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December 3, 2004

Work-life balance? What work-life balance?

I have a deadline coming up at work next week, so I've just put in a couple of 12+-hour days. I've known for a while that work-things would be in a range anywhere from slightly overwhelming to completely unmanageable starting after Thanksgiving, but because of circumstances completely beyond my control (no, really!), I couldn't do anything but just watch it coming and dread its arrival. Not that I'm generally anything less than a world-class procrastinator, but this time, I really couldn't have made things any easier on myself. The necessary tools were just not in place.

Now the dark time is here, and while the workload is just as staggering as I had expected, I'm coping well, even feeling strangely optimistic. I'm reminded of the 1999 holiday season, which I spent working a second job at a Calendar Club store in an attempt to save up for wedding expenses. Though not particulary onerous, the work was not exactly enjoyable. But I happily spent three or four evenings a week plus weekends at it, because I was working toward an important goal. I feel the same way now: I don't mind working long hours, and in fact, I'm invigorated because I know how important my work is (within its context), and because I know it must get done.

(As an aside, this is also how I've completed nearly every paper I've ever written -- which must explain why I've never managed to sustain anything longer than about 25-30 pages. I could never find the necessary spark to motivate myself to write hard when something absolutely critical wasn't riding on it. That, my friends, is why I'd never be able to finish a dissertation.)

So I hope this odd obsession/euphoria lasts, because the worst of this is not going to be over for me until mid-January. Clearly, I'm going to need something more to keep me going than my usual stimulants: caffeine and fear of failure.

Posted by at December 3, 2004 9:43 PM