Post Academic

A Ban on Busywork

Posted in Transfer Your Skills by Caroline Roberts on February 11, 2011
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Image Source,Photobucket Uploader Firefox ExtensionLately, I’ve been hearing a lot of people talk about how exhausted they are. I know how it is. I’m still catching up on all the sleep I lost from recent cross-country trips. I’m still not even sure which state I’m in. But I started thinking about why people get exhausted. Sometimes, you can’t avoid it, but most of the time, you can avoid it by eliminating the biggest scourge in the workplace–busywork, aka, the type of labor others dump on you when you look like you’re not working hard enough. There are ways to work a little smarter. These tips aren’t a cure-all, but they might give you an extra hour of rest each night:

Know what is your job and what isn’t. You shouldn’t be doing people’s work for them, whether they be your colleagues or your students. Remember what Patron Saint Tim Gunn says–some people just want to fail.

Beware excessive time-management timesucks. I love, love, love time management solutions. The best ones stay out of your way, which means that once you set up a system, you can keep using it without revising it.

Remember your primary goals. Your primary goal, as a grad student or professor, is to get published. That’s it. You may need to do work beyond that in order to keep getting paid, but anything that cuts into your writing time is a problem.

Attempt to suppress your guilt. While you want to be a good team player, remember that everyone else needs to step up. Slackers are a problem in both the ivory tower and academia, but you are not their parent, and you shouldn’t cover for them. You’re only hurting yourself. If you don’t meet your primary goal and don’t get a job or a promotion, is the slacker going to let you sleep on her couch? I think not. Even if the slacker is cool with your crashing at her pad, do you really want to? That couch will be filthy.

Look at things from a Hamster perspective. I could write about this, but I’ll save time by pointing to the smarties at Lifehacker. They have a list of tips for how to avoid “fake work” in the Hamster World.

Image of a bee collecting honey from a lavender flower from off2riorob from Wikimedia Commons under a Creative Commons license.