Bugs Become Features!

It’s been around too months since I last updated – its seems longer to me. And in honesty it isn’t because there was nothing to say – but because there was no time to say it in, or more properly, no time to think it in.

As the £9,000 pa student fees start to bite, the resultant reduction in student numbers needs to be addressed, this means more teaching preparation, more student administration to make ourselves better (and faster) at fixing student issues, and more grants. In fact it’s the eleven grants all under simultaneous production that, perversely, means I’ve had no time to think. And it seems to me that this is the problem. The time we all have that others (including management) might think is spent unproductively – at least which looks unproductive externally, can in actual fact disguise a large amount of work going on internally. Long periods of time in the calendar marked with nothing, to me, doesn’t signify a researcher with nothing to do, but to the contrary a researcher doing what they should be doing – and doing well. I think it is easy for us all to focus more on the immediate and less on the important, and to think that the more meetings the more productive we are being – in actuality it is seldom this.

For me the moment came when working over Christmas – a time when I should have been allowing my brain to just tick over and await new ideas, read new unrelated articles, allow space for something emergent – but instead was engaged with none important, but immediate (because someone told me there was a need for it) administration. Something needed to happen…

The outcomes was that I decided to rank everything on it’s importance, and its time sensitivity (admin does still have to get done), to me not anyone else. The logic is that if it is really important to someone else and not me – well they will pester me about it. It seems to me there is a feeling in the non research parts of the University that research is something that can be done around the admin. In actuality I’ve turned it the other way, admin is done around the research. I’ve now an ‘immediate’ stack onto which jobs are placed – I have a set time in the week to do immediate stuff, Once the time limit is reached the stack is not touched until the next week. Leaving the rest of the time for research and teaching (I also have a teaching stack for non-important stuff too).

This means that the next time eleven grants need getting in together then the time may indeed be there. This admin bug is now a feature (making my whole time keeping better) and what’s more it’s the new title of this blog.

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