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12/05/2014

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Marcus Arvan

Hi Trevor: I *totally* agree on the sleep thing. A consistent 8 hours of sleep does absolute wonders all around--for mood, motivation, mental clarity, etc.

Elisa Freschi

Hi Trevor, I am not sure I am following. In the linked post, you spoke of taking holidays of *max.* 2 weeks. Here you seem to imply that they should be at least 2 weeks long, or am I misunderstanding something?

Anyway, as you rightly point out, one has to discover one's own rules and there is no one-size-fits-all kind of rules. As for me, I work 8 hours per day, between 8.30 to 5 pm and then have a long break dedicated to family. I may still answer some emails or the like at home or over the weekend, but I do not (manage to) do anything substantive. While on holiday, I am rigorously off-line (all my colleagues know about it and are informed in advance) and it is a great feeling to know that I cannot be reached by people who think their problems are urgent.

Trevor Hedberg

Hi, Elisa. Thanks for your comment. After giving the old post a reread, I can see how the two posts look like they might be in tension with one another, so let me clarify.

In part of that older post, I was thinking about the problem of taking too much time away from philosophy. In my own experience, more than 2 weeks away without doing any philosophy can make it pretty tough to get back into the routine of research and teaching when the next semester arrives. So I suggested the following general rule: "never totally disconnect from philosophy for more than 2 weeks." This rule isn't inconsistent with taking longer vacations, but it does imply that when my vacation lasts more than 2 weeks, I try to start squeezing a little research or teaching prep into my daily routine - not a lot but enough so that I don't start to get rusty. To give an example, my upcoming vacation on winter break will last about 3 weeks. I expect to do very little (if any) philosophy those first 2 weeks, but I plan to start prepping my course for next semester when week 3 of my vacation begins.

Fritz Allhoff

Gosh, I would have thought 60 hours/week is a manageable number. Between publishing, teaching, administration, advising, grant work, etc., there's just a ton of stuff to do. Plus the evening cut-offs just don't work, e.g., for visiting speakers, department functions, etc.

I have colleagues that I'm sure don't work 20 hours/week, but the job really is what you make out of it. I'd be bored with a job that didn't invite this kind of investment and certainly don't think people should be scared off by it. But, again, people can fashion different sorts of lives out of the profession, including "taking it easy" and working shorter hours.

I'd caution against ending at 4 and only working 35 hours/week, either of which might be in violation of labor contracts or state law (e.g., at public universities). I don't think philosophy should be about doing less work; the work's part of the fun.

Trevor Hedberg

Thanks for sharing your perspective, Fritz. I imagine there are a significant number of philosophers who feel the same way. I certainly know a few who don't seem to mind working for 60 hours a week. But for me, 60+ hours per week was more than I would want to consistently endure. I'm only conscious for 112 hours per week, and when I was devoting more than half those hours to philosophical work, I was always teetering on the edge of burnout. I also have not detected any perceptible decline in productivity when I work fewer hours per week. (I typically work around 50 per week.) I suspect this is because I can work more effectively when I am well-rested and in better spirits.

Rachel McKinnon

Very few schools have 'residency' requirements that one be *at work* for 40hrs/week. I suspect that's what you're referring to, Fritz. Otherwise, how can they possibly know how many hours a week one actually works? There's no way to tell how much work someone does at home, at a coffee shop, at the dog park, etc. So I think the 'state school labor contract' worry is not a serious one unless one's employer actually requires one be *at work* for 40hrs/week.

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