Throwntogetherness

or, the juxtaposition of previously unrelated trajectories

How much is enough? Setting some limits on ‘voluntary’ academic work for the new year

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So much of our time as academics is self-managed. Obviously, I need to turn up to class prepared, and I need to be around often enough to having meetings with my students and colleagues and various committees. And we have to answer stupid amounts of emails. But my day-to-day tasks are mostly in my own hands, including a whole lot of semi-voluntary work that keeps the university and the publishing world going. I admit up front that I am a ‘yes’ person — I am much more likely to say ‘yes’ to any invitation than ‘no’, even if it is not sensible. This can mean I end up having other people’s priorities setting my agenda rather than my own, my family, or those of less extroverted friends and colleagues. Every year, I try and do some work on being more intentional about the things I say yes to.

Early on in my academic career I came across this post by a Harvard tenure-track mum who reframed her job as ‘the awesomest 7-year postdoc’ and released herself from the some of the more ridiculous demands of the job. The post is worth reading in full because it has some great thoughts on women in academia, shared parenting and more. But one of the things that stuck in my mind was the fact she specified a limited amount of ‘voluntary’ activities in her year, and after she reached that number, began saying no. She doesn’t lay out how many of each thing she has, except to say how many international, inter-state and local conferences her and her partner agree on each year. I’ve loosely followed the model, agreeing to no more than two international trips a year for example, and taking up only one invitation for writing chapters for edited books per year.

This year, I decided to be even more intentional and lay out how many of each thing were going to work for me over the next 3 or 4 years. I found this post by Helen Lovatt helpful as a starting point. I began with her numbers, then backdated my table to 2015 to see how I was tracking against what she suggests. I then added in columns for 2017 and 2018 to pay attention to what was coming up (conference organising, for example) and things I have already committed to.

Here’s my effort at planning out my academic life. Please note my privilege in no particular order: I have a manageable teaching load, I have no commute, my husband does most of the childcare, cooking and shopping, I’m white, in a permanent position, in a faculty of science, and recently got a promotion and don’t need to apply for another 5 years or so. On the less privileged side: I am a woman, a mother of young children, a one-income family, a qualitative researcher in a faculty of science, I have very limited research and travel funding, and I’m in New Zealand where international travel costs are high. Also, the frequencies are not targets, but maximums. I’m not really sure if these are good numbers or not. But thought I would share and see if anyone else has thoughts.

Frequency (MAX)
2015
2016
2017
2018
Book Reviews
1/year
1
0
1
Refereeing Book Manuscripts/
grants
1/year
0
1
Refereeing Articles
2/for every article I submit
3
3
Editing Books/special issues
1/5 years
0
0
1
Monographs
1/10 years
0
0
1
PhD Examinations
1/year
0
0
External Reviews of Curricula
1/year
0
1
Leadership Roles in Committees/
National Bodies
2 at a time
2
2
2
1
Overnight Conferences (Domestic)
2/year
1
1
Conferences (International)
1/year
1
1
Other international Trips
1/year
2
1
1
Service Roles/
Committees in University
2/year
1
3
3
Organising Conferences
1/5 years
0
0
0
1
School talks/local talks
2/year
(1/semester )
2
2
New Teaching Modules
2 /year
(1/semester )
2
2
0 (10%revised)
Grant applicationsĀ 
2/year
1
4
1
first/co authored Articles
2/year
1
3
2
Other articles (response pieces, 3rd author, or with students)
2/year
1
1
PhD/Masters primary supervisions 2/masters per year, 4 PhDs at one time 1 PhD 2 Masters, 5 PhDs 2 Masters, 5 PhDs 4 PhDs
Chapters in edited books incl handbooks
1/year
1
1
Popular articles/
magazines
Flexible, depending on pay, timing, and work
1

 

 

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This entry was posted on January 4, 2017 by in Blogroll, Working in Academia and tagged , , , , .
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