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Firefighting effectively
11

Marasme · 19/08/2022 09:15

I came back from holidays full of good resolutions - in particular, keeping on top of the whack-a-mole game of dealing with the more administrative workload. It was easy, because of the summer and lesser email traffic.

It s ramping up again, and I am slipping already. I look at the budget reconciliation email request, and i snooze it. Same for the resit markings. I try hard to keep my head into my research commitments, but i am getting distracted by the mountain of admin to-dos accumulating.

How do you keep on top of it all?
How do you manage to erase the feelings that come with seeing / dealing with these jobs, and just crack on with clearing them off your docket, without compromising on research time and headspace?

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bigkidsdidit · 19/08/2022 11:20

I schedule an admin power hour every day, usually after lunch when I’m tired. Put music on my headphones and admin only for an hour. Then stop it and get on with other work. It’s amazing how much you can get done in an hour of concentrating

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Igmum · 19/08/2022 12:42

God knows. I've been on holiday and ill so mine has piled up in a frightening way. Never get ill guys.

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aridapricot · 19/08/2022 17:34

Having an "admin power hour" sounds like a good idea. Personally, I end up dealing with most things as they come. Even if I'm nominally doing research, I often think, well, I've got distracted already by reading this e-mail, so why don't I invest another 30 seconds in replying to it. I used to have a few roles that I'd been doing for ages so by the end I knew everything from memory. Now I'm head of department but the knowledge I acquired from these roles still comes in incredibly handy. I even have a few templates to answer certain questions that come in again and again.

But I think your question about feelings is a very good one. Personally, sometimes I find myself enjoying busy times with an e-mail coming in every few minutes - it's the adrenaline and I think also, if you are on top of your roles, the feeling that you are being efficient and helping people and getting things done. Some people are nice enough to send you a thank you note for dealing with their problem so quickly. But that's not why we went into academia, I suppose, and there's also the feeling that the more efficient we get, the more the admin multiplies (paradoxically!). I have also discovered the hard way that being efficient on e-mail and knowing rules and regulations like the palm of your hand makes your academic colleagues think that you are a bureaucrat or a secretary at heart, as opposed to being professor material...

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Stichintimesavesstapling · 19/08/2022 17:37

My new years resolution is to book my outlook calendar out with research time and I like the idea of an admin power hour. Perhaps I'll use the hour before school pick up. Last year I found professional services booking pointless meetings all over my calendar and it needs to stop. I'm also going to stop accepting requests for small meetings that last an hour, by and large 20-30 mins is usually sufficient.

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bigkidsdidit · 20/08/2022 06:34

For my power hour I have a separate admin to do list pad. I just write stuff on that and highlight urgent ones, as they come in. In the power hour I tick off as many as I can. It does help and writing it all down separately frees my brain to get back to thinking about research

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purplepandas · 28/08/2022 21:02

I like a power hour. Just come back to find out already stretched team is minus another staff member for months. I could cry, huge increase in my workload and stress right now to sort immediate issues but also teaching next year. This is a timely thought as right now any research seems impossible. Power hour sounds a good term and idea.

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Marasme · 29/08/2022 08:07

agree - what seemed hardcore last year is now even harder as we have lost 1 admin, with another one on long term sick.

our new recruits are also very good at not stepping up and claiming that "they don't know how" to do whatever tasks.

i need to move to

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purplepandas · 29/08/2022 09:46

Really sorry to hear that @marasme, that's exactly how I feel. It just all feels impossible now and I am so very done with it. Really stuck to the area due to kids and family but you never know!

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wordleaddict · 29/08/2022 11:04

I have been at it all August. Have not known a year as bad as this. Starting to think about early retirement. No fun anymore. Book project remains unfinished for another year.

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aridapricot · 29/08/2022 11:15

Starting today, I have decided to test the theory that the less you rush to reply to e-mails and the less efficient you are, the less the e-mails will multiply... I am also replying to student e-mails with the wording "The answer to your question can be found in the course handbook/department handbook/course site" (if applicable of course).

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CallmeMrsPricklepants · 29/08/2022 16:47

aridapricot · 29/08/2022 11:15

Starting today, I have decided to test the theory that the less you rush to reply to e-mails and the less efficient you are, the less the e-mails will multiply... I am also replying to student e-mails with the wording "The answer to your question can be found in the course handbook/department handbook/course site" (if applicable of course).

There is definitely something to be said for not looking at emails until 4pm so that responses tend to come in the next day. Otherwise I end up email tennis all day.

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