As some of my posts indicate there are times when I feel as buried under work as anyone. And I am sure you can attest to feeling the same:
– not enough hours to finish the work waiting
– thinking about work while you should be engrossed in family, friends
– feeling stressed and perhaps even low confidence because it seems you cant cope
These things are increasingly happening to academics. In the UK, the employment contracts many of us sign do not stipulate maximum working hours or exact duties. Instead we are meant to perform the taks considered necessary/relevant to our role by our employer. the time we spend performing these tasks is also in some ways implicitly decided by our employer.
Where does this leave us if we are over burdened?
The situation seems the same in every university: (junior staff especially) academic staff toiling away to teach several courses, while trying to establish themselves as research supestars. Then there is the admin work…In order to cut costs, staff are fired and the work redistributed amongst fewer staff members, who somehow are supposed to do more with less (less time, less rest, less resources).
Apply for grants, publish in top journals, get excellent teaching scores from students, publish a book, do the admin… the list is endless.
In trying to achieve these targets we put in ever increasing hours. Holidays are of shorter duration every year and some how the work laptop finds a way ito come on even during weekends, late nights and holidays.
There is no overtime money from the employer for any of this. No one from the Higher Education authority or any emplyment body/union to hold these employers to account.
Now this may seem like a rant and a moan (it is). But it also more.
It is upto us to not fall into this trap. While we may not all be able to walk up with our resignation lettter and walk into a better job, we can assert some control over our minds.
Our anxiety at not being able to do as much as we think is needed, is perhaps our biggest problem. If we can step back from the situation and the anxiety to objectively view things, we can make better decisions about our goals and how to achieve them.
I read an article recently which I found quite useful: http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/features/feature-work-less-do-more-live-better/2014929.article
In my view we need and deserve to be treated more fairly by employers, a complete change in attitude is needed in educations. While we work towards this, we can also make changes in our individual lifestyles, thinking and perhaps self-management to help ourselves.