On Being Selfish

Day 8 of #100DaysToOffload

I have taken to seizing mornings for my own work. This is a bit of a change, given that for years I had trouble setting aside this time.

I had heard this age old writing advice... and work advice too I suppose: Pay yourself first.

I didn't take this advice when I started as a young academic. Or at least I thought I was taking that advice but I really wasn't. I was sidetracked far too often taking care of stuff for students, responding to emails, or tending to departmental business because of far too much “service” for a young faculty member. In academia, that's not your work. That's the other stuff. Even and especially when your “colleagues” lay it upon you. Family obligations, errands, the demands of young children, ate away further.

It has been the rare pleasure of having mornings carved out for research or writing. By this time it is too little, too late for my previous life.

This past year I have been more serious, more religious about this time in the morning. Nothing scheduled before a certain time, under any circumstances. That's a luxury, so I shrink away from it instinctively. It feels... selfish. That time for me (!?) to work on my stuff... that is too selfish. You mean I should sometimes just work on the things that are a benefit to me, in my career and in my endeavors and my projects? That's so selfish.

But of course it's not selfish. It's necessary.

I needed to have understood the second part of that wisdom.

Pay yourself first. Because no one else will.