"How do I fit my academic job into a 37 hour week? I don’t, I couldn’t possibly because this job is impossible to do/ complete/ control. But I am not willing to give my life to it or work longer hours unpaid, so here are 10 ways I survive:
1. Cut corners - I speed read (badly), I make quick decisions, I don’t read papers before a meeting, I delete emails based on the subject heading alone.
2. Don’t over prepare teaching - I have to ad lib sometimes, I limit my prep time deliberately, I do my best in the limited time available, I only try one new technique a year, I don’t dwell on a bad lecture/ seminar/ evaluation.
3. Teach the way I like - if it is enjoyable for me I hope my students will feel enthused, I don’t waste time trying to teach like others (I try to be accessible + inclusive but see pt.2)
4. Time my marking - I give each essay/ exam the time my Uni pays me to mark it (which is not a lot).
5. Avoid others’ agendas - I am cautious of being pulled into things, I take my time before agreeing to invitations/ collaborations/ favours.
6. Allocate realistic time to tasks in my calendar - I know what has to be done each week and when I am going to do it. When this gets disrupted I know what time needs to be taken from something/ somewhere else or cancelled
7. Do my share of admin - but don’t do it all, push back on bureaucracy, prioritise the things that will make a difference to the department, staff, students. Ignore some demands/ meetings/ emails.
8. Do just enough - I made a list of things I dislike doing but have to do (like grant applications) or find time consuming (like conferences) and have a yearly target. Once reached I do no more.
9. Allocate days either to teaching + admin OR research. They don’t mix.
10. Spend time on the nourishing parts of the job - I protect and cherish reading + writing days, enjoy face to face teaching + supervison, love fieldwork, and find chatting and laughing with colleagues vital."
Full thread and subsequent discussion below (on Twitter):
How do I fit my academic job into a 37 hour week? I don’t, I couldn’t possibly because this job is impossible to do/ complete/ control. But I am not willing to give my life to it or work longer hours unpaid, so here are 10 ways I survive: 1/11— prof jenny pickerill (@JennyPickerill) April 16, 2018
Related blog post by the same author: Career advice: how to work a 37-hour week