This week Prof-likeSubstance posted a description of how his current load of grant writing, manuscript preparation, teaching, advising and service work is turning him into a workaholic. This is something many people on the tenure track in the sciences go through. Particularly prior to obtaining significant extramural funding. The TT is hard work.
But tenure isn't everything. I recently asked "how much do you need to want it?":
When I was a postdoc and while on the tenure-track (TT) I met several senior faculty who wore the divorces they went through while on TT as badges of honor. Their answer to the above question was clearly “more than anything else”. To which I had (and have) one response:
Thankfully such senior faculty are going the way of the dinosaurs (although some do still exist).
I have never believed this. And neither should anyone. One shouldn’t sacrifice family, relationships and/or having a life on the altar of tenure. It’s simply not worth that much.
It's all a balance of course. One doesn't start on the TT unless one really, really wants to succeed. It's too damn hard to get the opportunity in the first place. On the other hand, burning yourself out trying to make tenure doesn't make much sense either. My only advice to PlS and others on the TT is to ask themselves what's really important.
It is absolutely vital to occasionally step away from the madness and get some perspective. It won't change what you need to do, but it will help you better deal with it.
And as CPP noted:
Once your lab reaches a certain size, if you recruit trainees properly, it requires a lot *less* time and effort than when you are first getting started. Now, I *never* need to work nights, weekends, or holidays.
It will get better.