When I sometimes complain about the corporate style work environment in a research institute compared to universities I tend to forget that this job also comes with it's perks. As much as I loathe the punching in and out and the lack of spontaneous flexibility, the fact that we are actually counting overtime and being encouraged to take it off is no bad treat. We count all hours we are at work and no hours for work done at home. This system sucks in many ways, I think, as it encourages people to stay inside the building even if they are not doing anything or are tired and unproductive and would get more done by moving to a coffee-shop or going home to take a nap and continue later. BUT we also count all hours away on job related travel, and for field work people this means that we rack up loads and loads of hours each year. One reason we often don't get around to taking all this time off is of course that we wouldn't be able to get all the work done if we were away on vacation for half of the year, and many people end up never getting this extra time. But for someone like me, who is generally longing for more flexible days and possibilities to work at home or basically anywhere outside my office, this system is actually great.
So I'm taking Thursdays off work. I'm taking out overtime hours to stay at home and since I'm officially not working I can do whatever I please. I might work some, but from home, or I might sleep the whole day and work some other evening or Sunday or whenever it fits. It gives me some of the freedom I have been dreaming about, it cuts my week in two and I don't need to feel bad about it, because I did officially earn the right to take this time off. It also has the added benefit of seeming extremely enthusiastic and hard-working if I do decide to reply to a work email or pop by at work on a home day.
So what did I do with this lovely day of freedom. Well, first I went to a day-time yoga class (strangely exotic to me by know to do anything in the city during the day), then I met with a friend for lunch and dress shopping*, spent the afternoon watching some lame TV (also become increasingly exotic to me these days) while browsing blogs, cooked a nice dinner, spent a lot of time searching for the perfect laptop backpack online and attended a bit to this poor too-often- neglected blog of mine. I didn't do a thing work related, except getting involved in a weird email conversation with a future senior colleague at New University who sent me a rude email and has apparently decided to dislike me, although he has never met me.
* The dress-shopping was a long-planned event and I bought this gorgeous latino-inspired dress, that fits me perfectly. The photo doesn't really show it's true beauty, but I almost didn't want to take it off in the shop. Now I can't wait for the upcoming christmas party season.
Labels: balancing work and life, playtime