Like most academics I know, I tend to say yes to most offers to do extra work. Your schedule seems too full? No way! Of course you accept to give a lecture, write a chapter, hold a seminar, write a short text, give an interview…
Therefore at the beginning of the new year I doubt that I am alone in playing Tetris with my calender in a vain attempt to fit in all the things I promised and still find time to work with the mundane everyday task of research. Despite being aware of this I have already promised to do several things besides my actual work for example:
- Book chapter on digital resistance in Swedish
- Revise two research papers
- Review two research papers
- Write a commentary on the GPLv3
- Launch a new journal
- Teach in Lund & Göteborg
- Lecture in Stockholm
- Hold a seminar in Göteborg
And it’s still only January. I must be more protective of my time or I shall be totally unable to implement my major plan for being a productive academic. Why is it that most academics seem to be only too happy to say yes to all the extra work? In the past I had an idea that if I turned an extra task down I would never be asked again. This may be true but it is still not really a strong reason for saying Yes.
Part of me says Yes because I am flattered simply by the fact that I was asked. Another part of me says Yes because I want to show that I can do the job. The academic system that schooled me taught that many of the extra tasks we do (for which the only reward is a dubious honor or community recognition) are all part of the way in which an academic should behave. Part of the norms which make up the academic community. In a sense the extra work is not our reward but it actually defines who we are as academics. Or could it just be that I am a glutton for punishment?