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SRAI Off the Clock

By SRAI News posted 04-13-2023 09:13 AM


SRAI Off the Clock

We would like to reframe The Secret Life of a Research Administrator column into SRAI Off the Clock.  When we started the Secret Life column, we wanted to hear more about the hobbies and interests of our members. We still want to hear about those things but realize that this might include everyday activities we do that aren't very secret or hidden.  It’s the things that we do outside of work to balance the stress of our careers.  

And it is stressful.  At the Florida Research Administrators Conference in 2022 there was a session focused on perceived work stress in our field. Even before the pandemic, we were concerned about burnout and rising turnover rates. Since the pandemic, we’ve watched colleagues leave the field and move to other institutions or other positions in hopes of a better fit and a better balance.

So, what are you doing off the clock to find that elusive work-life balance? It’s probably not just one thing.  Share them all with us!  We’d love to hear about them.  I’m one of those people who moved across the country in 2020 during the pandemic. I chose to move my mom and I closer to one of my best friends. Her parents had also moved here a couple of years before me.  And her brother moved here when he separated from the military a year or so before me. We have quite the village.

My friend’s dad picks up her two daughters from school twice a week and it became a habit that he cooked dinner for the girls and my friend. When my mom and I first moved here, we were living with my friend, and they invited us to join their dinners. A tradition was born!  We now have Family Dinner every Thursday. Sometimes it’s only four or five of us depending on who’s traveling where, but when we’re all in town, our numbers grow to 10 on a regular basis. And dinner changes houses, but it generally goes back and forth between my friend’s parents’ house and mine.

We cook mostly from scratch, and we enjoy a few bottles of “adult grape juice” along with the meal. My mom likes to bake, so scratch made sweets are normally on the menu as well. The time together, and the sharing of food and laughter have become very important to all of us. It’s become the one day a week that I actually close up shop and leave work at 5 o’clock on the dot.  

I didn’t realize this was something that had become part of my work-life balance until I noticed that it was the only day of the week that I left work “on time” and didn’t feel guilty about it. I enjoy the cooking and table set up as much as I enjoy the family time. Now, if only I could order a set of Disney dishes that would sing and clean themselves at the end of the evening, it would be true perfection.

Submit to the Catalyst and tell us about your Off the Clock hobbies and interests!

Authored by Heather Brown, Grants and Contracts Administrator
Duke Human Vaccine Institute

#SRAIOfftheClock  ​​​​​​​​​