Academic working hours

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Recognising that I’m incredibly fortunate to be doing work that I (mostly) enjoy, I’m also seeking to find a better balance, ensuring I have time for friends, etc… The truism is true: nobody on their deathbed wishes they had spent more time at the office.

What was once vaguely containable in a 9-to-5 regime has expanded, so we must work evenings and weekends. We are trapped in a structurally embedded “long hours culture”, where hours in excess of the 48 stipulated in the European Union Working Time Directive have become normalised. Yet, while everybody grumbles and deplores, nobody seriously tries to do anything about it. A young female lecturer of my acquaintance who tried to keep her weekends free was told by her dean that she could not expect promotion if she took that attitude. And it is a sad truth that many academics are workaholics, literally addicted, as managers trying to remove some tasks from them have witnessed.

As Pete Phillips recently told us at #cnmac11, we need to take time out to think creatively:

These thoughts are echoed in this article:

We need to turn our backs on what feminist scholar Cynthia Cockburn has called “heroic masculinity”, admitting that as human beings we need time “to stand and stare”. We need to raise the value of part-time work and job-sharing and, as T.S. Eliot said, “redeem the time”.

Read full story, and let’s remind ourselves of what Henry Ford said:

“It’s that man down the corridor,” he explained.

“Every time I go by his office he’s just sitting there with his feet on his desk. He’s wasting your money.”

“That man,” replied Ford, “once had an idea that saved us millions of dollars. At the time, I believe his feet were planted right where they are now.”

2 thoughts on “Academic working hours

  1. Thank you for this, love the Henry Ford story. I’ve been thinking for a while that we need to get to the point of making Prayer and Creativity part of Job Description any contract we use as a church.

    To allow our teams to be creative and pray and not feel that they ‘should be getting on with real work’.

    We need time to breathe!

  2. Thanks for taking the time to comment Steve. I have also used the technology to ensure I get out and run tonight – about to blog about that. I’ve never been good at sitting still, but I’m trying to find ways to do it, and allow space to do that stuff that only the creative side of my brain can do!

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