Tag Archives: work-life balance

The misplaced responsibility of the outside-work-hours email

Warning: I’m a bit cranky today.

Late last month, I dashed off a quick email to someone I work with – and was a bit chastened to get an autoreply “I’m out of the office for Thanksgiving”.  It was just another Thursday afternoon for me, but I’d forgotten that it was Thanksgiving in the U.S. (Thanksgiving comes six weeks earlier here in Canada; by the end of November, there isn’t much left in the fields to harvest and be thankful for.)  It’s not hard to find people arguing passionately that one should never email people outside work hours.  The argument is that it shows disrespect for work-life balance, suggesting either that the sender doesn’t manage their own work-life balance, or that they expect the recipient not to manage theirs.

I think the argument is wrong.  Not because work-life balance isn’t important – it is!  But proscriptions on when you send emails are neither a necessary nor a possible way to encourage it. Continue reading

Man working on the beach

Working on “vacation”

Photo: Working on the beach, © Yuvipanda CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia.org. Not a photo of me – you couldn’t pay me enough to sit on a beach, working or no.

I took a 2-week vacation this summer.  I packed some Dick Francis mystery novels, sunscreen, my swimsuit – and a half-dozen theses and manuscripts to work on.

I gather I’m not supposed to do that last part. Continue reading

Statue of Oliver Goldsmith

Lessons from three role models

Warning: a little saccharine. My inner curmudgeon took the day off.

A couple of months ago I was interviewed for the People Behind the Science podcast.  Midway through, the host asked me about my role models – and it was a question I had to think about.  That’s because the best role models aren’t obvious; they don’t broadcast “look what I do” or ham up their behaviour in an attempt to be modeled.  This very subtlety is what makes them effective, at least for me. I’ve never taken overt advice terribly well, and too-obvious role modeling just seems like advice with a touch of condescension.

But even though I had to think about it, of course I’ve had role models.  Plenty of them – but there are three I remember often. Continue reading