Always here…

BlogHer Writing Lab – January Theme: Balance

January 11 – Prompt: Do you feel you have to be available at all times? How has this affected your down time

Keeping work at work is forever a challenge. As an educator, it’s virtually guaranteed that I’ll get messages at all hours of the day and night, not just from students, but from fellow academicians who prescribe to the 80-hour work-week plan.

I can’t do it. So I have rules. I lay these out on my syllabus at the beginning of every course, but I also hold my colleagues to the same standards.

I do not feel obligated to respond to any email appearing in my mailbox after 9pm on a school night (typically Sunday through Thursday night). I start ignoring my mailbox for the weekend at 5pm on Friday and might get back to it around 6 or 7 on Sunday. Or I might not.

I do use Twitter in my courses, and encourage my students to post quick questions to me that way. Those often get a response faster than any e-mail. I also have scheduled ‘Twitter hours’ in the evening, when I know I’ll be online and my students are most likely to have questions about the content of the course.

Does it work?

Yes. More or less. It is still hard to ignore all the messages that hit my mailbox during the down times, especially since I get notifications on my phone. But by laying out rules to my students, it helps me justify ignoring them, and gives me leave to enjoy my evenings and weekends more.

Now if only I could apply similar rules to my family…

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