I’m like most people who work in a professional, creative job: for a long while I felt out of my depth with the idea that I just wasn’t good enough for the job in the first place, and once that was dealt with, I felt constantly overwhelmed by the scope of work that was expected of me. There seemed to be a secret I was missing out on.
I struggled through a number of years of trying to meet expectations (both other people’s, and my own) and progress my career as quickly as I could. But when I look back, I’m just not convinced that I enjoyed it all that much—I was just too wrapped up in coping with my stress levels—and that’s when I decided things could, and should, change.
I’m an academic in a UK University. That means I have to be supreme multi-tasker. At any one time I might have 8 or 10 research projects on the go, 4 or 5 pieces of writing at various stages of completion, requirements to devise a new departmental research strategy document or write a new vision statement for our research lab, 2 or 3 funding applications underway, a team of PhD students and research assistants to supervise, national and international conferences and committee meetings to attend, staff training and development sessions to plan and deliver, and all that whilst trying to teach and make my undergraduate supervises feel like I haven’t forgotten about them. And I’m supposed to be able to do all that whilst remaining passionate enough about my subject to be creative in my own work and enthusing the next generation of psychologists to leave university with a drive to be as equally productive and successful. Oh, and I’ve just set up a private coaching psychology business with my partner, Lee.
I certainly won’t claim to have the formula perfect and I’ve got a long way to go before I reach black belt productivity ninja status. I still often work up to 60 hours (or more) a week, and sometimes I’ll have to pass on a family or social function to get a piece of work finished. But I now do it because I choose to, not because I have to. I’ve developed ways of working that work for me: some are lessons and snippets of wisdom that I’ve gathered from other people, many are based on cutting-edge psychological science, and some were the result of mere trial and error. And I’m still learning; that’s the beauty of meta-work. I want to use this blog to share some of my experiences and ideas for productive and creative working practices. They may not work for everyone, but who knows, some of the things I say may work for you.
(Image provided courtesy of Morgan Burke: https://www.flickr.com/photos/59761838@N08/7328633848)