Monday, March 30, 2020

The Never Ending Workday

Lamb Chop started singing "this is a song that never ends.  Yes, it goes on and on, my friends.  Some people started singing it, not knowing what it was.  And they'll continue singing it forever just because . . ."

For some, that brought back childhood memories.  For others, it describes the new daily routine.  Students need help transitioning to online learning, and they have legitimate questions about upcoming bar exams, grading, academic standing, finals, etc.  The listservs buzz with non-stop information.  Law school faculties are debating different options for student questions, and most of us still have our normal teaching load along with administrative tasks.  Not to mention, some of us are also parents and newly homeschooling, with varying degrees of success and marker damage.  Shelter in place orders combined with the flood of obligations have created the never ending workday.

Everyone has a different home setup.  I assume that some people cannot sequester to an office and let freedom reign in the rest of the house.  To solve that problem, my "office" is the kitchen counter where I can see a large area of my house.  My laptops and binders are on the counter.  The easy accessibility and non-stop problems means when I go to get the 8 o'clock snack, I can answer a handful of emails.  Answering emails is easy on my laptop.  I don't have the excuse that long emails are hard on my phone, so just a few quick emails.  I also need to record a quick video for class, so that is right at my fingertips.  Midnight snack and clear email.  Seems efficient and is probably common now.  Those actions will also drain us of both our physical and emotional energy right before the summer, which may or may not include the bar exam.  Now is the time to conserve energy, not over-expend it.

Weight loss experts tell people to get snacks out of sight because out of sight, out of mind.  James Clear in Atomic Habits says we can create habits by placing reminder items near an already existing habit.  Need to workout?  Put workout gear near where you change after work.  Need to take medicine?  Put the bottle near the coffee pot.  The psychology of habits is creating part of my problem.  I see my laptop and know I can send emails fast.  I answer a few.  I know recording an answer analysis takes 10 minutes, so I do it.  And I will continue working forever, just because . . .

We all know breaks are necessary.  We tell students to take breaks while studying.  Most of us can spout off the mental health benefits of only studying in certain locations.  If anything in the post describes you (it does me), then we also need to take our own advice.  This is a unique time, and our family, students, and friends need us fully charged.  We can't do that by working non-stop.  Let's try to put away work objects to end our workday when it is supposed to end.

(Steven Foster)

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/academic_support/2020/03/the-never-ending-workday.html

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