Burn, Baby Burn!

Isn’t it interesting how you don’t realize how hard you’ve been working until you aren’t working anymore?

I have been working my tail off for a year and a half. And when I say working, I really mean it. I once did the math… in a four-day week, I worked 90 hours. That’s three meals a day at work, never seeing the sun, more than two full-time jobs, run you into the ground type of work.

It has been paying off. The band program is growing in size and in ability. I have great support from my administration and faculty, the students are performing well (our marching band gained straight “Superior” ratings at marching band assessment, and finished 12th in our class in the state), and we are looking forward to the spring season. By almost all accounts, the countless hours of work have been paying off.

Almost all accounts.

I could have written this post in early November. On a weekend where my mom came in to visit, and spent the whole time watching me with my students because we had marching band rehearsal Wednesday and Thursday, a choir concert Friday, TWO marching band competitions in ONE DAY on Saturday (thanks, Sandy…), and a band concert Monday.

I could have written this post in mid-October, when we had marching band three nights per week and booster meetings/fundraising events the other two, followed by our first competition on a Saturday and another fundraiser Sunday.

But I am writing it now. Why? Because I finally can!

I fully recognize that I am choosing to commit this much time to my work. It would be completely reasonable for me to tone it back. Not to the typical 40-hours a week; I never expected to have that type of work schedule. Maybe 70 would be reasonable…

But I love what I do.

Am I burned out? A little bit. It has been a long and trying semester. I’m way behind on grading, I still have a few important things on the to-do list, but I’m giving myself a week to do absolutely nothing. I need it, and my students will be glad I did it when I return to school in a week and a half, revitalized by having some time off just as they are.

I am okay with the hours that I work. I am okay with the stress I put myself under. Because I love what I do.

How do I know that I’m doing what I love? I only now have realized how hard I was working. Now that I have been sitting around for two days, only leaving home to see Les Miserables and buy Chinese Food yesterday (as a part of my Jewish obligation to see movies and eat crappy takeout Chinese on Christmas…). I never had any idea there were so many hours in a day!

Will I tone it back a bit? Probably. I do love my job, but I know if I keep up at this pace, I won’t make it through a whole semester.

I’m going to try to work smarter, not harder. There will always be time to commit, but if I can get everything done while I have to be at school, there won’t be as many late nights or long weekends. Who knows, I might even have enough time to update this website regularly!

Until then, I will douse the flames of my near-burn-out in e-books, college football games, New Year’s celebrations, and sleep, while I look forward to getting to go back to doing what I do best.


2 thoughts on “Burn, Baby Burn!

  1. Bravo, Andy. Congratulations on your first year and a half. I am sure you have much to be proud of. Working smarter starts with taking a break and it sounds like you are well on your way to doing that this week. Working smarter may also mean working less. That might be a funny thing coming from me, someone who works all the time, but you’ll start to make choices that serve you best. You have many people to bounce ideas off of and get support to make smart choices about what to spend your time on. Start deciding on boundaries and make choices at work. Congrats and I look forward to seeing you in February!

  2. Andy – What fun it is to hear your “tales from the front.” Now you know what your teachers were busy doing all those years that you were the student. My girls were both in band in high school, so I have a great appreciation for the additional time you give to your students to prepare them for competitions and concerts. 

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