Its the first week of January, and I already felt the spirit of New Year has deflated a little…
Perhaps because I spent the last weeks of 2017 in Bali. So, upon returning I felt a little overwhelmed.
As many organizations, we academics also felt a lot of pressure in December. Its the end of semester, which means piles of marking to go through. Having done this for over ten years now, I already work out strategies. In the beginning of the semester I develop Course Planning, which state clearly the assignments and grading required for the course. With this planning I can see what I need to do to ensure that the grading part is less painful. I try so hard to disciplined myself by doing the marking as soon as the assignments, quizzes and exams took place. For some assignments (less complicated with clear answers) I enlisted the help of one or two graders. Of course there are some assignments (projects, essays) and examinations that I must do myself. But, I can safely say that I managed to do it.
What I did not take into account is at the same time, we also have to fill in our achievements of the year for performance measurement purpose. The performance measurement systems in our institution this year are a little different than last years. We have to put every documentation about our research and community service activities online. Its a lot of work, but I know that it will safe us a lot of time in the future. But, still it means I allocate some time to do it. Another things that we lecturer need to do is to supervise our students, undergraduate and masters students. The time to do this cannot be stated clearly because it in itself is a mini project that depends on the subjects, the students and stakeholders.
In the meantime, the girls are having their semesters break from mid December until 1st January. So, this is where the dilemma kicked in. With some of the works are unfinished, I know it is a little risky to leave for several days. But, all our works (my husband happened to be a lecturer too) are pile up until end of January! If we waited to have a break until then, the girls will have to take several days leave from school. It is really a tough decision to make. My mind go through to other countries, particularly in UK where I have studied before. I remembered that there lecturers have a long break during summer and Christmas-New Year period. Of course, here in Indonesia we have long breaks during Idul Fitri, but it is the only time that coincide with School breaks. We also have several long weekends, but that only work for short vacation.
If only we have more synchronized holiday periods during the end of year, it would really helped us to have more quality time with our family.
Academic life is a quirky life. From the outside it looks as if it was a less stressful job, compared to business jobs. But I am sure that every academics will agree that we also have our trial and tribulations.
Perhaps it is just me? I wrote about how to balance work with family.
Then, the other day I read from LinkedIn, a post from Joos Buijs, a researcher, whose work I have been following for sometime now. I read a lot of his article and I also joined the MOOC on Process Mining that he ran. I am really proud to obtain this certificate.
Joos, with Professors Will M.P. van der Aalst and Colleague at TU/e has helped me and students by providing free open source software to conduct process mining. We looked up to them.
So, reading his post entitled “I (finally) decided to leave academia, here’s why” really intrigued me and I immediately read it from my mobile phone. You can read the article here.
I read it with mix feelings. In one hand, it gives me a confirmation that I am not the only academics that feel this way. But, at the same time I am amazed that everything I have been experiencing also happened to academics in developed country as the Netherland.
He said that the reason he is leaving the academic life is because he must do a lot of management stuffs rather than actually doing what he loves which is data science. It really resonates with me and perhaps my colleague in my department. I love teaching.
I love supervising students.
I love research. I love presenting my works.
I love doing community service.
In fact last year I managed to challenge myself to do community service for micro and small entrepreneurs.
I love it all. But, sometimes we must do a lot of administrative works that are not really related to those stuffs.
One thing that hit me so much is the next paragraph where he explained that he is working long hours per week.
“Secondly, and probably even more important, I do not know of any colleague that is spending <50 hours a week on this job. This is not a bad thing, if you do what you love this comes natural. But for me it is time to do as I say, and really show that “I’m married to my wife, not my boss”. I realized family time was really suffering, and even if I was having a good time in the evening/weekends I could not always enjoy it as much as I wanted to.” (Joos Buijs)
This is exactly what happened to us academics here in Indonesia too. We may work from 8 – 4, to lecture, supervising students and other stuffs. But, when we go back home, we still work in front of our laptops, doing research and sometime administrative works. This sometimes stretch over weekends. I cant remember the last time I went for a holiday without bringing and opening my laptop!
While I wish Joos the best in his future endeavor. It gave me a lot to think of. I love my job so much. But, I cannot afford to love it more than my family.
So how can I love both?
I did not yet have the answers. In the mean time, I try to sneak in family time when possible. Like this time when we brought the girls for a conference in Phuket, Thailand.