I just came back from a vacation with my family. This was meant to be the time for some family fun, relaxation, and, most of all, not working.
While I dutifully activated my extended absence voicemail greeting and an "Out of Office" automatic email response, and could have therefore easily disconnected from the mother ship, I did not do so. In reality, I checked my work email several times a day. I reviewed 3 papers (only the most urgent ones though), several of my students' write-ups (various reports and abstracts), corresponded with two of my incoming graduate students about courses and paperwork, as well as reviewed final pre-submission versions of two manuscripts and one preproposal (a.k.a. white paper) on which I am a coauthor. Amidst all the frolicking in the pool and chasing my kids, I am also ashamed to say I spent a fair amount of time thinking about a proposal I need to submit shortly.
I totally have a workoholism problem. And perhaps an Internet addiction problem. It's hard to tell them apart, really.
Last year on vacation, I tried to wean myself completely: didn't bring my laptop and was determined to spend the entire vacation without checking my email even once. But doing so is like quitting smoking -- if those with whom you hang out smoke too, it is very hard to stop. I cannot get my husband to go Internet-free for any significant amount of time. He is not crazy about checking work email, but he plays online games and is a much more eclectic surfer than I am; at the end of the day, most of what I think, write, and surf about is science: doing science, funding science, being a woman in science... My name is GMP and I am a workaholic. And a dork.
My last-year's attempt to go unplugged bombed. I first cheated with a prehistoric computer I found next to the reception desk -- no doubt for the likes of me suffering from web withdrawal. After a few days of sneaking to the reception, I gave in, admitted failure to unplug to the world -- i.e., to my husband, who then gave me a smug "I told you so" -- and I demanded time on the hubby's laptop.
This year I didn't even attempt a reprise of the "Great Vacation Unplugging", as I knew I couldn't do it. However, I was hoping that spending time with the kids and plenty of books would be enough to help me detach. I spent a lot of time with the kids and loved it, but a number of kid-centric activities such as diaper changing, fixing meals, or watching Spongebob reruns are mind-numbing, so I was free to engage in pursuits of the mind in the background. None of the books, which all came highly recommended, were able to completely captivate me. So I ended up spending a lot of time thinking about work and doing work...
Anyone else out there suffering from inability to detach from work? Or simple email addiction? My guess is these are quite widespread and often interwoven. I invite you to share some of your best practices for getting unplugged and recharging. (Isn't it ironic how "recharging" requires one to "unplug"?)
Do you think a constant focus on work gives you an edge over the peers who get to relax? Or is it, beyond a shadow of a doubt, nothing more than a one-way ticket to Burnoutville?