Patter is now having a few days off over Christmas, as should you.
But I’ve been taken aback by the volume of things I’ve been sent by people who seem to expect that I will be available to write, revise, review and examine over the Christmas period. I’m not the only one, I know, whose had this experience. It seems to be part of the general pattern of the fast university that being away from the office always equates to being still at work. This is really not acceptable. We all need some down time.
The unwelcome requests are symptomatic of the speeding up/sped-up workplaces that universities have become. Academic time appears to be infinitely elastic, stretching out to contain ever more expectations and tasks. And some of us may be complicit with the need to-fit-everything-in. As Mark Carrigan argues:
- Time-pressure can be a symbol of status and flaunting it can represent one of the few socially acceptable forms of conspicuous self-aggrandisement available.
- Time-pressure can reduce the time available for reflexivity, ‘blotting out’ difficult questions in a way analogous to drink and drugs.
- Time-pressure can facilitate a unique kind of focus in the face of a multiplicity of distractions. If we accept that priorities are invested with normative significance (i.e. they matter to us in direct and indirect ways) then prioritisation can be pleasurable. This can take the form of people who rely on deadlines to ensure things get done. More prosaically, it can undercut procrastination by leaving one with finite temporal resources to utilise for non-negotiable obligations.
- Time-pressure can leave us feeling that we are living life most fully. If the good life is now seen as the full life then living fast feels like living fully.
As a well trained “good girl”, this kind of performative buy-in is something I am much too prone to.
However, as it happens, I’m taking a Southern hemisphere break this year and won’t be on deck for most of January. This is actually a postponed Northern summer break because I spent all of the actual summer, such as it was, writing a book.
I’ve got a few posts scheduled so Patter will keep going while I’m away from my desk. You, dear reader, may not even notice I’m not here. And the two doctoral researchers who are trying to submit in January will of course be able to get my immediate attention by email, as will anything from my English house/home.
But everyone else is on notice that I’m not available. Really. Not. Available.
I hope that you too manage to have some time away from work and that the next few days are happy, healthy – and free of email, idiotic last minute demands and unreasonable expectations. Cheers.