Home > Research, Writing > Balance


One thing I struggle with, two years post-PhD, is being able to sort out a proper balance in my work. Generally, the things I do as an academic fall under three categories: research, teaching and administration. Under each of these, I have various things I have to do (and probably more I’ve missed):


  • Journal articles
  • Conference presentations (and abstracts)
  • Books (edited and monograph)
  • Developing ideas
  • Reading up in the field
  • Reviewing articles/chapters
  • Teaching preparation
  • Marking
  • Actual teaching
  • Professional development
  • Meetings
  • Departmental responsibilities (1st year tutor)
  • Office hours
  • Emails
  • Phone calls

What normally happens is that I’m able to work on one general category like a demon, but I find it really difficult to be able to shift and swap out in one week or one day between the different things I have to do. So, during the summer, I was able to do a manic amount of writing (edited book proposal, rewrote and submitted an article, wrote up a research bid, did a book abstract, did a conference abstract), but did very little in terms of attending conferences or presenting at conferences (it’s been nearly 2 years since I’ve presented at a sociolinguistics conference, although not two years since I’ve presented at a conference…). This week, I’ve done loads of teaching preparation (in the process becoming very intimate with Moodle), but my research has suffered and I’ve done zero writing. This is likely to continue to be the case since teaching starts next week which will take me up to December, and I’ve got a few deadlines after Christmas I have to meet, so it’s going to be interesting to see if I actually get some writing done during the semester.

Part of the difficulty is that I only feel like I’m actually making progress when I’m able to properly get stuck in to a task. So when I’m only able to write for an hour, I don’t think I get a great deal of productive work done, and when I’m doing teaching preparation, I have to work on it for a couple of hours to feel like I’m making any progress with it. I worry about how effective and efficient it is that in order to make head way in my work, I have to throw myself completely into it.

Now, I’m not sure how far I’m supposed to be a super-star, all-singing, all-dancing, do-everything-and-never-sleep kind of chap, and I think that in general, I’m doing well to meet the various demands required of me as an academic, but sometimes I can’t help but think ‘should I be doing more?’. The fact that it often comes during those times where I have a number of conflicting demands pulling me in various directions which prevent me from getting my teeth stuck in to a task can’t be coincidental, so I suppose I have to try and find ways of dealing with this.

Oh, and right now I’m not able to type as freely as I’d like due to a sore right hand (and those with smutty minds will make of that what they will…). I think I bashed a nerve during my krav maga class a couple of weeks ago and my pinkie and ring finger on my right hand feel really stiff and sore, so typing is more difficult than normal. If anything, this has forced me to stop cracking my knuckles, but I hope that things return to normal sooner rather than later so this semester doesn’t become any more difficult.

The Social Linguist

Categories: Research, Writing Tags: ,
  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: