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Taking time away from research

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In our most recent "how can we help you?" thread, Ash writes: I'm not sure if you've covered this already, but.... When do you think a person is "allowed" to take time away from research? My list of papers-in-progress is long and so I more or less always think I should be working on one of them, whenever I have a spare moment (i.e. a moment not devoted to fulfilling other obligations). But right now I have a couple of hours to kill and yet I'm not doing research. I'm tired. I have a young child. I had 4 campus visits this semester and each one was fatiguing to prepare for and to go through. I'm teaching (albeit with a light load). How do you decide when to rest and when to push through? These are great questions, ones I have asked myself from time to time. In fact, I would be very interested to hear answers to them, as I haven't been able to answer them well myself. When I was on the job-market (like Ash, it seems), I felt like I didn't have the luxury to take a break from anything. I basically worked myself into the ground on everything--research, teaching, and service--in the hope that the hard work would pay off and I would get a tenure-track job. Now that I was fortunate enough to get one, things are different. Because my teaching and service load are pretty heavy, I typically don't have much time for research during the academic year: I do the vast majority of my research during summer and winter breaks, and usually look forward to it. However, if I've had an especially busy year, sometimes I really feel like I "need a break" (much as Ash describes in their case). And it's precisely here that I run into trouble. My own experience is that whenever I feel like I need a break, I've become so socialized to work all of the time--and to expect myself to work all of the time--that whenever I try to take a break, I begin to feel uneasy and listless--as though I should be working. Then I. . .

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News source: The Philosophers' Cocoon

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