One of the biggest perks of being a teacher/professor is having all the same holidays that we grew up with and got very used to. One of the biggest downsides, though, is that work tends to follow you home, even on vacations. And when you have three different teaching jobs, there’s just no way to avoid working when you are technically on holiday.
So here’s how I am coping.
- Music. I always play music when I work, so this one might be cheating a little. But when I want to feel like I’m on vacation, I pick a dreamy playlist, something primarily instrumental so I don’t get too distracted but still inspiring. I love soundtracks. I can be transported to another world while I’m still stuck at my desk grading paper number 5,301.Okay, I don’t have that many papers. But it feels like it.
Right now, I’m lost in the lovely soundscape of period drama soundtracks, Ralph Vaughan Williams, and classical hymn renditions.
- Tea. A mug of hot tea makes everything better. For me, a cup of sweet and spicy chai tricks my brain into thinking that I’m not working at all. I’m in a little world of warm, spicy joy.And on a cold day like today, is there any excuse to be without a cup of tea nearby? I don’t think so.
- A Window. I don’t have a window in my office at work, but when I’m home, there’s no reason not to enjoy a little natural light and color. My desk is set up at a window with a beautiful tree taking up most of the view and a glimpse of the sky above. One look out that window and I feel like I’ve somehow escaped drudgery. Is it really work if you have tea, music, a view…?
- A furry companion. Okay, I am compelled to be honest. Bella is not a snuggly companion who cuddles happily in my lap while I work. Yes, her fur is a thick and ridiculously soft, and her ears are like velvet, and cuddling her is a delight.Except she hates every minute of it and begrudges you every ounce of joy you take from petting her (Is it terrible that I enjoy teasing my cranky bunny?). She will deign to allow me to scritch her forehead and between her ears if she’s feeling particularly benevolent. I privately like to think she enjoys cuddles more than she let’s on; she just doesn’t want me to know it.
But what I love about having Bella living next to my desk in the library is that I can talk to her (like a crazy person, but I don’t care). I tell her about the silly things my students write and ask her questions and comment on her twitchy nose and she keeps me company in her own ancient, crabby bunny way.
- Blankets and stay-at-home clothes. To me, vacation is being able to wear your pyjamas all day. Cuddling up in a mess of blankets wearing my most comfortable PJ’s makes grading papers feel only slightly workish. And sometimes I even get a little knitting done between papers. On a chilly day, knitting a blanket over myself feels very rewarding, and when I’m grading papers, I need that little brain break to keep me going.
What’s your favorite way to make work feel less workish? Right now, I’m feeling pretty good about my day, even if there are still a couple dozen papers between me and tomorrow’s Thanksgiving feast!