Reverse vacation time

When people ask me, during the academic year, whether I am looking forward to the summer break, I respond with an emphatic yes. Perhaps counterintuitively, I look forward to summer because it’s the time I get work done — it is sort of a reverse vacation time.

Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy teaching. Yet it is a position that carries with it significant responsibility. Students spend quite a bit of time and money to take my class, and I need to make sure they get the most value out of it. That tends to take a lot of attention and focus.

But during the summer, my research students and I get to just make stuff. We can explore and play, experiment, go off in new directions, try out crazy hypotheses, all without distraction. Summer is the time when I tend to work the hardest, but it’s an incredibly enjoyable sort of work.

And that paradigm extends to weekends. Today I went into the lab — just me and a few students — and we got a tremendous amount of work done. It was fun and productive, and my mood at the end of the day was a mix of satisfaction and delight.

So you could say that this pattern of reverse vacation time repeats within itself: weekends are to weekdays as summer is to the school year.

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