What’s a Work Week?

What’s a Work Week?

What’s a work week? While I was growing up it was a 5 day, 40 hour work week. I seem to be working all the time now. Some of my work is a self-imposed expectation and some comes from others. I have been struggling with this as the lines between my work, learning, fun, and volunteering blur.

I work as a K12 tech integration specialist. I support teachers and students using technology effectively in the classroom for learning and collaboration. Part of my responsibility is to explore and research new tools, as well as, write workshop and curricular material.

I learn by reading and writing blogs and wikis. I am always checking out new tutorials. I participate in an awesome learning network through a variety of tools. I attend (also present) conferences and workshops face-to-face and on-line.

I have fun creating and maintaining a family website, searching for and recording family history. I love to make movies, work with photos and use iTunes.

I volunteer in a variety of ways outside of the tech world, but one of my volunteer roles is being a member of the DEN in SL leadership council. This group is VERY active planning weekly workshops, supporting a growing membership (555 at the time of this writing), welcoming new members and participating in a variety of Google groups. Honestly this alone could be a full time job, if we really carried out all that we envisioned.

The blending of work, learning, volunteering and pleasure is not a problem, most of the time. I do it because I enjoy it. I think it is pretty wonderful that I enjoy and love my work. But when it becomes an expectation to maintain this high level of productivity, this is where I have some difficulty.

Recently I spent a few weeks just doing my regular job. I was consumed with other obligations outside of school. During that time I received a few comments about my apparent lack of productivity. This is when it really hit home. Have I been setting myself up to appear a sloth if I just did my job in the time allotted?
These were some of the comment/complaints;

  • I did not answer work related emails in the evening or weekends.
  • I did not respond to some network requests in the time expected.
  • I did not have some materials written quickly enough. I was averaging a 2-3 day turn around instead of 1 because I did not work on them at night as usual.
  • I was not aware of some application updates.

I do believe I did set myself up for this. But I also believe that we are letting technology play a role. Just because we can connect almost instantaneously doesn’t always mean we should, nor should we feel obligated to respond right away. I should take a lesson from Scotty* who always over estimated his repair times. I should tell people how long it would really take to complete a task leaving out nights and weekends, and add a little extra to allow for interruptions and emergencies.

I need to work on defining my boundaries. I am open to suggestions. So how do you make it all work?

*”How long to re-fit?” — Kirk, “Eight weeks. But you don’t have eight weeks, so I’ll do it for you in two.” — Scotty, “Do you always multiply your repair estimates by a factor of four?” — Kirk, “How else to maintain my reputation as a miracle worker?” — Scotty, “Your reputation is safe with me.” — Kirk. From Star Trek III: The Search For Spock

2 thoughts on “What’s a Work Week?

  1. Beth, I can really relate to what you’ve said. I notice most of us (not just edugeeks) are wearing too many hats nowadays. Guess that’s why the media is full of stories on whether multi-tasking is doing us any good or not.

    I too have trouble figuring out where work ends and/or PD and/or personal tech fun begins. (And yes, lately I waste too much time on Twitter.) One thing that “helps” is that about twice a year, when I reach saturation and burnout, I take a sabbatical from as much tech as possible for a couple of weeks. Otherwise, I think you and I are both saying we begin to feel we are working 22 hours a day. At least 8 of those hours are with kids, educators, AND screens at our day jobs, right? But then we must still handle email, feed readers, podcasts, (I wish I was blogging more), networking, research, etc. Besides teaching 6 classes a day and being the help desk at school, I do some training and consulting on the side. I maintain a class web site, a personal web site, and a blog. I travel a few times a year for business. It goes without saying that I am often sleep-deprived, but then again most of our culture is, so what does that mean?

    I also have a mother, son, and DIL here in my town. I have several close friends. I have some strong relationships outside of education and tech. But I find it sad that there is precious little time for them. I try to squeeze them in so I’m not a total web addict or an emotional hermit. (For now let’s not even mention the pounds I’ve put on these last 9 months as I sat in front of these screens instead of exercising …)

    My child is grown and I’m single, so those are two major areas of life I’m excused from for now. I’m so incredibly busy that I’m amazed I ever managed single-parenting or having a romantic relationship. How do others do it? I am alternately impressed with and jealous of my virtual colleagues who appear to LIVE online whilst they have little ones, spouses, etc.

    The reason that we are so consumed may be that–besides the fact that tech wasn’t as available and accessible up until a few years ago–most of us weren’t even trying to construct and maintain virtual PLN’s. These are very valuable pursuits yet they do eat up the hours. I’m hoping that I grow enough professionally from them and contribute enough to others to make the equation come out positively…I’ve met many colleagues, friends, and clients online so I guess it’s working.

    You can see that I haven’t really found any answers or balance yet. I guess the best we can do is to keep re-assessing and re-arranging our priorities so we are not governed by the tyranny of the immediate. Thanks for the post; it’s always good to find we aren’t trudging alone.

  2. Hi Beth,

    You bring up such a valid and timely point. So many of us believe(d???) that technology would facilitate our work (much of it has) and provide us with more leisure time (NOT!). The French have a saying, ‘Les mals du 20ieme siecle’, which roughly translates to ‘the ills of the 20th century’ (now 21st century). What we believed would free up our time has instead created a 24/7/365 always expected to be on environment.

    I too have stuggled recently with the amount of time I spend with technology. I come home after a full day at work and I’m up in my office logging on, come down to fix dinner, eat dinner, then it’s back up on the computer again. Granted, I’ve taken on some additional tasks — developing online courses, teaching online courses. But then I get started reading Twitter and replying, catching up on my RSS readers and before I know it…POOF! 2 hours have passed me by.

    Just as there is no difference to me between PLN Personal Learning Network) and PLN (Professional Learning Network) — I end up calling them my PPLN (Personal/Professional Learning Network — and perhaps I need to add a 3rd ‘P’ for ‘Playful’), there is little difference between what I consider work & play (I’m a K-4 Technology Facilitator) on the computer.

    Have I learned to set boundaries yet? I’m working on it — let’s say it’s still in ‘Beta’ stage! LOL I’m taking it one step at a time. I’m ‘unplugging’ for one day a week (OK, so it’s really only an afternoon! — but it’s a start!). I’m also trying not to commit to any more additional tasks. And believe it or not, I’m coming to rely on my hardcopy agenda again. Something about committing pen (purple, of course) to paper puts it all in perspective for me.

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