No “Guilt Machine,” No Work

No "Guilt Machine," No Work {New Faculty}


The American holiday of Thanksgiving was last week. I took the whole week off. It was luxurious. I had made a giant list before I left town and then forgave myself in advance for not working. I also didn’t bring any laptop home, just my iPad and external keyboard. I like the set up, but it’s not quite as slick on some things and I was sure I wouldn’t have any huge emergencies come up.

In not working all week, I observed several things: I went hiking with the dogs every day. I went to the barn and helped my mom feed calves several times, I made breakfast for everyone each morning, and whatever else we were eating, I made Thanksgiving dinner, and I had very little worry about it. Maybe taking my laptop is my silent trigger. When it goes in the bag, it’s more than a computer, it’s a “guilt machine.”

My sister came home Wednesday night and she was working on the holiday and again on Friday. I didn’t envy her one bit. I know she had a lot of stuff to get done and the nature of her work is much different than mine. I can empathize with her but it made me very glad I was not in that boat. The situation could have been reversed if I’d had a grant due or some looming deadline, but thankfully I didn’t. I sent out an article the day before our break began and had my classes ready to roll for post-break. I’m sitting at a local coffee shop chugging (sipping daintily) a mocha, chowing down on a piece of something strudel-rific and have a few more grants to review for another project this afternoon. Leisurely time for once. When the students come back to begin tomorrow, I’ll be ready.

By not engaging with my Mac (AKA: the guilt machine), it allowed me to engage in other things that are much more important. Don’t get me wrong, I can play some games on my iPad and stalk social media with the best of them, but it was a purely psychological undoing. I’m going to keep trying to not bring my guilt machine with me when I know my odds at getting work done are slim but also understand I’ll need to tow it around sometimes too. It’s taken me four years to get some clarity and this was one week. I’ll consider this a “W” and keep moving forward to the end of the semester.

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