees would ask me if they could have such-and-such day off for whatever-activity.  I would always just tell them they don’t have to ask, they know what the hard deadlines are, and to just submit the vacation requests and I’ll approve it with no questions asked.  I wish I could have set up my department where I didn’t need to have them request time, but it was corporate policy.  Now, I have times I put in everyone’s calendar of critical times I need them in the lab (prep for grants, conferences, etc.), but otherwise, they just put that they’ll be gone in Google calendar and I don’t see them that time.

The freedom of time, alone, is worth the pay cut I took to get here.

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