Don’t Get Overloaded by “Opportunities”

A half-dozen academics have contributed brief essays to a collection at Times Higher Education on how to handle the academic workload and how to appropriately manage their time—especially in regards to accepting or declining various “opportunities.”

Some choice quotes:

“Why don’t you just say no, non-academic friends asked? Because, I explained, when you don’t have job security, you can’t afford to. Even, they persisted, when saying no will allow you to publish the papers you need to achieve this security? Sadly, yes.”

“For most scholars, the idea of managing time sounds perplexing. That is because there are only two kinds of time: time when one is thinking about research at the front of one’s mind, and time when one is thinking about research at the back of one’s mind. The bottom line in academia is really just a question: how much stress can you tolerate in life? That will dictate how you manage your activities.”

“The point is to support each other in the fine art of saying no. It is not about avoiding the responsibilities and reciprocities of academic life – the wheels of peer review, external examination, research assessment and the rest must keep turning. It is, rather, about recognising our capacities and limits.”

“My liberation was to realise that much of what your day consists of can be reconfigured, that deadlines are largely self-imposed procrastination limits and that we are not uniformly productive.”

“Number one is not to check email in the morning; email has a habit of setting the day’s agenda for you, instead of being but one of the tasks you need to address.”

The set of essays is here.

matrix bullet dodge


Beyond the Ivory Tower. Workshop for academics on writing short pieces for wide audiences on big questions. Taking place October 18th to 19th. Application deadline July 30th. Funding provided.
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